European Professional Club Rugby | Bristol hand MacGinty first start

Fly-half AJ MacGinty, who has tallied 105 points in EPCR competitions, is set to make his first competitive start for Bristol Bears when they host London Irish in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday.

The USA international joined Bristol side from Sale Sharks in the summer, and will be looking to cement his place in the side ahead of their EPCR Challenge Cup campaign, which gets underway at USAP in December.

MacGinty is one of two changes to the Bristol starting team that beat Wasps 23-8 last weekend, with prop Ellis Genge returning, and Ed Holmes coming in at lock as Chris Vui shifts to blindside flanker.

There is also an all-EPCR Challenge Cup clash in the Premiership on Saturday, as Pool B side Worcester Warriors welcome Pool A counterparts Newcastle Falcons.

Wing Duhan van der Merwe, who has scored eight tries in 11 Challenge Cup games, makes his first appearance of the season for Worcester, while Callum Chick returns from injury to start at No. 8 for Newcastle.

Meanwhile, in the United Rugby Championship (URC), Challenge Cup sides Scarlets, Sigma Lions and Connacht Rugby all clash with Heineken Champions Cup outfits, in Ulster Rugby, Ospreys and Stormers respectively.

Flanker Josh Macleod returns for hosts Scarlets, with prop Sam O’Connor and back-row forward Luca Giannini poised to make their URC debuts from the bench.

Gianni Lombard comes in at fly-half for Sigma Lions at Stadium, while Connacht head to South Africa having made nine changes to the XV which started their 36-10 defeat at Ulster last weekend. The likes of Finlay Bealham, Cian Prendergast, Jarrad Butler and Mack Hansen all return for the Irish province.

Elsewhere, Saturday’s TOP 14 action sees further EPCR Challenge Cup teams take on Heineken Champions Cup clubs.

Stade Français Paris travel to last season’s Challenge Cup winners Lyon, Aviron Bayonnais welcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles, CA Brive travel to Castres Olympique and Section Paloise visit Montpellier Hérault Rugby.

A sole all-EPCR Challenge Cup contest sees USAP meet last season’s runners-up RC Toulon at Stade Aimé Giral.

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