Predictions: Champions Cup and Challenge Cup

Date published: December 8 2018

Round Three of the Champions Cup throws up some mouth-watering fixtures on Saturday and Sunday and we are putting our head on the block to pick our winners.

We have looked at the same group as there are two intriguing contests which could prove crucial as to who qualifies from Pool 1. Bath and Leinster go head-to-head at the Rec before Wasps host Toulouse in Coventry.

Victory for the visiting teams would put give them an excellent chance of both making it through to the quarter-finals, but can the home sides keep themselves in contention?

The Challenge Cup also takes place and we have predicted the outcome of the contests from Europe’s second-tier competition.

CHAMPIONS CUP

Bath v Leinster

On form, this seems an easy one to decipher. Bath have simply been woeful this season, while Leinster have once again been excellent, topping Conference B in the PRO14 and also arguably producing the performance of the Champions Cup so far by thrashing Wasps.

The Irish province did suffer a setback, however, by going down to Toulouse at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, leaving them second in group and potentially opening the door for the West Countrymen to pounce.

Todd Blackadder’s men also contain a wealth of talent in the squad and should be performing much better than they have done. They should therefore keep it reasonably close for most of the match but, because f the visitors’ experience and the return of their Ireland international after a two-week rest, Leo Cullen’s charges should pull away in the latter stages. Leinster by 12.

Wasps v Toulouse

Like the previous Pool 1 encounter, these two are both former winners of the competition, but neither have tested success in Europe for a while. Toulouse have shown some good form in 2018, though, and will fancy their chances of overcoming a forlorn Wasps.

Although the English outfit have not been awful in the Premiership and reside in fourth position, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the club. There are stories of financial issues and rumours circulating that key players are going to depart as a result of their problems.

That could affect them here but, equally, it may also galvanise Dai Young’s men who, despite several injuries, can still field a strong XV. Les Rouge et Noir, however, are in excellent form having secured two victories in Europe so far and should be too strong for the hosts. Toulouse by 6.

Other Champions Cup games:

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester: Exeter by 10
Lyon v Glasgow Warriors: Glasgow by 4
Toulon v Montpellier: Toulon by 6
Munster v Castres:Munster by 7
Saracens v Cardiff Blues:Saracens by 20
Racing 92 v Leicester Tigers:Racing by 23

CHALLENGE CUP

Enisei-STM v Zebre: Zebre by 10
Timisoara Saracens v Clermont Auvergne: Clermont by 40
Benetton v Harlequins: Harlequins by 15
Bristol v La Rochelle: La Rochelle by 7
Connacht v Perpignan: Connacht by 16
Northampton Saints v Dragons: Northampton by 12
Ospreys v Stade Francais: Ospreys by 8
Bordeaux-Begles v Sale Sharks: Sale by 9