European Champions Cup Round 3 Preview

Rugby Players engage into a scrum

Shaun Goosen takes a look at how the Round 3 fixtures of the European Champions Cup will pan out this weekend.


Friday 7 December


Scarlets v Ulster
21h45
Parc y Scarlets

To Win (80 mins)
Scarlets 3/10
Draw 25/1
Ulster 24/10

Both Ulster and the Scarlets have been unremarkable so far this season. Sitting in second and third place respectively in Conference B in the Pro14, with the same amount of points to boot, there is little to separate the two ahead of their encounter this weekend. The Scarlets kicked off their Champions Cup campaign with losses to Racing 92 (13-14) and Leicester (45-27), while Ulster beat the latter 24-10 before succumbing to Racing 44-12.

While it’s already unlikely that Scarlets will qualify from here on out, Ulster will still have a fighting chance if they manage to claim a win in Llanelli on Friday. The two teams clashed a fortnight ago at the same venue, with the home side coming out with a 29-12 win. Expect more of the same this weekend.
Verdict: Scarlets 3/10
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Edinburgh v Newcastle Falcons
21h45
BT Murrayfield

To Win ( 80 mins)
Edinburgh 4/10
Draw 20/1
Newcastle Falcons 2/1

Edinburgh, fifth in Conference B of the Pro14, fell 21-15 at Montpellier before rallying to thump an out of sorts Toulon side 40-12 at Murrayfield in their two opening Champions Cup fixtures. Newcastle, meanwhile, are two from two after shocking the same two French opponents themselves.

As a result, the side bottom of the Premiership currently tops Pool 5, with Edinburgh and Montpellier hot on their tails. This has all serve to make Friday’s encounter in the Scottish capital even more intriguing with the winner set to assume pole position in the race for top spot. Edinburgh and Newcastle over Montpellier and Toulon… who would have thought?
Verdict: Edinburgh 4/10
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Saturday 8 December

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester
15h00
Sandy Park

To Win ( 80 mins)
Exeter Chiefs 1/5
Draw 25/1
Gloucester 33/10

After a storming start to their Premiership campaign, the Chiefs drew 10-all with Munster at home before going down at Castres in their opening Champions Cup assignments. They currently languish at the bottom of Pool 2, with this week’s match-up against Gloucester, a side they beat 23-6 a fortnight ago, set to give them a chance to make up lost ground.

Gloucester, meanwhile, will themselves be looking to keep pace with the likes of Munster and Castres at the top of the pool after losing to the former and beating the latter. But Exeter will have the mental edge.
Verdict: Exeter 1/5
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Lyon v Glasgow Warriors
15h00
Stade de Gerland

To Win (80 mins)
Lyon 6/10
Draw 20/1
Glasgow Warriors 13/10


Placed fourth in the Top 14, Lyon will be aiming to get a first win in Europe this season after losses to Cardiff and Saracens when they take on Glasgow. With qualification already a highly unlikely prospect, it will be interesting to see whether coaches Matthieu Lazerges and Raphaël Saint-André rest their front men in anticipation of another marathon of a Top 14 campaign.

On the other hand, Glasgow can fend off the attentions of the chasing Cardiff, all the while maintaining pressure on Saracens with a bonus point win this weekend.
Verdict: Glasgow 13/10
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Toulon v Montpellier
17h15
Stade Felix Mayol

To Win ( 80 mins)
Toulon 1/1
Draw 20/1
Montpellier 8/10

After claiming just nine wins from 22 matches between them in the Top 14 thus far, and having recorded shocking losses to see them languish in third and fourth place in Pool 5 respectively, there will be a lot more than just pride on the line when Toulon meet Montpellier this weekend.

As is so often the case with French sides, it becomes increasingly difficult to predict how they will fair each season; the performances of these two clubs are a case in point. While Toulon (one-point) are seemingly out of the running already, Montpellier (five) can still qualify with wins in their remaining encounters. Expect them to change their fortunes starting at the Stade Mayol on Saturday.
Verdict: Montpellier 8/10
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Bath v Leinster
17h15
The Rec

To Win ( 80 mins)
Bath 4/1
Draw 30/1
Leinster 1/7

Bath have once again endured a rather forgettable start to a campaign, both on the domestic and European fronts. Sitting in sixth place on the Premiership with just three wins, and having yet to record a win in Pool 1 of the Champions Cup (one loss and one draw), Todd Blackadder’s men haven’t had much to shout about.

Coming up against defending champions Leinster this week, they are set for more disappointment with the Irish outfit set to put their unexpected 27-18 loss at Toulouse behind them to claim what would be a fifth-consecutive win in all competitions.
Verdict: Leinster 1/7
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Wasps v Toulouse
19h30
Ricoh Arena

To Win (80 mins)
Wasps 8/10
Draw 20/1
Toulouse 1/1

If ever there were two sides with contrasting fortunes of late, it would be these two. Dai Young’s Londoners have picked up just one win from their last six outings, leaving them struggling for confidence and any kind of momentum heading into the crucial Christmas period. The Frenchmen, meanwhile, are on a run of seven-consecutive wins; a streak that has seen them rise to as high as second on the Top 14 standings.

The law of averages suggests they must suffer defeat sooner rather than later, but they may well add one more win to that set of results when they visit the Ricoh Arena this weekend.
Verdict: Toulouse 1/1
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Sunday 9 December

Munster v Castres
15h00
Thomond Park

To Win ( 80 mins)
Munster 1/14
Draw 30/1
Castres 13/2

The top two teams from Pool 2 will keep slugging it out for top spot when they meet in Limerick. The hosts are on a run of five-successive wins that has seen them close in on Glasgow at the summit of the Pro14 Conference A standings.

In the Top 14, Castres are placed seventh in a convoluted mid-table and head into this one in the midst of a relatively inconsistent run of results. Playing at home, Munster should be able to claim a win to extend their advantage in their pool.
Verdict: Munster 1/14
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Saracens v Cardiff Blues
15h00
Allianz Park

To Win ( 80 mins)
Saracens 1/25
Draw 30/1
Cardiff Blues 17/2

Saracens will feel confident of undoing a questionable Cardiff defence when they clash this weekend. The hosts have bagged five wins and a draw from their last six encounters in all competitions, while Cardiff have struggled to a four from six record.

The Blues will know that a win will mean they are right up there and challenging for a playoff berth, but considering their haphazard form of late it would come as a massive surprise to see them topple the two-time champions.
Verdict: Saracens 1/25
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Racing 92 v Leicester Tigers
17h15
Paris La Defense Arena

To Win ( 80 mins)
Racing 1/14
Draw 30/1
Cardiff Blues 13/2

Racing’s 11-16 loss at La Rochelle on the weekend ended a run of five wins that has seen them make a real assault on the top half of the Top 14. They have a two from two record so far in Europe and currently sit atop Pool 4, while their opponents this week trail them by four points.

The Tigers have endured a dismal run of six-consecutive defeats in all competitions of late and will be hard-pressed to turn that record around when they travel to Paris for Sunday’s encounter.
Verdict: Racing 1/14



Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets

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