By William Hill
Last Updated: 5th December 2019
The European Rugby Champions Cup is heating up and this weekend marks the halfway point in the pool fixtures. So far we have seen a mix of big statement wins and brave losses, but European campaigns can hang in the balance if this weekend doesn’t go to plan.
We preview some of the fixtures from round three of the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Northampton Saints vs Leinster
Premiership high-flyers Northampton take on European behemoths Leinster in the early game on Saturday, and this could be a cracker. Saints have played some really expansive rugby under Chris Boyd and demolished rivals Leicester Tigers in the East Midlands derby last weekend.
Leinster are always a team to fear, both domestically and in Europe, and are not to be underestimated at Franklin’s Gardens. However, with both Matt Proctor and Taqele Naiyaravoro offering big mismatches in the backline, Northampton could spring a surprise against the Irish outfit.
While they may not win, it is set to be a tight affair, so Saints on the handicap (+7) at 10/11 could offer plenty of value.
Munster vs Saracens
A huge game in Pool 4 sees Munster host Saracens in a battle of two of Europe’s heavyweights. Thomond Park is a fortress for Munster, while Saracens are looking to bounce back from their off-field issues and let their performances do the talking.
Munster are 4/6 favourites, but Saracens don’t lose games of rugby very often, regardless of where in the world they take place. The handicap seems small at 2, but this could be a statement win for an embattled Sarries squad, and they are 6/5 to return from the Emerald Isle with a valuable European win.
Toulouse vs Montpellier
It’s an all-French affair in Pool 5, with Toulouse hosting Montpellier. The pool is nicely poised, however Toulouse have ground out two good wins so far against Connacht and Gloucester. Hosting their compatriots should give them an edge, and they are 1/4 to win at home.
Montpellier need to have a deep European run to realise their potential as a squad, which is filled with big names including South Africa’s World Cup-winning flyhalf, Handre Pollard. This game could have fireworks, with superstar players all over the pitch, and both teams inclined to play running rugby.