Now that the internationals are out of the way the European Champions Cup takes the headlines. Over the next 2 weekends the teams will play each other home and away and here’s how I see the first round of those games going.
First here is a link to my round-up of all the global action from last weekend.
How did your round 2 predictions go?
7 from 10, I wasn’t helped by there being a draw in there.
Here’s my 60 second predictions, for the reasoning behind it read below.
Northampton Saints v Leinster
Saints lost again at the weekend but what might be more of an impact is the off field issues and scrutiny that they are coming under. George North again suffered a concussion that was evident on the screens at home but not picked up by the medical team. This meant he returned to the pitch to play when he shouldn’t have been allowed and he’s now going to see an independent specialist. Even without these distractions Saints haven’t been performing and a visit from Leinster who are second in the Pro12 due to points difference will be a challenge too far.
Leinster by 7
Ulster v Clermont Auvergne
Clermont missed out on the quarter finals last season by the narrowest of margins. With 2 TBP wins in the bag already it’s clear that they aren’t going to let that happen again. Clermont did lose last weekend in the Top 14 but that’s probably because they were targeting this weekend. Ulster have been going OK this season but always seem to come up short in this competition and I can’t see them winning here.
Clermont Auvergne by 10
Munster v Leicester Tigers
It’s been a hell of a couple of months for Munster but they have been playing great. They top the Pro12 table as well as topping their Champions Cup pool with a game in hand. Tigers are also having a good season but I think a trip over to Ireland will prove too much this weekend.
Munster by 7
Racing Metro 92 v Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow started the season so brightly but have lapsed recently. The international windows always impact them more than most and they need to get back up to speed asap. Being Townsend’s last season with the club they are looking to go well in this competition and they have the tools if they all turn up. This weekend though they have to travel to 1 of the European big spenders who have much better depth. Racing for all that depth though have been inconsistent this season. How ever having not won a game yet in this competition this is the kind of big game you pay big money for players to turn up for. This should be a home win.
Racing Metro 92 by 7
Saracens v Sale Sharks
Saracens top the Aviva Premiership table and have picked up 2 wins to kick off this competition too. They did lose to a high-flying Bath last weekend but that was a rare blip in a good season. Sale in stark contrast have 2 losses here and are struggling to find their form of last season so this should be a comfortable home win.
Saracens by 15
Zebre v Toulouse
Put simply Zebre are out of their depth in this competition and whilst Toulouse haven’t had a great start they will be looking for a TBP win here.
Toulouse by 15
Wasps v Connacht Rugby
This is a really intriguing tie, Wasps have a win and a draw to their name so far and are going well in the Aviva Premiership. This has to be tempered a little as they have faltered a little recently. Connacht haven’t lived up to the heights of last season in the Pro12 and are in the bottom half of the table. Also Pat Lam has announced he’s going to Bristol next season so will that affect the players thoughts? It shouldn’t in this competition as their 2 wins so far means this is the best chance they are likely to get to make it to the quarter finals. Still I think at home Wasps should have too much class.
Wasps by 7
Montpellier v Castres
Both these sides won at home but lost away in the opening rounds of this competition. With Montpellier also going better in the Top 14 I think that this all French affair should be a home win.
Montpellier by 10
Toulon v Scarlets
By their standards Toulon have been shaky this year, losing at home in both the Top 14 and this competition as well as winning just over half their games. Scarlets on the other hand have turned around a poor start to the season to be on a 7 game winning streak in the Pro12. I still think that they will find this trip to France too difficult and expect the Toulon stars to win it.
Toulon by 10
Exeter Chiefs v Bordeaux Begles
Exeter have had a shocking start to the tournament with 2 losses, Bordeaux on the other hand managed a home win in the opening 2 rounds. Since then though Exeter have found their mojo and are much more like the team from last season. Whilst Bordeaux have slipped in the Top 14 that’s more down to a lack of bonus points than wins. Still I think Exeter’s refound form will see them collect their first victory of the campaign.
Exeter Chiefs by 7
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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