The Lottery Cup had a good start last weekend. No the European Rugby Challenge Cup hasn’t got a new sponsor, that’s just how I think of it from a picking point of view. Essentially if you got a TBP win in round 1 then you are in a quarter final position at the moment and it’s yours to lose.
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Enisei-STM v Dragons – Dragons by 30
Dragons got a much needed moral boosting win before getting on the road for a long trip to Russia. As we saw last round the mystique and issues teams have travelling to the cold north have very much lessened. I think it’s going tobe a long old tournament for Enisei and Dragons should pick up a big win.
Pau v Calvisano – Pau by 20
Calvisano is the other side from outside the main leagues meaning Pool 5 should provide a wildcard entry to the quarter finals. I don’t think that Pau want that spot really, however they should still get a comfortable TBP win at home to satisfy the fans.
Brive v Bristol – Bristol by 3
This was one of the harder games to call this week. Bristol might sit top of the Premiership and Brieve near the bottom of the Top14 but Brive really pull a result out of the hat last weekend. We don’t normally rate French teams away and especially in this competition but they got an away win last weekend. This weekend though they are up against one of the favourites to win this competition (well in my view anyway). I’m backing Bristol to go deep into the competition and that’s driven this nervous pick.
Edinburgh v Bordeaux Begles – Edinburgh by 10
Both these teams started well but you do expect the French teams to perform at home and not so much away. Add into that Edinburgh’s love of playing at home and it has to be a comfortable win for them.
Toulon v Scarlets – Toulon by 5
Toulon surprised me with their away wini last weekend. I really had Scarlets down as topping this pool rather easily but it looks like they have a challenge on their hands. Scarlets have a couple of good results against Toulon recently but I think this is going to be a tough trip to the south of France.
Castres v Worcester Warriors – Castres by 3
I think travel is going to be Worcesters issue here. They got a good win in Russia but the trip there and back will have disrupted their recovery. Castres did the normal French thing of losing away but at home will be much stronger.
Zebre Rugby Club v Stade Francais – Zebre Rugby Club by 3
Another difficult one to pick. Who will lose this game the least rather than who will win it. Stade have parted with their head coach so maybe there’ll be a dead cat bounce of a performance this weekend. But I think the malaise is deeper than that I’m backing Zebre to pick up a rare win.
Wasps v Agen – Wasps by 7
Both Wasps and Agen are second from bottom of their leagues and will be more worried about relegation than Europe. That was shown with both of them losing last weekend. As neither side cares about this competition you can only go with home advantage.
London Irish v Bayonne – London Irish by 5
Another two sides that got off to a losing start in this competition and another two sides who’ll see this as a distraction. Don’t expect string selections and again a home win that the neutral fan will skip watching.
Cardiff Blues v Leicester Tigers – Leicester Tigers by 5
Both these sdies made good starts to the competition that might bring some relief after their domestic form. The difference is though that Cardiff beat Italian amateurs whereas Leicester beat a Top14 side. Cardiff need to do more before I’ll have any faith in them.
7 from 10, not a great start to the competition but also not a disaster for the lottery cup.
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