European Rugby Champions Cup Preview January 12-14
Leaders, La Rochelle, travel to Ulster, knowing victory will see them advance to the next stage of the competition. They were comfortable 41-17 winners when the two teams met in France in October, but Ulster are currently the highest ranked second-placed team, and can go top of Group 1 with victory.
Wasps are not out of the race to qualify just yet, and will be confident of winning at Harlequins, who have lost their four games.
Clermont have all but qualified with four wins from four games, and can cement their place in the next round with a win at Northampton Saints. The home side have picked up just one-point in this year’s Champions Cup, and were soundly beaten 24-7 when they visited the French side.
Ospreys are well positioned to qualify as one of the best ranked second-placed teams, and can take a big step towards the next stage with victory over visiting Saracens. When the sides last met, Saracens edged a thriller 36-34, so expect another tight game.
Leinster’s 100% record sees them with one foot in the next round, which can be confirmed with victory against bottom side Glasgow. The Irish club have won all of their games by modest margins, the biggest being the 34-18 success in Glasgow.
Montpellier Herault face a tough trip to the Exeter Chiefs, as both sides hope to snatch that second-place spot and a chance of qualifying. The Chiefs won 27-24 when the two sides met in Montpellier, and will be confident of repeating that success in front of their home crowd to put the pressure on the French side.
Top of the table, Munster, travel to Racing 92, who currently sit second in the group. Munster ran out 14-7 winners when the sides met in Ireland, and know victory in Paris will see them reach the next stage.
Castres Olympique and Leicester Tigers meet in the French city, but both sides know they have little chance of qualifying. Leicester won their only game of the competition when hosting Castres, beating them 54-29.
Leader’s, Bath, and third-placed, Scarlets, get the action underway on Friday night, when the two sides meet in the tightest group of the tournament. Bath won 18-13 in Llanelli when visiting the Scarlets and can take a giant stride towards qualification with victory at the Recreation Ground.
Toulon, who lost their first game of the campaign in Bath when defeated 26-21, host Italian side Treviso. Toulon should win this and all but book their place in the next round, dependant on what happens in Bath.
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