The remaining 16 EPCR Challenge Cup teams will be looking for strong performances this weekend as the final round of domestic games take place before the knockout stage begins.

The Round of 16 kicks off next Friday, just over two months since the conclusion of an enthralling pool stage campaign, and it’s set to provide eight thrilling contests.

Bristol Bears, who host ASM Clermont Auvergne in a blockbuster match-up with ASM Clermont Auvergne on the evening of March 31, have a tricky test away at Leicester Tigers in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday.

The 2020 Challenge Cup winners have made two changes for the trip to Mattioli Woods Welford Road as lock Joe Joyce and wing Ioan Lloyd return to the side.

Scarlets are the other hosts in the opening EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 games next Friday, welcoming CA Brive to the Parc y Scarlets.

The Llanelli-based side gear up for that encounter with a home clash with South African heavyweights Cell C Sharks in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Saturday.

Centre Johnny Williams starts for the first time since last October in a boost for Scarlets, with starting wing Ryan Conbeer and replacement flanker Aaron Shingler also returning from injury.

Meanwhile, two EPCR Challenge Cup contenders face off in Treviso as Emirates Lions visit Benetton Rugby. The South African visitors have a monumental Round of 16 meeting with Racing 92 in Johannesburg next Saturday while Benetton host Connacht Rugby in a fascinating duel on the same day.

Connacht’s warm-up for that trip to Italy is a home URC tussle with Edinburgh Rugby – prop Peter Dooley, lock Oisín Dowling, No.8 Jarrad Butler, wing Diarmuid Kilgallen and full-back Oran McNulty all come in for the Irish province.

Dragons RFC and Glasgow Warriors are two further EPCR Challenge Cup outfits in URC action this Saturday, travelling to Ospreys and Munster Rugby respectively.

No.8 Ollie Griffiths returns to the Dragons XV as they make eight changes, while nine Scotland internationals are back in the Glasgow squad.

The EPCR Challenge Cup’s TOP 14 contingent also features this weekend – Saturday sees a re-run of last season’s final as Lyon entertain RC Toulon, while Clermont host Brive, and on Sunday, Stade Français Paris welcome Racing.