The European competitions are back for the double-header rounds where teams will play the same opposition home and away. Here are my Challenge Cup round 3 predictions.
First here is a link to my round-up of all the global action from last weekend.
How did your round 2 predictions go?
8 from 10, not bad in a competition where you don’t know how seriously different team swill take it.
Here’s my 60 second predictions, for the reasoning behind it read below.
Gloucester Rugby v La Rochelle
Both these teams are going great in this competition with 2 bonus point wins so far. You’d have to expect that these next 2 double-header games will decide who tops the group. If we look at domestic form, Gloucester are very up and down whilst La Rochelle are flying high in the Top 14. That might mean La Rochelle priorities that over this but who knows? I’m going to back the home side as they have done well in this competition over the last couple of years.
Gloucester Rugby by 7
Grenoble v Ospreys
Grenoble are having a horrible season, down at the bottom of the Top 14 and losing their opening 2 rounds in this competition. I fully expect them to rest all their leading players and so should hand Ospreys a great opportunity of an away win in France. Also Ospreys are having a really good season in the Pro12 so should be full of confidence.
Ospreys by 3
Lyon v Newcastle Falcons
Both these sides beat Grenoble and lost to Ospreys in the opening 2 rounds. They will know that they are fighting for second place and hoping to be a best placed second to make the quarter finals. I’m going with the home side to prevail as (cliché coming) it’s always difficult to travel to France and win.
Lyon by 5
Bayonne v Benetton Treviso
Both these sides lost their opening 2 rounds and you’d think it’s just a matter of having to play the games rather than any hope of qualifying in this competition. With that in mind and knowing how poor Treviso have been this season it should be a home win to keep the fans happy.
Bayonne by 7
Cardiff Blues v Bath
This is my game of the round as Cardiff have looked better this season even if they have slipped back a little recently. Bath have having a cracking season flying high in the Aviva Premiership but do have injury worries at the moment. Also with these being so close to each other but rarely facing each other it should mean decent travelling support too. I think that Bath are really on a roll and if they don’t rest too many players should seek a close 1 here.
Bath by 3
Enisei-STM v Brive
Enisei have been a true revelation in this competition this year and last. Coming from Russia most of us knew nothing about them. But they pulled off 2 home victories in the opening 2 rounds and I think that they could do it again here. The problems are that they can’t play at home due to the weather though and it is outside their season. Conversely they really can target these games. Do Brive care about this competition? Know it’s another cliché but the Enisei underdog story is just too good.
Enisei-STM by 3
Worcester Warriors v Newport Gwent Dragons
Both of these teams are struggling this year. Warriors started OK but have really missed key players. Dragons are picking up occasional wins at home but poor on the road. So this is a simple home advantage pick.
Worcester Warriors by 7
Timișoara Saracens v Harlequins
Saracens are really out of their depth in this competition but we do need to keep exposing the next level down. Quins will enjoy their trip to Spain where they will hopefully get some nice weather.
Edit: Spain? What was I thinking? Romania is Timișoara Saracens home! Doesn’t change the prediction but does mean the weather won’t be as warm.
Harlequins by 25
Edinburgh v Stade Francais
I’m going to lean on the old cliché of travelling French sides. To be fair Stade did lose their away game in the opening 2 rounds so it’s not such a bad use. They are also not going great this season and have really regressed from winning the Top 14 a couple of seasons ago. Edinburgh aren’t going great either for example they lost at home to Zebre but they should win here.
Edinburgh by 5
Bristol v Pau
Another 2 teams that are struggling at the wrong end of the table. Pau are out of the relegation zone at the moment but that will be their only concern this season. Bristol have been showing some better form with the coaching shake up and this should be a good moral booster.
Bristol by 5
Join the #RugbyChat on twitter for an hour of discussion reviewing the action on Tuesday. If you can’t make the hour then you can still give your view as the conversation keeps going over the following day.
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