We had an early return to European action last weekend to catch up on the postponed games. This week it’s back to the original full program of games. Here are my European Rugby Champions Cup predictions.
Ospreys v Clermont Auvergne
This is a game in the tightest of the pools. Clermont are 2 points ahead of Ospreys who are another couple ahead of Exeter. Clermont have the experience and expensive squad. Ospreys have been looking better after getting all their players back from the Rugby World Cup and getting some training time in. However I think Clermont will jus have too much power.
Clermont Auvergne by 7
Munster v Stade Francais
Munster have been woeful this season in Europe. Last weekend they couldn’t even beat Stade who were reduced to 14 men for much of the game due to a red card. Stade might be struggling in the Top14 but they are going well in Europe after their loss to Tigers in the opening round. So even with the travelling issues French sides have I’m expecting a rare win in Ireland.
Stade Francais by 5
Bordeaux Begles v Exeter Chiefs
Bordeaux have no chance of making it out of the pool and are chasing a playoff spot in the Top14. This is an ideal time for them to rest players but french sides really don’t like losing in front of their fans so it will be a tough battle.Chiefs are going well in the Premiership but know that a win here is a must if they are to come out the group. Exeter are struggling with injuries but I think the increased importance for them will motivate them to an away win.
Exeter Chiefs by 7
Saracens v Ulster
Saracens lost their first game of the season last weekend to Quins and I fully expect to see a reaction from that. Ulster edged a win after a very poor first half of rugby. I’m expecting a similar reaction from Ulster too and for them to come out of the blocks fast. Saracens though have been the form team in Europe and I expect them to win at home.
Saracens by 10
US Oyonnax v Toulouse
With both of these teams out of Europe it’s really any bodies guess how they are going to approach it. Oyonnax had a point to prove and they did it for half the game until Ulster tightened things up. I’m going for the away win purely as Toulouse are at the top of the Top14 table and Oyonnax are at the bottom. I could just as easily used the rule that teams at home win in France. As both teams are out, this one really is a guess.
Toulouse by 5
Leinster v Bath
Leinster are out of Europe and have a postponed Pro12 game that they are going to have to fit in. Sitting second in the Pro12 but with that game in hand, clear that is their priority now and I expect them to rest players. Bath need to back up that performance against Toulon for they confidence and also are in with a slim chance of making it out of the group. I should be going for a Bath win, but they haven’t been consistent enough this season for me to think they can back up that performance, so I’m going for the home win.
Leinster by 5
Leicester Tigers v Benetton Treviso
Tigers have won all their games and Treviso have lost all theirs. Simply a TBP win for Tigers.
Leicester Tigers by 20
Racing Metro 92 v Scarlets
Scarlets are top of the Pro12 but have have lost all their games in Europe. Also they are suffering from a few injuries and so will be looking to rotate players where they can. Racing top the Top14 and are unbeaten in Europe so this has comfortable home win written all over, it probably with a TBP but not certain.
Racing Metro 92 by 15
Toulon v Wasps
Toulon won a tight one against Bath last weekend and are still far from the all concurring side that they have been over the last couple of seasons in Europe. They will be looking for revenge of that surprise loss to Wasps early in the competition. Wasps have been inconsistent with big victories like that but also losses that sees them down the Premiership table. I just can’t see Wasps beating Toulon in their own back yard.
Toulon by 5
Northampton Saints v Glasgow Warriors
This is the shootout for second in the group behind Racing. Saints have the advantage as they face Scarlets next and Glasgow face Racing who overpowered them last weekend. Saints still are far from their best but showed that the fighting spirit is still there last weekend. I fully expect them to negate Warriors exciting backs by keeping it tight and looking to bully the Glasgow into submission.
Northampton Saints by 5
6 Nations Prediction League
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