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European Champions Cup: Round 2 Selected Fixtures Preview

Bristol Bears

Shaun Goosen previews selected fixtures from the second round of the European Champions Cup matches taking place around Europe. 

Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Friday 18 December

Wasps v Montpellier


Ricoh Arena 

To Win Match

Wasps 3/10

Draw 30/1

Montpellier 5/2


Wasps (-8.5) 17/20

Montpellier (+8.5) 17/20

Wasps will be eager to grab another win in round two when they host Montpellier at the Ricoh Arena on Friday.

The men from Coventry got their campaign underway in the best possible fashion last week when they earned a try-scoring bonus point in their win over the Dragons. Despite the do-or-die nature of this season’s Covid-19-impacted season, Lee Blackett’s men will be quietly confident of qualifying for the quarter-finals such is the talent in their squad.

Montpellier fell to Leinster at home last week. Another loss could already spell the end for their title chances but, with Wasps having rested three England internationals in Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis and Dan Robson, as well as Wales second row Will Rowlands, they could sneak a win here.

Verdict: Wasps (+8.5) 17/20

Montpellier should come away from the Ricoh with a win, but back the men from London to stay within the ‘cap.

Saturday 19 December

Leinster v Northampton Saints


RDS Arena

To Win Match

Leinster 1/100

Draw 40/1

Nothampton 15/1

Leinster’s strength in depth should lift them to another win over Northampton at the RDS Arena on Saturday.

The four-time European champions will again be without the likes of James Lowe (groin), Tadhg Furlong (calf), Jack Conan (neck), and Jordan Larmour (shoulder), while Johnny Sexton (dead leg) and Garry Ringrose’s (jaw) situations continue to be monitored. Still, such is the depth in quality at the club, they should be too good at home for a Saints team still without a win this season.

Northampton have lost all three of their Premiership matches, while last week’s 12-16 home loss to Bordeaux means it won’t be long before alarm bells start ringing for Chris Boyd’s men. It will be a tough ask for them to turn it around against this weekend’s opponents.

Verdict: Leinster 1/100

Leinster will win this. Comfortably. 

La Rochelle v Bath


Stade Marcel Deflandre

To Win Match

La Rochelle 1/7

Draw 40/1

Bath 5/1

La Rochelle should be too much for Bath when they clash at the Stade Marcel Deflandre on Saturday.

Les Corsaires narrowly beat Edinburgh 13-8 in a tough one at Murrayfield and were helped in part by Raymond Rhule’s first-half try. They’ve been positively flying this season, sitting pretty at the summit of the Top 14, and will take comfort knowing they play in familiar surroundings this weekend.

For Bath, this could be bad news. Stuart Hooper’s men fell at home to Scarlets last week and will need an almighty effort to unseat Ronan O’Gara’s men here. They’d do well to avoid a heavy defeat.

Verdict: La Rochelle

The French Team should cruise to victory here. 

Harlequins v Racing 92


The Stoop

To Win Match

Harlequins 3/1

Draw 22/1

Racing 1/4

Harlequins will look to bounce back from their opening-round loss with a win over Racing 92 at the Stoop on Saturday.

Quins fell at Thomond Park last week but will be up for this Saturday’s home clash against the Parisians. The hosts started the Premiership season well enough, winning two of their opening three, but found the going tough against the Red Army in the first round of Champions Cup action.

Racing earned a hard-fought 26-22 win over a determined Connacht outfit last week. Last season’s runners-up are third on the Top 14 after a bright domestic start themselves and will doubtless have knockout European rugby in mind in 2020/21. They should sneak another win in London this weekend.

Verdict: Racing 92

Racing should have the measure of Quins, but the English side could run the French club close. 

Clermont Auvergne v Munster


Stade Marcel Michelin

To Win Match

Clermont 1/4

Draw 22/1

Munster 29/10

Clermont Auvergne will be looking for another big bonus-point win when they host Munster at the Stade Marcel Michelin.

Clermont scored a whopping seven tries in their 51-38 thumping of Bristol last week, with Pretoria-born Japanese international Kotaro Matsushima bagging a hattrick. They may be in for a tougher test against a stoic and more defensive-minded Munster side this week, but should still be too powerful.

It’s been nine long years since Munster last tasted trophy success and they always head into the Champions Cup season with massive ambition. The men from Limerick saw off Harlequins 21-7 at home in round one but pulling off a positive result in Clermont-Ferrand could do their campaign wonders. That said, they may just come up short.

Verdict: Clermont 1/4 

Clermont look to be in ominous form. Back them to bag the win here. 

Sunday 20 December 

Connacht v Bristol Bears


Galway Greyhound Stadium

To Win Match

Connacht 21/20

Draw 20/1

Bristol 8/10

Both Connacht and Bristol Bears will look to come good this weekend after opening-round losses when they clash at the Galway Greyhound Stadium on Sunday.

The hosts lost out to Racing 92 in Paris by just four points last week. They did well to fight back but a big first-half deficit proved too much in the end. Considering Bristol scored five tries in their thriller against Clermont, Connacht’s defence cannot afford a bad day out.

The Bears should be going full throttle again. Pat Lam’s Challenge Cup winners play some of the most glamourous footy in the game, but they should be wary of a Connacht side that were within a whisker of pipping Racing last week. That said, the English side should be too good.

Verdict: Bristol 8/10

Back the Bears here. 8/10 represents great value.

Written by Shaun Goosen.

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