05 December 2013

Heineken Cup Round 3 Predictions: Pools 1,2 & 3

Pool 1:

Castres V Ospreys

The Ospreys are winless in this pool, playing away from home and have no chance of making the quarter-finals. They are very much in the hunt for the play-off of the Pro 12, so their priorities lie there. On the other hand Castres are still in with a chance of qualification for the quarter-finals and are also in a strong position in the Top 14. They will always deliver a strong performance at home.

Win: Castres

Northampton V Leinster

This is one of the clashes of the weekend. Northampton have to win to retain any chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals after losing to Castres in Round 1. Leinster, despite being undefeated in the Pool, have yet to fire on all cylinders this season. But they have struggled to reproduce the high tempo try scoring performances of previous seasons. They will need to deliver one of those performances to beat Northampton at Franklins Gardens. This will be a tight game but home advantage will likely tip the result in Northampton’s favour.

Win: Northampton

 

Pool 2:

Cardiff V Glasgow

Both teams will know each other from the Pro 12 and both teams are tied on 5 points behind Exeter and Toulon who are each on 6 points. For either team, a defeat would eliminate any chance of making the quarter-finals. Cardiff should have advantage playing at home and their form in the Pro 12 has been poor. But they did shock Toulon at the Arms Park in Round 2. Glasgow have been consistent since the start of the season and are pushing for the Pro 12 play-offs. Glasgow’s consistency will be key.

Win: Glasgow

Exeter V Toulon

As the European Champions, Toulon will start as favourites, but this game could lead to the upset of the weekend. Exeter are tied at the top of the Pool with Toulon. Sandy Park is a sell out and will be a very intimidating venue for the French. But a loss for Toulon would all but unhinge their Heineken Cup ambitions. In front of a raucous home crowd Exeter will certainly take the game to Toulon but Toulon have to deliver.

Win: Toulon

 

Pool 3:

Zebre V Saracens

Saracen’s home loss to Toulouse in Round 2 leaves them with no wriggle room in this pool. They will target a bonus point win to get their Heineken Cup back on track. Zebre have struggled in the Pro 12 and have shipped over thirty points in Rounds 1 and 2 of the Heineken against Toulouse and Connacht. This will be another tough day at the office for Zebre.

Win: Saracens

Toulouse V Connacht

Toulouse are flying high at 2nd place in the Top 14 and have set out their ambitions in the Heineken by beating Saracens at Wembley in Round 2. With two wins they are completely in control of Pool 3 and back-to-back wins over Connacht will put them on track to secure a home quarter-final. Toulouse at home will target a bonus point win at home. Connacht might deny Toulouse the bonus point, but unlikely any more than that.

Win: Toulouse