It was a disappointing start in Round 1, with 6 correct predictions out of 10 just shy of the community average of 6.25 – and that included picking a couple of upsets in a difficult round to predict.
Gloucester and Bath both losing at home was not a good start, and then Exeter were better than expected in La Rochelle, whilst I broke a golden rule of picking a French team to win away from home, which of course Montpellier failed to do.
Here are my predictions for Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup this weekend:
Ulster v Clermont
Clermont will be tough to beat this season, based on last week’s showing at home to Harlequins, but having just mentioned the golden rule, I’m picking Ulster to win at home. Ulster by 2
Benetton Treviso v Northampton
This Italian team can be difficult to beat at the home stadium, but I suspect they aren’t too concerned about challenging in this tournament and will focus on the Pro14. The Saints are going well this season, and on paper, they are the better side. Northampton by 7
Saracens v Ospreys
I’ll await the Saracens team news for this one, since it looks as though their main focus will be clawing back their Premiership points deduction, and after a heavy defeat to Racing last weekend, will struggle to qualify from the group. That said, the Ospreys are not up to much and even Saracens’ star-studded second-string should win this one. Saracens by 9
Toulouse v Connacht
This French side did actually manage an away win last weekend – although they were gifted it in part by Gloucester’s malfunctioning lineout – and they should win this comfortably. Toulouse by 18
Lyon v Leinster
Despite leading the Top 14, Lyon came undone at Franklin’s Gardens last weekend, which might have dampened their enthusiasm for this tournament. It’s a tough trip for Leinster, but a visit to Lyon isn’t quite as daunting as Clermont, Toulouse or Toulon, and I’m backing the Irish. Leinster by 6
Exeter v Glasgow
The Chiefs laid down a major marker last weekend with an impressive win over La Rochelle, and are now clear favourites to win this group. There’s a long way to go of course, but a win at home to Glasgow will be another major step, and given that Glasgow have lost their coach to the Wallabies this week, the home team is the clear favourite. Exeter by 16
Munster v Racing
These two teams have met several times in Europe over the last few years, with the home team winning all but one (a Munster victory in Paris in 2017). Racing have never won at Thomond Park, and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. Munster by 4
Harlequins v Bath
These two Premiership sides share a group with Clermont and Ulster, and after losing their opening fixtures, qualification looks a tall order. Neither side has been particularly impressive so far, but you’d think Quins at home would be favourites. Harlequins by 2
Sale v La Rochelle
After losing at home last weekend, albeit to an excellent Exeter outfit, French motivation is unlikely to be too high for this trip to Salford and a win here would keep Sale in the hunt. Sale by 4
Montpellier v Gloucester
That home defeat from a winning position against Toulouse last week has probably done for Gloucester’s chances in Europe already, given the quality alongside them in this pool. This should be a win for Montpellier. Montpellier by 13
Which ones do you disagree with?