As we enter the final round of pool games plenty of teams have something to play for but the predicting crystal ball is clouded by those that don’t. Here are my round 6 Champions Cup predictions.
First here is a link to my review of round 5.
How did your round 5 predictions go?
6 from 10, a poor week but you can’t get it right every time.
Ulster v US Oyonnax
Ulster are one of those teams still in the hunt for a best 2nd place finish with their only losses against Saracens. Oyonnax on the other hand are having a torrid season in both the Top14 and Europe. They did manage to restore their pride last week with a home win over Toulouse. With that win in the bag and a trip overseas I’m expecting Oyonnax to rest players for the domestic push to avoid relegation. Ulster should get the win to push for qualification.
Ulster by 10
Toulouse v Saracens
Toulouse are one of the pace setters in the Top14 but have really struggled in Europe with only a home win over Oyonnax. Europe has been such a big part of Toulouse’s history that they will be looking to finish with a win. Saracens will be looking for a top 2 seeding so that if/when they make the semi finals the game will be in London. Saracens are one of those teams that will be planning and looking to win the whole thing. Due to that there will be the normal rotation but not whole sales resting. So with that said I’m expecting an away win.
Saracens by 10
Bath v Toulon
Bath started well in Europe after having their first game postponed. Since then they have stumbled even if they have put up fighting performances. Domestically has also been a relative failure and with no chance of qualifying it’ll be interesting how they approach this. Will Bath go for the moral boosting win or tell their players to go away an rest to have a fresh start for the Premiership? Toulon are stumbling along but getting enough results to stay in contention both in Europe and the Top14. Toulon’s experience will carry the day but don’t expect a feast for flowing rugby.
Toulon by 10
Wasps v Leinster
Wasps are chasing Toulon for the top of the group and will be hoping that Bath can do them a favour. Earlier in the season this would be an easy one to call but Wasps have been up and down domestically and Leinster are finding some form. I’m backing Wasps for the win but it’s not entirely comfortable as we don’t know which Wasps will turn up. Also Leinster are second in the Pro12 with a game in hand so they have some good form coming into this game. Also they won last weekend with a very young side against Bath so are they best to start their “second” string side than their experienced players? More questions than answers I’m afraid so this isn’t a confident pick.
Wasps by 10
Glasgow Warriors v Racing Metro 92
Glasgow are suffering from second season syndrome or a Rugby World Cup hangover or something. They have the pieces and style to challenge but just aren’t doing it this season. They did provide a lot of players to the Scotland squad at the Rugby World Cup which means that they have not had a proper rest in a year and a half. That more than anything is probably the cause. Racing have qualified and will be hunting one of there top 2 seeded placings. Like Toulon they are challenging both domestically and here but unlike Toulon they are doing it in style. On reflection maybe I predicted on reputation than form and should have gone for a bigger margin. It looks like the big spending has finally clicked after years of expensive imports not settling in. In summary away win.
Racing Metro 92 by 5
Scarlets v Northampton Saints
Scarlets are top of the Pro12 and have been going well but in Europe they have had a nightmare with five losses. Saints have, relatively, struggled domestically but they are still in touch and are fighting for a best 2nd place spot. The weakness that Scarlets have is that they lack power against top end opposition. Against Saints that’s going to be fatal and Saints should get the away win to push for a best 2nd place.
Northampton Saints by 10
Benetton Treviso v Munster
This one is so simple, Treviso are the only team that have no points in this competition and they will lose. The only question is by how much? Their losses have been by 25-40 points and so I’m going for the upper end of that.
Munster by 35
Stade Francais v Leicester Tigers
Stade are the Top14 champions but are struggling this year domestically but have stumbled along in Europe to be still on contention as a 2nd best. Tigers have surprised us all with their undefeated run and are the third team fighting for that top 2 seeding. As you can see public opinion is very clear that Tigers will claim an away win. This should be a great battle as both sides have something to fight for but, as long as Tigers don’t rest players, I think they should win it.
Leicester Tigers by 5
Exeter Chiefs v Ospreys
Chiefs picked a weakened side to travel to France last week and came home with a loss effectively putting them out of Europe. Clearly making the Premiership playoffs is the priority for the club and players need to be rested/rotated at some point. Ospreys lead the pool and an away win will be enough to stay there and qualify for the quarter finals. At home I think Chiefs will be a different prospect and take the win. However I’m an Exeter fan and studies have been done to show that fans are statistically worse at predicting their own team’s results. So I am worried that I have gone with my heart rather than head with this one.
Exeter Chiefs by 3
Clermont Auvergne v Bordeaux Begles
For a while it looked like Clermont might not make it into the quarter finals but they have pulled through to have a chance. It all relies on them winning this game though. Bordeaux are a dangerous side and put 50 points into Clermont last season. That was at home though and Clermont will know the importance of this game. I think that Clermont’s experience of making finals will tell and they will win at home to either top the group or be in with a shout of a best 2nd place.
Clermont Auvergne by 15