ERCC: Exeter v Montpellier Preview

The Exeter Chiefs welcome French juggernauts Montpellier to Sandy Park this Saturday for a crucial Champions Cup fixture.

Rugby fans are in for a feast of oval ball action this coming weekend with both the European Rugby Champions and Challenge Cups entering their penultimate round. There are a host of eye-catching fixtures across the tournament but you will be hard tasked to argue that the biggest game of the lot is not the one between the reigning Aviva Premiership Champions and a reborn Montpellier outfit.

Exeter Chiefs v Montpellier Herault | Saturday 13 January | Sandy Park | 17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Exeter 4/10 | Draw 20/1 | Montpellier 21/10

Exeter Chiefs
The defending Aviva Premiership Champions could well see their Champions Cup qualification dreams go up in smoke this weekend. They currently trail Montpellier by four points and sit a further five points behind Leinster in Pool 3. They need to at least secure two bonus points here to remain in contention for a quarter-final berth heading into next weekend's final pool round. A win would be much more positive, however. as Exeter still have to contend with a final round away date with Glasgow.

The Chiefs managed to defeat Montpellier earlier in the season as they ran out 24-27 out in France. So they may just have the psychological edge in this one. Having said that, the men from Devonshire do come into this one off the back of an Aviva Premiership 28-20 defeat to the Newcastle Falcons. It will certainly be interesting to see how the English side responds to last week's domestic defeat.

Montpellier Herault
It hasn't been smooth sailing for Montpellier in the Champions Cup this far as the French outfit have only managed to record a 50 percent win ratio. They have made a habit of picking up bonus points, however, having claimed three try-scoring bonus points and one losing bonus points.

This penchant for try scoring has certainly helped them attain a solid log position with the French club currently sitting on 13 points with two rounds remaining. As such, a victory this coming weekend would virtually guarantee them one of the pool phase best-placed runner-up berths.

The question, though, is "how likely are Montpellier to bag an away win against the reigning Aviva Premiership Champions?'. In all honesty, I personally think it's very unlikely. The French side are poor travellers while Exeter have turned Sandy Park into a fortress over the past 12 or so months.

Verdict: Exeter 4/10  
I think this may be a rather open game a la Exeter's late pool phase clash with La Rochelle last year. I can see the hosts coming out on top in what should be a rather end-to-end game.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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