RUCK’s European Champions Cup Round 3 predictions: Can Saracens continue their winning run?
After two weeks of league rugby, we’re back to European action this weekend with RUCK looking into their crystal ball to make their predictions.
The weekend’s European Champions’ Cup action commences on Friday night with Ulster against Toulouse before six games on Saturday and three games on Sunday.
Here’s a reminder of the round 2 action.
In what is sure to be yet another exciting weekend in the Europe’s biggest club competition, RUCK looks ahead to the action.
Ulster v Toulouse (Pool 1, Friday 19:45)
Toulouse were convincing winners against Oyonnax in the top 14 last weekend. However, French sides traditionally are poor on their travels so Ulster, who have been strong on home turf so far this season, could be the winners here.
The Irish province must win or their chances of progression would be just about over. With that in mind, I see Ulster coming out on top in this one, they’ll be solid and they’ll look to open Toulouse up with the likes of scrum-half Ruan Pienaar looking to exploit any gaps.
RUCK PREDICTS: Ulster by 7
Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets (Pool 3, Saturday 13:00)
Glasgow are starting to rediscover their form while Scarlets’ results have been flattering as of late with their fine back line making up for their faltering scrum.
We are backing a home win but if Scarlets can get their combinations linking up, they would be hard to stop.
RUCK PREDICTS: Glasgow by 5
Racing Metro 92 v Northampton Saints (Pool 3, Saturday 15:15)
Both these sides have perfect records in this tournament so far, setting this up as potentially the game of the weekend.
Racing are going well in the Top14 in fourth and have recently welcomed global icon Dan Carter to the club, who could potentially make his debut.
However, this game is likely to be won up front, with both sides having dominant-looking packs. Home advantage should see the French side over the line, but Saints have been improving in recent weeks, making this an interesting clash and definitely one to watch.
RUCK PREDICTS: Racing Metro by 7
Benetton Treviso v Stade Francais (Pool 4, Saturday 15:15)
Both these sides have lost all their games so far.
Stade Francais are the French champions but have really struggled this season and sit 11th in the Top 14 table.
Treviso though are cemented to the bottom of the Pro12 and in truth have been very poor, failing to register a single win so far this season.
This should be a morale-boosting bonus-point win for the French side.
RUCK PREDICTS: Stade Francais by 20
Exeter Chiefs v Clermont Auvergne (Pool 2, Saturday 17:15)
Exeter are coming off the back of a run of fantastic results, including an improbable win away against Wasps last weekend.
Clermont also come into the clash off the back of a win against Brive in the Top 14 last time out. The French visitors are somewhat the nearly boys who always make the latter stages only to come up short.
They are top of the Top14 but have shown signs of fragility in recent weeks while Exeter have done the opposite in the past few weeks, going from strength to strength with a run of notable victories.
The Chiefs are a good team, and this would be a big win for them if they want to look towards establishing themselves as one of European Rugby’s big hitters.
RUCK PREDICTS: Exeter by 3
Ospreys v Bordeaux Begles (Pool 2, Saturday 17:15)
We are not sure how this is going to go but are going to go for a home win here as I haven’t been that impressed by Bordeaux at all this season compared to recent years, while Ospreys seem to be a team in the ascendancy following a woeful start to the season.
Ospreys have been really unlucky with their injuries but they need to start winning quickly or they’re season, both domestically and in Europe, will be all but over before Christmas
RUCK PREDICTS: Ospreys by 7
Munster v Leicester Tigers (Pool 4, Saturday 19:45)
Munster are sitting 3rd in the Pro12 but have not been convincing while Leicester have started the season well and have recorded bonus-point victories in their two European Champions Cup matches so far.
The Tigers are flying and they’ll continue that form on Saturday, helped by their ever-vocal crowd at Welford Road.
RUCK PREDICTS: Leicester by 7
US Oyonnax v Saracens (Pool 1, Sunday 13:00)
This is must-win for Saracens as the reigning Premiership champions look to maintain their incredible start to the 2015/16 season that has seen them win all eight matches in all competitions.
Meanwhile, Oyonnax lost their Champions Cup opener and have struggled domestically, sitting rock bottom of the Top 14 table.
The contrasts in form suggest it is impossible to predict anything other than a bonus-point away victory for Sarries.
RUCK PREDICTS: Saracens by 15
Toulon v Leinster (Pool 5, Sunday 15:15)
This game is another big one. Toulon made a terrible delayed start to their Champion Cup title defence as they were thumped by Wasps last time out, while Leinster have lost two from two, meaning another defeat could end their chances of progression.
But the big money-spenders Toulon have since been in devastating form and their International stars are starting to fire with Ma’a Nonu now in the equation after making his bow last weekend.
RUCK PREDICTS: Toulon by 15
Wasps v Bath (Pool 5, Sunday, 17:15)
We don’t see Wasps losing this one. The pair were both on the end of crushing defeats in the Premiership last time out. Nevertheless, they both have a perfect record so far in the Champions Cup so far although Bath have played a game less than the hosts.
The hosts are susceptible to the strange defeat, but overall they tend to be hard to beat while Bath have been struggling so far this season.
We don’t see how Bath can put up with Wasps when they get going, particularly at the Ricoh Arena.