We head into the final pool round of games meaning some teams are already trough and out whilst others are fighting to stay in. Some might be avoiding to stay in as well! With all that playing with selection here are my predictions.
How did your round 5 predictions go?
7 from 10, an ok performance but could have liked at least one more.
Sale Sharks v Newport Gwent Dragons
These two teams are fighting for the top spot in the pool. Sharks their only game in Wales and Dragons theirs in France. Sale have been fielding a weaker side in this competition but will they strengthen it for the last game to get in the knockout stages? Who knows until the team sheets come out but I’m going to back the home team for a close win.
Sale Sharks by 5
Castres v Section Paloise
This game is between two sides that are out of this competition. It’s a fairly simple choice as French sides perform better at home than away. Add to that Pau have picked up no points so far in this competition and we should be seeing a comfortable home victory.
Castres by 15
La Rochelle v Worcester Warriors
Another dead rubber and another guess as to what sides will be selected. With that in mind and both sides more interested in domestic matters. I’m going with the home side again in this one but as I’m expecting both sides to pick reserve players it could be very disjointed.
La Rochelle by 7
Cardiff Blues v Calvisano
Another simple one as the Italian side also have no points in this competition and have been losing by large margins. Cardiff have a slim chance to go through but they will be looking to rack up as many points as possible, to give them every chance of making the quarter finals.
Cardiff Blues by 45
Montpellier v Harlequins
Quins are cruising into the first seed place with maximum points from every game so far. Will they rest all their players as they have now got the home quarter final? Will they try to make history by getting a TBP win in every pool game? (Don’t know if anyone has done it before but must be rare) This is their hardest game of the pool stage but they are on such a run of form that I’m backing them to get the 6th win. Montpellier are in the fight for a best 2nd place so will put up a fight so I am risking that Quins will play a strong side.
Harlequins by 7
Connacht Rugby v Enisei-STM
Enisei have had a wonderful tournament getting two home wins against moocher fancied opposition. Those were at home though and Connacht are fighting for qualification. With all their injuries this might be seen as something of a distraction from domestic matters but even so they should have too much for the Russians at home.
Connacht Rugby by 20
Newcastle Falcons v Brive
I think Falcons have a mathematical if extremely thin chance of getting out of the group as a best second place. I think this will come down to if Brive are interested in this tournament or if they are going to save themselves for Top14 action. Perhaps I’m being a bit lazy and going for the old French travelling cliche.
Newcastle Falcons by 7
Zebre v Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester are another side that has cruised to the top of their group and secured a home quarter final. Zebre are an outside chance of a best 2nd place. So If Gloucester rest too many players this one could go the way of a home win. I think that Gloucester will have enough the tank for a narrow away victory to maintain their perfect record.
Gloucester Rugby by 3
Agen v London Irish
Agen have only picked up 2 bonus points so far in this competition. Irish have been inconsistent with a couple of big home wins but also a bunch of losses. They have not won on the road so far in this competition and with both teams out of the reckoning we could be seeing two reserve teams. Logic says go with the home win but I’m backing Irish who’re starting to click with their new coaching staff.
London Irish by 10
Grenoble v Edinburgh
The final game will decide who wins pool 5. Both sids have picked up one loss so far with Grenoble’s being the opening game in Edinburgh. Edinburgh in contrast lost away to Irish. I think that as this is in Grenoble and they have been improving that with home advantage they will take the game and the group.
Grenoble by 10