With the Rugby World Cup just finishing it doesn’t feel like the big daddy of club competition is kicking off. Even if the Heineken Champions Cup feels a bit like the day after the Lord Mayor’s Show it will pick-up once the games start.
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Gloucester Rugby v Toulouse – Gloucester Rugby by 5
Initially when you look at this pool you think Toulouse are the big favourites. However their European heyday is long gone, the last time they won it was back in 2010. They were Top14 Champions last season but with lots of players at the Rugby World Cup they haven’t started this season so well.
Gloucester have had a decent start to the season even if it feels better than the results suggest. I’m backing that the Cheery and Whites will take advantage of the Rugby World Cup hangover that’s slowly coming to an end.
Bath v Ulster – Ulster by 3
Ulster are a side that have promised to go well but continually disappointed. Is this the season that they will follow through? They have started well in the Pro14 and Bath have not had the best of starts. Perhaps another where the a side takes advantage of having most of their side together for a pre-season?
Glasgow Warriors v Sale Sharks – Glasgow Warriors by 7
Glasgow are in a bit of flux, this is the last season for the coaching team and they lost their best player in the off season when Hogg left. However they should make a good start in this competition as Sale don’t travel well and are trying to bed in a bunch of new players.
Leinster v Benetton Treviso – Leinster by 20
This is going to be a TBP home win. Benetton did get here by right but have had a poor start to the season. They aren’t helped by the high number of players they provided to Italy but no one is going to go easy on them. Leinster are used to fighting on two fronts so missing players wasn’t such an issue for them.
La Rochelle v Exeter Chiefs – La Rochelle by 3
Both these sides would have looked at their pool thinking they are in with a really good shout. However with both of them starting the season poorly how much will domestic pressure take precedence? At home that shouldn’t be a problem for La Rochelle, the only question is when will Exeter click and start firing? When they do teams are in trouble but it hasn’t happened yet.
Ospreys v Munster – Munster by 20
This is going to be a big away win with the TBP wrapped up early. Munster have started the season well where as Ospreys are in trouble. All the uncertainty last season didn’t help with planning for this season. Add on to that a host of injuries and they are struggling.
Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins – Clermont Auvergne by 15
Clermont have had a middling start to the season by their standards. Quins on the other hand are looking over their shoulder at relegation. Domestic matters will be at the forefront of their minds. In that situation travelling to Stade Marcel Michelin is not what you want. Comfortable home win with the TBP.
Northampton Saints v Lyon – Northampton Saints by 5
Not the game you would have picked out but this could be a cracker. First in the Top14 visiting early Premiership pacesetters. Two of the form teams at the moment in Europe so make sure you don’t miss it. I’m going with home advantage being the deciding factor here.
Connacht Rugby v Montpellier – Montpellier by 3
I found this one really hard to pick. My initial reaction was a comfortable away win for Montpellier. However they haven’t been that great this season and Connacht havd had a good start. Sure their fourth in their conference but that’s with four wins and only 2 losses. I might be underestimating the Irish side here but I just can’t go against the power of Montpellier.
Racing 92 v Saracens – Saracens by 7
Pool of death! With Munster (probably) getting the easy 5 points against Ospreys both these sides know this is already a key game. It would have been one that people would have circled as a must watch, However Racing have struggled to get going this season. Also with all the stuff going around Saracens right now you know they are going to circle the wagons. There’ll be a real us v the world mentality and I think that will carry them through.
I had a shocking Champions Cup last season! Only 2,976th out of 8,753 or top 34% in the SuperBru Predictition competition. I’m really looking to do better this season.
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