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Nic Ladds 12th Dec 2009 - 8:49

Tuck in to Heineken Cup lunch time action

We are treated this weekend to round three of Heineken Cup action which will edge us a step closer to know who will qualify from the pools. A host of games are live on television for you to enjoy over the weekend and here we have a preview of each so you know where to put your cash.

Ulster v Stade Francais - 13:30 live on Sky Sports 2

7/4 chances Ulster face a tough task at Ravenhill to see off the French challenge of the mighty Stade Francais who are as short as 2/5 to leave Ireland with a victory.

The crowd could be vital to the home side as their ferocious support can spur the team on and many punters may like them with a five point head start on the handicap at odds of 10/11, but they are going to need the support after a disappointing loss to Edinburgh in their last Magners League game may have dented the confidence of the side.

Key front man BJ Botha misses the game for Ulster as does Timoci Nagusa and Andrew Trimble and Simon Danelli will have to be at their best to try and get some early scores for the home side.

Stade have not yet lost in this competition with a narrow win over Bath and an impressive home victory over Edinburgh and even with Sergio Parisse missing they can still call on the likes of James Haskell, Tom Palmer and Rodrigo Roncero in the pack and Ollie Phillips, Lionel Beauxis and Julien Dupuy in the backs.

Despite the home advantage Stade look too strong for Ulster and a winning margin to the away side of 6-10 at 9/2 or 11-15 at 5/1 look the way to riches today, while they would also be expected to cover the five point handicap at 10/11 as if Stade are going to be serious challengers this year, this is the kind of game they need to be winning.

View Ulster v Stade Francais betting

Viadana v Ospreys - 13:30 live on Sky Sports Red Button

There is little doubt in most people's minds that the Ospreys will trounce Italian minnows Viadana who are 9/1 to cause an upset while the away side are 1/25 to record the expected win.

The home side lost by 16 points to Clermont and 35 points to Leicester so Ospreys should be able to cover the handicap which sees them giving up 20 points at odds of 10/11.

The Welsh side are hoping to hand a debut to scrum-half Ricky Januarie who will get a run out if fit enough while James Hook and Ryan Jones are definitely out along with Shane Williams and a host of others which does leave the Ospreys squad looking a little thin.

They will sweep the Italian side out the way for sure but with so many injuries they may take their foot off the gas later on - something which they have been known for doing before so maybe a winning margin of 16-20 at 6/1 or 11-15 at 8/1 may be a better option to the handicap betting.

View Viadana v Ospreys betting

Cardiff v Toulouse - 15:45 - live on Sky Sports 2

In a game that has the makings of a classic, even money shots Cardiff come up against a Toulouse side who ooze quality all over the pitch and they are 4/5 to leave Wales with another victory.

The French side won away at The Stoop already in the competition but that was against an out-of-form Harlequins and this will be a tougher test as Cardiff showed they can battle also, going down by just a point away at Sale.

This is almost too close to call which is demonstrated by the fact the handicap has Cardiff giving up just a point at odds of 10/11 and some punters may even like the draw at 18/1.

Leigh Halfpenny (12/1 for first try), Jamie Roberts (16/1) and Andy Powell (25/1) all return to the side after putting in an excellent display for the Barbarians last week and will be crucial to the Blues' chances of success.

Toulouse boast one of the best back lines in the world made up almost entirely of French international players with wingers Vincent Clerc (12/1) and Cedric Heymans (12/1) capable of single-handedly winning games, then Maxime Medard (16/1) and Yannick Jauzion (14/1) also carry potent threats and with Thierry Dusautoir (25/1) leading the pack, they are a force to be reckoned with for anyone.

Despite these great players though, Toulouse sit just fifth in their domestic league and Cardiff should take this on home turf, not by much but a winning margin of 1-5 points at 9/2 or 6-10 points at 6/1 look in the right area while a 1-5 point victory to the away side is 9/2 also but the Blues can take this to set up a thriller in Toulouse next weekend.

View Cardiff v Toulouse betting


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