The Rugby Championship might be taking a break but it’s full steam ahead in Europe as the domestic leagues continue.
There’s Premiership, PRO12 and Top 14 action to feast on including plenty of highlights, with Saracens visiting struggling Harlequins while Bath make the trip to Welford Road to take on old rivals Leicester.
Meanwhile in the PRO12 two in-form outfits in Glasgow Warriors and Ulster face off, as do Leinster and the Ospreys who both have major play-off ambitions.
Plenty of attention this Sunday however will be on the mega clash in the Top 14, when top of the table Clermont Auvergne make the trip to Toulon.
Leicester Tigers v Bath
This might come as a shock if you have glossed over the start of the Premiership season, but Bath are top of the table following the first three rounds after their three wins over Northampton (away), Newcastle and Worcester. Considering the disaster that was Mike Ford’s last season in charge, it has been some turnaround for the blue, black and white who are playing some sensational rugby despite a number of injuries throughout the pack. Kahn Fotuali’i has gelled quickly with George Ford at half-back, and the England number 10 looks full of confidence.
Leicester meanwhile have stuttered somewhat, escaping from Newcastle last Sunday with victory by the skin of their teeth. They have also already been defeated this season at Welford Road, that imposing ground, by upstarts Wasps. A win therefore would settle the nerves after the near mishap away to the Falcons. But Bath are making the trip with their tails up. Bath by six.
Other Premiership predictions:
Bristol v Exeter Chiefs: Chiefs by 17
Gloucester v Newcastle Falcons: Gloucester by 5
Harlequins v Saracens: Saracens by 10
Northampton Saints v Wasps: Wasps by 6
Worcester Warriors v Sale Sharks: Sale by 3
Leinster v Ospreys
The Ospreys might be top of the PRO12 and have a maximum 15 out of 15 possible points so far but it’s been an easy run, with home games up against the two Italian sides helping them to steal an early march over their opponents. Leinster away will be a tougher test and a special one too for Alun Wyn Jones, as the great lock makes his 200th appearance. Wales half-backs Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar will be tasked with steering the ship.
Leinster have won two out of their first three games but welcome back a number of big names, of which Jonathan Sexton’s return at fly-half is certainly one. Leo Cullen’s side look much stronger than in the opening weeks of the season which should make this a tight contest. Ospreys by six.
Other PRO12 predictions:
Treviso v Newport Gwent Dragons: Treviso by 5
Glasgow Warriors v Ulster: Glasgow by 8
Munster v Edinburgh: Munster by 10
Zebre v Cardiff Blues: Blues by 12
Scarlets v Connacht: Scarlets by 8
Toulon v Clermont
Two very different Round 5 matches for these Top 14 juggernauts – with Clermont giving Bordeaux-Bègles giving a pasting at home to move top of the league ahead of La Rochelle while Toulon left it all too late away to Racing 92, eventually succumbing to a 41-30 loss despite a late charge.
What’s been so impressive about les Jaunards thus far has been the amount of points they’re scoring – 173 so far through five matches. That means Toulon’s defence will be kept extremely busy and also cannot allow Morgan Parra any penalty opportunities. With Toulon’s issues, and Clermont on a hot streak, it would be wrong to not back the league leaders to get the result. Three wins and two draws so far for them.
Other Top 14 predictions:
Castres v Racing 92: Racing by 7
Bordeaux-Bègles v Lyon: UBB by 8
Grenoble v Pau: Pau by 9
La Rochelle v Bayonne: La Rochelle by 5
Toulouse v Stade Français: Toulouse by 3
Montpellier v Brive: Montpellier by 12