Predictions: Leinster to win titanic European contest

Date published: January 11 2019

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

We have taken a more in-depth look at two of the games which will be crucial to qualification from the respective pools, with Leinster v Toulouse and Ulster v Racing 92.

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

CHAMPIONS CUP

Leinster v Toulouse

The game of the competition so far takes place at the RDS Arena on Saturday as the two most successful sides in the tournament go head-to-head.

Leinster and Toulouse have won four titles apiece and, alongside Saracens and Racing 92, have been the best teams in the 2018/19 version of the Champions Cup. It should be a thrilling game, particularly since Les Rouge et Noir stunned the defending champions 28-27 in Round Two at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Ugo Mola’s men have continued to improve since then and are unbeaten since September but it will be a tough ask to repeat those heroics from mid-October. The Irish province will be out for revenge and should ultimately have too much quality for the visitors, who are still developing under the guidance of Mola. Leinster by 10.

Ulster v Racing 92

Another crucial game takes place this weekend when Ulster host Racing 92 in Belfast looking to move closer to qualification. The French outfit currently reside at the top of Pool 4 with Saturday’s opponents five points behind them, but the Northern Irish side will attempt to put pressure on the visitors going into the final encounter.

A victory for Dan McFarland’s men would give them an excellent shot of qualification, at the very least as one of the best runners-up. Racing appear to have top spot sewn up, however, and even if they were to lose at the Kingspan Stadium, the Parisians should still be at the summit heading into the final round.

This is ultimately a tough game to call. The Frenchmen are playing some superb rugby and have outstanding individual talent but, considering their excellent position in the group, they could relax and open the door for an improving Ulster.

McFarland’s charges have been inconsistent this season but have often saved their best for the Champions Cup. That was demonstrated by their excellent back-to-back victory over the Scarlets and the head coach will hope that they can produce once again in front of their supporters, but the visitors will deservedly be favourites. Racing by 4.

Other Champions Cup games:

Gloucester v Munster: Munster by 9
Montpellier v Newcastle Falcons: Montpellier by 20
Bath v Wasps: Bath by 7
Scarlets v Leicester Tigers: Scarlets by 4
Toulon v Edinburgh: Toulon by 2
Exeter Chiefs v Castres: Exeter by 8
Lyon v Saracens: Saracens by 11
Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues: Glasgow by 18

CHALLENGE CUP

Dragons v Timisoara Saracens: Dragons by 20
Perpignan v Bordeaux-Begles: Perpignan by 5
La Rochelle v Zebre: La Rochelle by 17
Stade Francais v Pau: Stade by 10
Enisei-STM v Bristol: Bristol by 18
Benetton v Agen: Benetton by 8
Harlequins v Grenoble: Harlequins by 15
Connacht v Sale Sharks: Sale by 7
Ospreys v Worcester: Ospreys by 4
Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints: Clermont by 22