5:02am Saturday 19th October 2013
FORMER Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate will be attempting to chop down his international teammates when he returns to action in Wales this evening, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 25-year-old will feature in Racing Metro's back row as the Parisians take on the Scarlets in the Heineken Cup (kick-off 6pm).
Lydiate was left out of the all-French encounter with Clermont Auvergne last Sunday but will have Rhys Priestland in his sights in Llanelli.
The Wales fly-half has overcome a foot injury to spearhead the Scarlets' bid to follow up their stunning round one win at Harlequins.
"Last week's win at Harlequins was massive for us," said Wales flanker Aaron Shingler.
"There was a good atmosphere after the game, but on the bus coming home it was quite quiet; we weren't over-celebrating or anything because we know if we lose this week, that win counts for nothing."
Cardiff Blues will have completed their second fixture by the time that the Scarlets take to the field.
They welcome champions Toulon to the capital (kick-off 1.35pm) and home fans fear a drubbing.
The Blues were thrashed 44-29 in Exeter while the big-spending French outfit drubbed RaboDirect Pro12 leaders Glasgow 51-28.
Toulon hand starts to England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, Australian centre Matt Giteau, Springboks powerhouse Bakkies Botha and New Zealand lock Ali Williams, among many other stellar names.
"I would far rather face opponents like that than a team you are expected to beat easily," said Blues flanker and Lions captain Sam Warburton.
"The pressure will be off and we can go out there and enjoy ourselves. It is important we restore pride and we owe it to ourselves to do far better."
The Ospreys are without Lions lock Ian Evans for their must-win clash at Northampton tomorrow (kick-off 12.45pm).
The Swansea-based region are already up against it in a tough group after losing to Leinster at the Liberty Stadium in round one.
Evans was dropped for that defeat and is now out of action because of an Achilles problem.
Scrum-half Tom Habberfield replaces Tito Tebaldi for the clash against the Saints, who name Wales wing George North in their starting line-up at Franklin's Gardens.
"We know it's going to be a tough task going to Northampton but it's something we are excited about doing," said Lions tighthead Adam Jones.
"They are a big physical pack and obviously they have some pretty big backs as well. It's going to be a physical contest."
Fixtures: today – Cardiff Blues v Toulon (1.35pm), Zebre v Connacht (1.35pm), Leinster v Castres (3.40pm), Montpellier v Ulster (3.40pm), Scarlets v Racing Metro 92 (6pm), Munster v Gloucester (6pm).
Tomorrow – Northampton v Ospreys (12.45pm), Perpignan v Edinburgh (12.45pm), Glasgow v Exeter (2pm), Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins (3pm).
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