With only one more round of games in the European Rugby Challenge Cup pool stages there are some intriguing matchups. Let’s be honest there are also a lot of dead rubbers by this stage too. A couple of weeks ago The Attacking Scrum and I had a chat about How To fix Europe (well rugby that is).
As you can see we know who’s going to top four of the pools already. Pool 1 however is an absolute humdinger but we’ll get onto that later.
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Toulon v Bayonne – Toulon by 10
Toulon have topped their pool already but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to play for. Bristol, Toulon, Bordeaux and Leicester will be fighting it out to get the best seeding they can for home advantage.
With Bayonne out of the competition and playing away from home, you know they will send a weakened side to Toulon. This has comfortable home win written all over it, the only question is will they pickup the TBP too?
Zebre Rugby Club v Bristol – Bristol by 5
Bristol have dominated this pool with five wins and four TBPs seeing them sit top of the seedings. Zebre are an improving side though and at home will want to put on a good show for their fans. Also remember being a Guinness Pro 14 side they don’t have to worry about relegation domestically.
I think that Bristol will get the win but it’s going to be a harder task than I think most of their fans expect.
Pau v Leicester Tigers – Pau by 3
This is one of the hardest games to call. Leicester have been poor in the Gallagher Premiership but are improving, however they are perfect in this competition. However Pau need the win here to make it into the quarterfinals and French sides don’t like losing at home.
I can see Pau getting the win here as Leicester know they aren’t going to get a great seeding so rest a few players for the Premiership the following week.
Brive v Stade Francais – Brive by 5
This is one of those dead rubbers where there is nothing on the line except pride. With two French sides going head to head you have to pick the home one.
London Irish v Scarlets – Scarlets by 7
Irish are out of the competition and Scarlets destiny is out of their hands. Well depending on the Pau result it might be back in their hands, we’ll have to wait and see. As far as this week’s preparation goes though they need the win and if at all possible the TBP too.
Cardiff Blues v Calvisano – Cardiff Blues by 25
This game shouldn’t decide anything as Cardiff haven’t picked up enough points so far. I think that there is an outside mathematical possibility of them qualifying but so many other results would have to go their way.
At the end of the day though they are playing a semi-pro side from Italy and so will get a very comfortable win at home.
Worcester Warriors v Castres – Worcester Warriors by 3
This is the game of the weekend. Not only do Worcester have to win but they will know they have to win with a TBP to ensure topping the table. AS you’ll see from my next prediction Dragons are a real threat.
Castre on the other hand know that if they don’t win they will probably go from first to third and miss out on the quarter finals. With Castre in the Top 14 relegation battle and playing away from home….Worcester should edge this one.
Dragons v Enisei-STM – Dragons by 30
Dragons will pick up the TBP win with ease in this game. Enisei lost by 27 points in Russia to Dragons. 30 points might be generous, either way Dragons should put themselves in a position to go through to the Quarter Finals.
Edinburgh v Agen – Edinburgh by 20
Agen have lost all their games with no losing points and the worst points difference in the competition. Yup this is a bonus points win all the way for Edinburgh which will see them qualify as the best second placed team.
Wasps v Bordeaux Begles – Wasps by 3
I think that Bordeaux will know that they are unlikely to get a top two seeding. With that in mind I think they might rest a couple of players in this one as they are already qualified.
Wasps are obviously out of the competition so I don’t know what kind of side they will put out. The thing is they need some form and confidence for the Premiership. So I think they might take this one relatively seriously and that’s why I’m backing them narrowly.
41 from 50 or 82% correct so far, I’m happy with that.
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