Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Heineken Champions Cup - Round 3: Pool 3, 4 and 5 Preview

Heineken Champions Cup - Round 3: Pool 3, 4 and 5 Preview

Francois Louw of Bath Rugby during the Heineken Champions Cup match between Bath Rugby and Leinster Rugby

Shaun Goosen previews the pool 3, 4 and 5 of the Heineken Champions Cup fixtures taking place between Friday and Sunday.

Friday 6 December

Bath Rugby v Clermont Auvergne
The Recreation Ground

A win over Clermont at the Rec will be non-negotiable for Bath if they are to keep their slim playoff aspirations alive.

The Somerset-based club have lost both of their previous Champions Cup fixtures so far this season, while their form in the Gallagher Premiership hasn’t been much better; picking up just two wins from five games.

After winning at home over Harlequins, Clermont came unstuck against Ulster in Belfast. They occupy second in the pool but remain favourites to go on to qualify. Domestically, the Yellow Army were victorious in six of their opening 10 Top 14 matches.

Verdict: Clermont by 10
While Bath will be desperate for a win at home on Friday, Clermont’s class should see them take it. Back the Englishmen to finish within 10, though.

Saturday 7 December

Ulster v Harlequins
Ravenhill Stadium

Ulster will be eager to keep intact their unbeaten European run when they host Harlequins at Ravenhill on Saturday.

Two wins from their opening two games has seen Dan McFarland’s charges assume control of the pool. Their away result at the Rec, coupled with a home defeat of Clermont, has put them in a fantastic position from which to go on to qualify.

They host a Quins outfit they will feel are ripe for plucking this weekend. Chris Robshaw and his side don’t boast the same overall quality of Quins teams of old and, considering the form of the likes of Marcell Coetzee, are likely to come unstuck in Northern Ireland.

Verdict: Ulster by eight
Ulster will pose questions at the breakdown and should be good enough to secure a win of eight or more.

Munster v Saracens
Thomond Park

Munster can keep their playoff destiny in their own hands with a win over Saracens at Thomond Park on Saturday.

The Irish giants won well at Ospreys before drawing with Racing 92 in the opening two rounds of the Champions Cup Another positive result against Sarries will set them up nicely for a quarterfinal berth.

The Londoners, meanwhile, will be desperate to reclaim their European crown this season after their Premiership hopes ended thanks to their salary cap breach.

A win and a loss in their first two matches sees them occupy third in the pool. They can ill-afford another loss if they are to qualify.

Verdict: Saracens by five
Saracens’ desperation should see them claim a much-needed away result at Munster, albeit by just a few.

Ospreys v Racing 92
Liberty Stadium

Racing 92 will be favourites to win big when they travel to Swansea to tackle Ospreys at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The Parisian outfit may not be enjoying their best season domestically, but they should have enough in their arsenal to dispatch Ospreys and keep intact their European playoff aspirations.

Ospreys have claimed just one win all season, coming in the Pro14. These results make for poor reading and their form is unlikely to change this weekend.

Verdict: Racing 92 by 14-points
Racing should claim a comfortable win by two or more scores.

Sunday 8 December

Gloucester v Connacht Rugby
Kingsholm Stadium

Gloucester need to bounce back after two opening-round losses when they host Connacht at the Kingsholm on Sunday.

Johan Ackermann’s side’s narrow defeats to Toulouse and Montpellier have been detrimental to their playoff aspirations. A win on Sunday will be a big confidence boost; though it may still be too late for them.

Connacht did well to beat Montpellier at home in round one, but they followed that up with a disappointing loss in Toulouse. As Pool 5’s Dark Horses, they will look to cause a stir by condemning Gloucester to another loss.

Verdict: Gloucester by five
The hosts should just get over the line, though Bundee Aki and co. are certainly capable of causing an upset. 

Toulouse v Montpellier
Stade Ernest-Wallon

Toulouse can extend their unbeaten run in the competition with a win over neighbours Montpellier at the Stade Ernest-Wallon on Sunday.

The Top 14 champions were outmatched by the same opponents 22-33 when they clashed in Montpellier back in October but will feel more confident at home this weekend.

Montpellier’s loss to Connacht definitely threw a spanner in the works, but they’d still back themselves to get out of the pool. They will be up for it on Sunday and will run Toulouse closer.

Verdict: Toulouse by five
In what’s set to be another tightly-contested affair, the hosts should just about manage to get the job done.

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.

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