Challenge Cup: Round 6 Preview

rugby players engage into a scrum

The final set of European Rugby Challenge Cup Pool phase games will get underway on Friday the 18th of January. 

The Challenge Cup Pool phase will come to a close this weekend, and boy are we in for an intriguing round with a number of teams still duking it out in a bid to secure a spot in the next round of the tournament.

Grenoble v Treviso
Friday 18 January
Stade des Alpes

To Win (80 Mins)
Grenoble
Draw
Treviso

We get things underway with a clash between French minnows Grenoble and Italian powerhouse Treviso. The hosts head into this one with no chance of advancing to the next round while a win for the visitors would secure their spot in the knock-out phase.

In terms of last weekend's results, Grenoble 38-20 lost to the Harlequins while Treviso beat Agen 38-24. When the two sides met earlier in the season, Treviso ran out 40-14 winners out in Italy.

Verdict: Treviso
With no chance of qualification to the next phase of the tournament, the hosts are likely to field a very weak side. Treviso should make mincemeat out of their under-strength opponents.
________________________________________________

Agen v Harlequins
Friday 18 January
Stade Armandie

To Win (80 Mins)
Agen
Draw
Harlequins

The second and final Pool 5 fixture of the round sees pool leaders Harlequins take on bottom-placed side, Agen. The visitors secured qualification for the next round of the tournament by beating Grenoble by 18 points last Saturday, while Agen went down by 14 points to Treviso.

Verdict: Harlequins
They're already assured of a place in the knock-out phase but 'Quins still need to win this one - or hope Zebre lose against Grenoble - to claim top spot on the log. I can see them claiming the maximum points against what will be a very experimental Agen side.
________________________________________________

Northampton Saints v Timisoara Saracens
Friday 18 January
Franklin's Gardens

To Win (80 Mins)
Northampton
Draw
Timisoara

We remain in England for our next fixture which sees Pool 1's second-placed side, Northampton, play hosts to cellar-dwellers Timisoara. The hosts are all but assured a spot in the next round and may well field a weakened side against the Russian minnows who have lost all four of their previous games and have a points differential of minus 212.

Verdict: Northampton
The Saints are likely to field a lot of their academy graduates against Timisoara. Despite an expected weakened squad, I can still see the English club claiming a win in excess of 30 points.
________________________________________________

Dragons v Clermont
Friday 18 January
Rodney Parade

To Win (80 Mins)
Dragons
Draw
Clermont

Our next fixture is a rather interesting one with an already qualified Clermont side likely to send a second strength squad to Wales to take on a Dragons outfit who are out of the running for the knock-out phase.

The visitors made it four successive bonus point wins last weekend as they beat the Northampton Saints 48-40 at the Stade Marcel-Michelin. The Dragons also enjoyed a winning weekend in Round 5 as they beat Timisoara Saracens 59-3.

Verdict: Dragons
I have a sneaky suspicion we may well see an upset here. Clermont won't care about this game at all while the Dragons will be wanting to end their tournament on a high.
________________________________________________

Pau v Ospreys
Saturday 19 January
Stade du Hameau

To Win (80 Mins)
Pau
Draw
Ospreys

Our next fixture is also a French-Welsh affair with Pool 2's second-placed side the Ospreys taking on last-placed Pau. The hosts still have a shout of qualifying as one of the best-placed pool runner's up while Pau are out of the running.

Both teams head into this one off the back of defeats with the Ospreys going down 18-20 to Worcester and Pau losing 35-14 to local rivals Stade Francais.

Verdict: Ospreys
Pau are horrendous travellers and I give them little chance of avoiding a defeat by less than eight points.
________________________________________________

Worcester Warriors v Stade Francais
Saturday 19 January
Sixways Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Worcester
Draw
Stade

We head to England for our next fixture where the Worcester Warriors need just a solitary point from their clash with French big guns, Stade Francais, to secure a spot in the knockout phase of the tournament. The visitors are all but out of the running for a spot in the next round as they only have 10 points from their opening five fixtures.

The two sides head into this one off the back of victories with Stade beating Pau at home and Worcester beating the Ospreys away. The reverse leg of Saturday's tie saw Worcester run out 27-38 victors in Paris.

Verdict: Worcester
Stade will more than likely send a second-string squad to England this weekend. I can see Worcester taking advantage of this by running out victors by 10 points or more.
________________________________________________

Zebre v La Rochelle
Saturday 19 January
Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi

To Win (80 Mins)
Zebre
Draw
La Rochelle

We move from England back to Italy for our next fixture which will see a desperate Zebre side taking on already qualified La Rochelle. The hosts need to claim at least a win here to have any chance of advancing to the next round as they currently sit two points off the pool's second-placed side, Bristol. Even if they do register a win, they would need Bristol to go down to the groups whipping boys, Ensei-STM.

La Rochelle, on the other hand, need just one point from this game to secure top spot in the pool they have dominated from the outset. The French club registered their fourth win from five games last weekend as they beat Zebre 32-14 out in France.

Verdict: La Rochelle
This could actually prove to be a rather tight contest with Zebre far more scrappy on home soil than on the road. While La Rochelle should get the win here, I can't see them beating their opponents by more than a converted try.
________________________________________________

Bordeaux Begles v Connacht
Saturday 19 January
Stade Chaban-Delmas

To Win (80 Mins)
Bordeaux
Draw
Connacht

It's back to France for Saturday's next installment which will see Pool 3's third-placed side Bordeaux take on second-placed side Connacht. The hosts are out of the running for a spot in the next round while Connacht need a win here to guarantee themselves a knock-out berth.

Both teams head into this encounter off the back of wins with Connacht beating the Sale Sharks by two points and Bordeaux beating Perpignan by seven.

Verdict: Connacht
Bordeaux are out of the running for a play-off spot so they may well decide to rest a few of their key men so as they are fresh for domestic duty. I can see the visitors taking advantage of this by registering a vital away win.
________________________________________________

Sale Sharks v Perpignan
Saturday 19 January
AJ Bell Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Sale
Draw
Perpignan

The other Pool 3 fixture will see table-toppers Sale take on cellar-dwellers Perpignan. The French outfit are yet to win a game this season and come into this one off the back of a home loss to Bordeaux, while Sale suffered their second defeat of the campaign last weekend as they went down to Connacht.

Verdict: Sale
The Sharks may be heading into this one off the back of a disappointing defeat but I reckon they'll bounce back in style by registering a big win over the French minnows. My money is on the hosts winning it by 20 points or more.
________________________________________________

Bristol v Ensei-STM
Saturday 19 January
Ashton Gate

To Win (80 Mins)
Bristol
Draw
Ensei

We close out the pool phase of this year's Challenge Cup with a clash between impressive English side Bristol and Russian minnows Ensei-STM. The visitors have been well and truly beaten by everyone they have faced this term and head into the game off the back of a 9-65 defeat to this weekend's opponents.

Verdict: Bristol
The minus is likely to be massive here but I reckon Bristol will clear anything under 55 points.


Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets

Twitter - HollywoodbetsInstagram - HollywoodbetsFacebook - Hollywoodbets

Hollywoodbets - Play with your Mobile Today - Sports Betting - Mobile Betting - Thumbs Up