Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Heineken Champions Cup Preview: Pools 3 and 4

Heineken Champions Cup Preview: Pools 3 and 4

Billy Vunipola of Saracens is tackled by Ben Moon of Exeter Chiefs

Darry Worthington takes a look at how the teams in Pool 3 and 4 are shaping up for the 2019/20 season, which gets underway on Friday the 15th of November. 

The World Cup may be over but there's still a plethora of action to see us through to the New Year, with the star attraction being the early phases of the Heineken Cup

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sport

Pool 3

Last season's European Challenge Cup winners will be looking for yet another solid European campaign. They've been drawn in a rather tough pool which features English clubs Bath and Harlequins, as well as Irish province, Ulster.

After a slow start, Clermont have experienced an upswing in fortunes n the domestic front winning three of their last five Top 14 fixtures.

They have a handy old squad packed with some wily foreign internationals as well as a couple of promising French youngsters.

Camille Lopez of Clermont scores a try against Agen
Camille Lopez will need to be on song as Clermont re-enter Europe's top table. Image Copyright SSteve Haag Sport

Star Attraction: Camille Lopez
The pivot, although not handed many starts, was a key cog for the French during their World Cup campaign. He's exactly what you want from a general in Europe, as he controls the game with an educated boot.

The English club have been perennial underachievers on both the domestic front and in Europe over the last few years. And if their domestic form is anything to go by, they may well struggle in the Heineken Cup.

The English club had a tough old time of it in Europe last season as they only registered one win from their six pool fixtures. While they were in a stern pool, which featured Leinster, Wasps and Toulouse - one win from six outings is simply not good enough for a club with Bath's stature.

Star Attraction: Zach Mercer
The forgotten loose forward of English rugby has enjoyed a blistering start to the domestic campaign and has been talismanic for Bath during their opening four domestic matches. Blessed with pace most wings would envy, Mercer will be at the forefront of Bath's assault.

Like Bath, 'Quins have hardly been a force to reckon with in Europe over the past half-decade. They haven't enjoyed a very bright start to their domestic campaign having lost three of their opening four Aviva Premiership matches.

'Quins have a decent enough squad but they look slightly long in the tooth, particularly upfront.

Kyle Sinckler of Harlequins carries the ball
Kyle Sinckler will look to bring his World Cup form back with him the Harlequins. Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sport

Star Attraction: Kyle Sinckler
The big man had a fantastic World Cup putting in some great performances at the coal face. 'Quins will be hoping his form continues and that he gives them dominance at scrum-time. 

The Irish Province will fancy their chances of topping this pool. They have a handy looking squad and have retained most of the playing personnel that got them to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals last season.

Ulster have also enjoyed a decent start to this season's PRO14 winning four of their opening six games. They will be hoping that form carries through to the Heineken Cup.

Star Attraction: Jacob Stockdale
The man scores tries for fun. Expect him to be Ulster's top try-scorer this season. He'll also be close to topping the tournament charts should Ulster get to the semi-finals.

Pool 4

The Irish Province will be looking to go one better than they did last season and advance all the way to the final. They were soundly beaten in last year's semi-finals by Saracens, who just so happen to be their pool phase opponents this term.

Munster have enjoyed a great start to their season and currently reside in first place in Conference B of the Top 14. They have only suffered defeat once this term, and that was away to the Free State Cheetahs, who have been racking up home wins for fun.

Joey Carbery of Ireland passes the ball against New Zealand
Joey Carbery will be key at pivot for Munster this term. Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sport. 

Star Attraction: Joey Carbery
The pivot will be looking for a better end to 2019 after his ill-fated World Cup. He's a class player who will be pushing hard to make the Ireland number 10 jersey his own.

The Welsh club are back in the big time having won last season's play-off fixture. Don't expect them to do too much, however, as they had been absolutely dire on the domestic front only winning one of the six PRO14 games they have played thus far.

This sort of season was to be expected of course as the Ospreys have a very limited squad. The best they can hope for here is to no become the tournament's whipping boys.

Star Attraction: Gareth Anscombe
The former New Zealander was desperately unlucky to pick up a serious knee injury before Wales' World Cup campaign as he was in great touch during the early salvos of the year. He's a dynamic player who is capable of getting this limited Ospreys backline going.

The London club are in all sorts of trouble headed into the Heineken Cup having been docked 35 Gallagher Premiership points for financial mismanagement. They have little to play for on the domestic front so they will be targeting Europe.

Sarries had a great time of it last season winning all their fixtures on the way to claiming the 2018/19 Heineken Cup. They have the squad to repeat the feat this season as well.

Itoje's industry around the pitch will be vital as Saracens look to defend their title. Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sport.

Star Attraction: Maro Itoje
The English lock is heading into this tournament off a sensational World Cup campaign and 'Sarries will be hoping his great form continues at club level.

Racing Metro 92
Racing are under a bit of pressure this season with a number of their stars having moved on. Their poor start to the French Top 14 has also contributed to this as they have only won four of their opening nine games and currently sit 10th in the standings.

They had a decent enough time of it last season advancing to the quarter-finals where they went down by just a point to an in-form Toulouse side.

Star Attraction: Joaquín Díaz Bonilla
Bonilla is a rather interesting signing. While he's not the most athletic of tens, he's a solid player who will help Racing offer a solid back up option to Finn Russell.

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