Heineken Cup: expect no upsets with home victories for favourites
The Heineken Cup is not generally known for massive upsets and this weekend promises to be no different.
With three televised games though, there are plenty of punts worth looking into for this Saturday’s action.
Leicester Tigers vs ASM Clermont Auvergne (Saturday,1.30pm)
Leicester were beaten convincingly 30-12 by a rampant Clermont side last week but the Aviva Premiership side are clear favourites to triumph at 8/15.
Group leaders Clermont, however, with their backs in prolific form have won their last two European games, and a win would put them in the driving seat in Pool 4.
The Tigers’ 17-match unbeaten European run, combined with Clermont’s dismal away record – two wins in ten – suggests a Leicester win.
Clermont face a front row injury crisis after Georgian prop David Zirakashvili fractured his arm last week.
Meanwhile, England and Leicester prop Dan Cole signed a three year extension, boosting their forward line, which Clermont will struggle to contain.
Gloucester Rugby vs Connacht Rugby (3.40pm)
Gloucester have not lit up the Cup this season, but they should have too much for the competition’s newcomers.
Their bonus points suggest good performances but they will need to continue this trend to have a chance to progress to the knockout stages.
Connacht, yet to record a cup win, lost last week’s game in west Ireland which saw a battling Gloucester triumph 10-14.
Back on English soil, Gloucester will have too much for Connacht and are 1/14 to win.
Leinster Rugby vs Bath Rugby (6.00pm)
The 2011 Heineken Cup champions host Bath after last week’s hard-fought 13-18 triumph and are favourites at 1/12.
In Europe, the Dubliners are on an impressive eight home game winning run, while Bath have lost their last three fixtures.
With a sell-out crowd at the Aviva, the West Country side will be under too much pressure to dent Leinster’s group topping ambition.
Bath languish 10th in the Aviva Premiership while a team that is without the injured Lewis Moody, winger Tom Biggs and hooker Pieter Dixon will struggle to threaten the tournament favourites at home.
They will, however, benefit from second-row Ross Batty’s return after a serious knee gash suffered against Montpellier.