What a weekend we have in store in the Heineken Cup! It’s the first time that the top two teams in each pool have gone head-to-head on back-to-back weekends, and that makes for some incredible fixtures.
It also makes predictions very difficult. The largest winning margin I’ve predicted is 13, which perhaps represents the increasing competitiveness of the competition. There are so many brilliant ties that I’m not sure where to start.
Cardiff v Edinburgh and Quins v Toulouse should get the weekend off to a flyer tonight and I’m backing the home sides to edge those ties. If Quins can continue their red-hot form to the French giants, it will be a remarkable achievement – I think the cold weather and home crowd will help them do so.
Castres v Saints is another tough one, and I’ve gone with Northampton to win against a French side that’s very tough to beat at home. Fingers crossed.
Scarlets v Munster is probably the tie of the round for me, and I’ve picked the Irish side to lose again. Ronan O’Gara has got them out of a hole twice now in Europe, scuppering one of my predictions at the same time, but I think if the Welsh can reproduce the form they showed at Franklins Gardens, they will come away with a win. Losing bonus point for Munster though? Naturally.
I’ve gone for home wins for Racing Metro (much to Ben’s dismay, no doubt), Saracens (at Wembley), Glasgow and Clermont, but I fancy Leinster to win well at The Rec, where Bath have been underperforming in recent weeks.
Here are my Heineken Cup predictions for Round 3 – let me know what you think.
Ulster v Aironi Rugby: Ulster by 13
Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh: Cardiff Blues by 5
Harlequins v Toulouse: Harlequins by 4
Connacht Rugby v Gloucester Rugby: Gloucester Rugby by 6
Benetton Treviso v Biarritz: Biarritz by 8
Castres Olympique v Northampton Saints: Northampton Saints by 5
Scarlets v Munster: Scarlets by 6
Racing Metro 92 v London Irish: Racing Metro 92 by 5
Saracens v Ospreys: Saracens by 8
Bath v Leinster: Leinster by 9
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier: Glasgow Warriors by 5
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers: ASM Clermont Auvergne by 5