Challenge Cup: Round 1 Preview

European Rugby Challenge Cup: Outright Preview

Round 1 of the 2018/19 European Rugby Challenge Cup will get underway on Thursday the 11th of October.

This season's European Rugby Challenge Cup has a extra bit of glamour to it with big names such as Clermont Auvergne featuring in the second tier of Europe's elite club rugby tournament.

While the headline clash will no doubt be the aforementioned Clermont's date with Northampton, there are nine other fixtures for rugby fans to sink their teeth into this week.
Perpignan v Sale SharksThursday 11 October
Stade Aime Giral

To Win (80 Mins)
Perpignan 5/1
Draw 28/1

Sale 1/8

The first game of the round sees minnows Perpignan take on a struggling Sale Sharks outfit at the Stade Aimee Giral. The hosts currently occupy last spot in the Top 14 and are yet to win a domestic game this season. They also head into this one off the back of a 12-9 defeat to Stade.

Like Perpignan, the Sale Sharks have also endured a poor start to their domestic season and only have two wins from their opening six fixtures in the English Premiership. They do head into this one off the back of a 20-7 derby victory over Newcastle, which should fill them with some confidence.

Verdict: Sale 1/8
With Faf de Klerk back, Sale should have no troubles getting one over a Perpignan side that has been woeful in the Top 14.

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Yenisei-STM v La RochelleFriday 12 October
Central Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Yenisei-STM 6/5
Draw 61/5
La Rochelle 10/11

La Rochelle will do well not to underestimate an Ensei side that beat Stade Francais last year when they travel to Russia this weekend. The hosts may have not advanced to the knockout phase of the tournament last season but they did manage to bag some eye-catching wins. And they will once again be a force to reckon with on home soil.

La Rochelle haven't enjoyed the best of starts to their domestic campaign this term but they did bag a victory of Top 14 pacesetters Clermont last week. That win will have instilled a lot of confidence in the squad.

Verdict: La Rochelle 10/11
Ensei should put up a good fight here but I can see La Rochelle taking the win by 15 points or more. 
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Timisoara Saracens v Newport Gwent DragonsSaturday 12 October
Dan Palintinasuna Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Timisoara 21/20
Draw 56/5
Dragons 21/20


Romania's Timisoara Saracens will be looking to cause a major upset when they play host to the Welsh opposition in the form of the Newport Gwent Dragons. The hosts endured a tough time of it last year losing all six of their fixtures while shipping over 230 points.

The Dragons haven't enjoyed the brightest of starts to their PRO14 campaign winning only two of their opening six fixtures. They also head into this one off the back of an eight-point derby defeat to the Cardiff Blues.

Verdict: Dragons  21/20
Despite their woes in the PRO14, the Dragons should have no problems seeing off the Romanian side. My money is on them taking this one by 25 points or more.
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Benneton Treviso v Grenoble
Saturday 13 October
Stadio Comunale di Monigo

To Win (80 Mins)
Treviso  21/20
Draw  56/5
Grenoble 21/20

Next up we have an Italian French affair with an impressive Treviso side taking on Top 14 outfit, Grenoble. The hosts have been punching above their weight in the PRO14 this term and have won three of their opening six games. They also head into this one off the back of a 28-5 win over the Southern Kings.

Grenoble haven't had as fast a start to their Top 14 campaign as they have only registered two wins from their opening seven fixtures. They do come into this one off the back of a highly impressive 28-25 win over Bordeaux, however.

Verdict: Treviso 21/20
French sides tend to struggle on the road and I can see Treviso taking full advantage of this. my money is on the hosts taking this one by 10 points or more.
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Ospreys v Pau
Saturday 13 October
Liberty Stadium


To Win (80 Mins)
Ospreys 
21/20 
Draw 56/5
Pau 
21/20

A red-hot Ospreys outfit will be looking to make a statement when they take on a hit-and-miss Pau side at the Liberty Stadium. The hosts have enjoyed a great start to their PRO14 campaign and currently sit second in Conference A with four wins from six starts.

Pau have been decent enough in the Top 14 this season winning four of their opening seven fixtures. They have struggled on the road, however, and head into this game off a narrow three-point victory over struggling Perpignan.

Verdict: Ospreys 21/20
The Welsh side should have no troubles overcoming a Pau outfit that likes the road as much as a rock star's wife does.
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Northampton Saints v Clermont Auvergne
Saturday 13 October
Franklin's Gardens


To Win (80 Mins)
Northampton
Draw
Clermont


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Verdict: Clermont
While French sides aren't the greatest of travellers I can still see Clermont taking the spoils here. My money is on the visitors winning it by six points or more.
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Harlequins v Agen
Saturday 13 October
Twickenham Stoop

To Win (80 Mins)
Harlequins 8/15

Draw 19/10
Agen 19/20

Harlequins will be looking to bag the full five-point haul when they take on French minnows Agen this Saturday. The hosts have endured a rather tough start to their English Premiership campaign only winning two of their opening six fixtures. They head into the opening round of the Challenge Cup off the back of an encouraging five-point defeat to the might Saracens, though.

Agen have also only registered two wins in the Top 14 thus far and head into Saturday's encounter off the back of a 10-0 defeat to Toulouse.

Verdict: Harlequins 8/15
They have actually been rather good with ball-in-hand this term and I can see them putting a big score over Agen this weekend. My money is on the hosts taking this one by 18 points or more.
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Bristol Bears v Zebre
Saturday 13 October
Ashton Gate

To Win (80 Mins)
Bristol 
Draw
Zebre

Bristol will be looking to start their Challenge Cup campaign as they did their English Premiership campaign by bagging a win. The hosts have struggled for results in recent weeks and come into this one off the back of a mammoth 52-7 defeat to the Worcester Warriors.

Zebre have also endured a bout of patchy form and head into Saturday's fixture off the back of a 36-8 defeat to the Glasgow Warriors.

Verdict: Bristol
The newly promoted English Premiership club have been solid at home this season and I can see them registering another win at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
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Connacht v Bordeaux Begles
Saturday 13 October
The Sportsground

To Win (80 Mins)
Connacht 21/20
Draw 56/5

Bordeaux 21/20

Irish Province Connacht will be looking to start their Challenge Cup campaign on a high when they take on the Bordeaux Begles. The two sides head into this one off the back of contrasting results with Bordeaux going down by three-points to Grenoble in the Top 14 and Connacht registering a famous seven-point win over local rivals Ulster.

Verdict: Connacht 21/20
The home side will be way too strong for Bordeaux at the Sportsground. The hosts should take this by eight points or more.
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Stade Francais v Worcester Warriors
Saturday 13 October
Stade Jean Bouin

To Win (80 Mins)
Stade 21/20
Draw 56/5
Worcester 21/20


The final fixture of the opening round pits an in-form Stade Francais side up against English minnows Worcester. The hosts head into this game off a rollicking start to their domestic campaign and currently occupy second spot on the Top 14 ladder.

Worcester haven't been as impressive but they do sit pretty in seventh on the English Premiership standings. They also head into this one off the back of a massive win over Bristol.

Verdict: Stade 21/20
They really are one of the form sides in Europea at the minute and I can't see them slipping up against Worcester. My money is on the hosts taking this one by 15 points or more.


Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets


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