This weekend's predictions!

Date published: April 25 2014

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's predictions from both hemispheres.

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's predictions from both hemispheres.

European rugby is back! And this weekend's last-ever Heineken Cup semi-finals are sure to be monumental. The mighty Clermont head to Twickenham to take on the kings of England on Saturday before the men of Munster make their way to Marseille a day later to tackle rugby's galacticos, Toulon.

While most eyes north of the Equator will be trained on those twin venues, rugby fans in Scotland are more interested in Saturday's crunch derby between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh at Scotstoun, with the result carrying huge implications for the former's hopes of a home PRO12 semi-final.

There's some all-English Challenge Cup action too as Northampton Saints battle Harlequins on Friday in what appears to be a mouth-watering contest between second and fifth place in the Premiership.

And while all these blockbuster games play out in the Northern Hemisphere, Super Rugby continues to offer its pure blend of skill, thrills and spills in the SANZAR nations.

In short, it's another bumper weekend of rugby, and that means one thing…a bumper weekend of rugby betting!

Let's get started.

Heineken Cup

Saracens v Clermont: Semi-final round one plays out away from Clermont's Auvergne stronghold where they hold an infamous 76 game unbeaten streak. That's important, because – as French teams perennially prove themselves to be – they are shaky on their travels. They've registered just one away win in 2014 at Harlequins back in January, and their penchant for fading in and out of games, blowing hot and cold, is legendary. Yet Clermont are brimming with talent and a backline that screams “danger”; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Napolioni Nalaga, Wesley Fofana – the list goes on.

Sarries, meanwhile, are an incredibly cohesive unit – perhaps lacking the huge names of their cross-Channel rivals but a side very much in sync. The Vunipola brothers and Schalk Brits will carry and punch holes, Owen Farrell will pull the strings and Chris Ashton will score. It's a well-oiled machine and one most sides have struggled to disrupt this season.

So, to the odds. Paddy Power have the “visitors” as slight favourites, and we'd agree. In terms of a winning margin, backing Clermont by 1-5 points is your best bet and pays out just under four times your stake. Try-scorers are a tad trickier by virtue of the fact there are so many tempting options, but we reckon Fofana at 11/1 is a great option. The Paddy Power odds are pretty generous for most of the likely suspects, though, as are the anytime scorer prices, so you've got a good choice if you don't agree with us. Overall, we think Clermont have just a little too much for Sarries just now. It will be very tight with two packs eager to carry ball and smash the other, but our shout is Clermont by 3!

Toulon v Munster: As ever when Munster play away from home, their incredible following have vowed to take over the venue their heroes will grace, so expect an amazing atmosphere as two of the most passionate, vocal and partisan sets of supporters meet in Marseille.

In truth, it will take a Herculean effort on and off the pitch for Paul O'Connell and co to triumph here. Toulon quite literally swatted aside Leinster in the quarter-final with their power game and breakdown dominance and the defending champions are expected to dispatch the Munstermen on Sunday in similar fashion. No-one has really worked out how to deal with Steffon Armitage, or indeed remove his sizeable frame from a ruck.

If there's any team to upset the odds – especially in Europe – however, it's Munster. Rising to the occasion seems to be in the DNA down in Limerick. We do agree with Toulon's favourites tag, though, and we'd suggest backing a 6-10 point winning margin at 7/2. In terms of try-scorers Paddy Power will refund your stake in this market if Munster win, so if you're feeling bold, you may wish to back a couple. We'd advise you back Delon Armitage at 14/1 to dot down first, as he is so often the beneficiary of the fine work that goes on in midfield from Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau. So, it's a Toulon win for us, and we think they'll do it by about nine points.

Challenge Cup

Northampton Saints v Harlequins: This is an interesting one. Conor O'Shea's men are hitting form just when it matters, and are still in the hunt for a Premiership playoff berth while Saints bounced back from a blip this month to remain well on course for second spot. We think this one could finish with a lot of points on the scoreboard, and we'd advise you back 33-46 total points inclusive at 13/10 for a start. Saints are favourites for a reason, and at Franklin's Gardens, you expect them to perform – we think a winning margin of 11-15 points is pretty adventurous but worth a few bob at 15/2. It's tough to look past Mike Brown (12/1) in the try-scorer markets after the full-back's sublime season, but we're doing so this time, backing Jamie Elliot to score first at 10/1. Saints should do the business and secure a berth in the final on Friday, winning by about eight points.


Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh: This rearranged festive derby clash has been patiently waiting its turn on the fixture list for nearly five months, and it arrives with Scotland's two pro-teams in contrasting form. Edinburgh blew their shot at the Champions Cup place they should have secured, and their season is now petering out. Glasgow must win this game – and with a bonus point – to move into second place and take pole position in the race for a home semi-final Scottish rugby badly needs. The Warriors are flying after beating Ulster and Munster in the past two weeks, while Edinburgh have slipped to defeat at both Italian sides though won at the Dragons. A winning margin of 16-20 is a good bet at 6/1, and with Glasgow's superior backline, sticking some cash on Tommy Seymour to score first at 15/2 is an equally tempting option. Derbies can be curious beasts, but we don't see any reason to doubt the anticipated outcome of this one. Glasgow by 18.

Super Rugby

Hurricanes v Reds: This fixture has “excitement” stamped all over it. Two scintillating backlines mastered by two of the world's best fly-halves. Tries should flow thick and fast. The 'Canes are on a three-game hot streak, while the Reds have endured a recent run of poor form and are desperate to get back into the playoff mix. The hosts' attacking options are