We’ve reached the final round of pool matches in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, and it’s do or die for some teams.
Here are my predictions for this weekend’s matches.
Lyon v Northampton
This is a tough test for the Saints, who must win in France in order to qualify for the knockout stages. Leinster only won by 7 in Lyon before Christmas, but I suspect the home side won’t be nearly as motivated and I’m backing Northampton to go through. Northampton by 4
Treviso v Leinster
The Italians are tough to beat at home – they beat Lyon just before Christmas, and were unlucky to lose by 3 to the Saints in Round 2. But Leinster know what to expect, and they won by 5 points back in September in the PRO14, and they should win to ensure they qualify as top seeds. Leinster by 6
Ulster v Bath
Five European defeats in a row is a sorry state of affairs for Bath, and they’ll get a clean sweep here with Ulster seeking another win to ensure qualification. Ulster by 13
Harlequins v Clermont
Quins conceded over 50 points to Clermont in the opening round, and although they much prefer playing at the Stoop, you’d think Clermont will be too strong for them here. Clermont by 7
Sale v Glasgow
The Warriors have a slim chance of qualifying, and I think they might pinch a win here before they wait on results in other pools. Glasgow by 4
Exeter v La Rochelle
It was a huge 19-point win away at La Rochelle for Exeter in Round 1, and they ought to win the return fixture at Sandy Park. Exeter by 16
Munster v Ospreys
The Ospreys are so poor they couldn’t even beat an understrength Saracens side that was reduced to 14 men, at home. They’ve got no chance at Thomond Park. Munster by 23
Saracens v Racing 92
It’s a testament to the depth of the Saracens squad, ahem, that they are on the brink of qualification for the knockout stages, despite fielding mostly second-string sides so far. I fancy them to win this at Allianz Park and make it through. Saracens by 7
Toulouse v Gloucester
Gloucester’s European season came unstuck in Round 1, when their lousy lineout cost them the match at home to Toulouse, and now they need to win this one away and home that Northampton and Glasgow both lose. Toulouse by 16
Montpellier v Connacht
Both teams are already out, which makes this tough to call, and you have to go with the home team I think. Montpellier by 9
What do you think of these predictions?