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Can Exeter revive their Champions Cup campaign? Get our 3 best bets for the games in the European Champions Cup

Ben Darvill 9 Jan 2019
Henry Slade of Exeter Chiefs. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Can Exeter set up a crunch match with Munster in their final game, and can Toulouse maintain their perfect start to their European campaign? Read on for our 3 best bets for the European Champions Cup games this weekend. 

 

Gloucester vs Munster (Friday, 19:45 GMT)


It has not been a good enough season for Gloucester in Europe, with the English side struggling in what is a very competitive group. Two victories have come against Castres at home and Exeter away, while they were beaten by Exeter at home, and they were hammered 36-22 by Munster on their travels to Ireland, and they will be wary of taking another loss as it would all but end their European campaign. Their trading of blows with Exeter, which saw the away side win on each occasion, was not at all ideal for the outfiit, as if they had been able to claim victory in their home leg, Gloucester would be right in the mix for a top spot in the group, rather than sitting at the bottom on points difference. 

Munster arrive currently sitting at the top of Pool 2 with 12 points from four games, with two wins, a draw and a defeat giving the side all of the aces going into the final two games of the group stage. Interestingly, Munster’s last game ended in a 13-12 loss to Castres, which has opened the group up far more than the Irish side would have wanted. While their last away game was a defeat, when they hosted Gloucester they took all the points in a convincing win to further stamp their authority on the group. Gloucester may be the choice for many in this one as they are at home, but they are winless in their last two Premiership games, with their last home game ending in a 15-30 loss to struggling Newcastle, while Munster have won their last two, including an impressive 26-17 win over Leinster. With this in mind, we are recommending backing the away side with a five point handicap. 




Leinster vs Toulouse (Saturday, 13:00 GMT)


Leinster have been in good form this season, winning three of their four games with a single loss blighting their record so far. Their last match ended in a massive 42-15 victory over Bath at the Aviva Stadium as their performance displayed exactly why they are the reigning-European champions. However, they do now face the only side that have beaten them in Europe this season, with Toulouse sneaking to a 28-27 win at the Stade Ernest Wallon in an enthralling match. The 15 points they have picked up means they are already 10 points ahead of third-placed Bath with only two games to go, and their attention will very much be on ousting their next opponents, who currently sit in top spot. 

It has been a near-perfect season for Toulouse, although they have been fortunate along the way. Freddie Burns was left red-faced in Toulouse’s win over Bath as he was dispossessed after going over the try line, with his premature celebrations ending in misery as the ball was knocked from his hand as Bath fell to a defeat, while a breakaway try that spanned the length of the pitch allowed Maxime Medard to score his second of the day as they claimed an exhilarating 28-27 win over Leinster. A victory for Toulouse, their fifth in five games, would see the French side open up a massive six point lead if they can beat the Irish side and ensure they do not pick up any bonus points, either losing or for tries scored. However, we do not think that this is one that the French side will win, as going to face Leinster in Ireland is a huge challenge. Instead, we recommend utilising the handicap market in this one as Betway are offering Toulouse +12 at 10/11. While Leinster come into this one on the back of a big win over Bath, Toulouse have been miserly at the back, and we cannot see them getting beaten heavily, with the French side looking to do the double over the reigning-European champions. 




Exeter Chiefs vs Castres Olympique (Sunday, 13:00 GMT)


Like fellow Pool 2 struggles Gloucester, Exeter have been poor this year, but they do still have a chance of making it to the knock-out stages of the competition if they can start to win their games. A single win has come along with a draw and two defeats, while the English side have also clinched two bonus points in this time, which has kept their hopes of progression alive. Their season had started fairly well as they avoided defeat against Munster in a 10-10 draw, but they were then beaten by Castres and Gloucester, before they then went to Kingsholm and beat the latter, thus reviving their campaign. Their home match against Castres is absolutely huge then, with a win on Sunday giving the English side the confidence going into what would likely be a crunch match against Munster in Ireland in the last game of the group-stages. 

Castres are also holding onto hopes of making it to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, but they will need to beat Exeter and hope the English side can do them a favour and beat Munster in their last match. The French side have won two of their four games this term, but things could have been so much better for the side if they had been able to pick up more try scoring and losing bonus points, with the one bonus point they have picked up seeing them onto nine points, three short of Munster at the top. What has really put Castres back in the running was their 13-12 win over Munster in their last game, something that helped to banish the memory of their 30-5 away stuffing at the hands of the Irish side, who really dominated that encounter. Despite the fact that the French side still have aspirations of winning this one, we do not think they will be able to defeat the Chiefs on their own patch, with the outfit desperate for only their second win of the campaign. The bookies clearly agree with this as Exeter are massive odds-on favourites for victory. Therefore, we think backing Castres in the handicap market with +14 points is the way to go here as this will likely be a close game. The French side may have a -25 points difference, but they have invariably been involved in close games, with only their 30-5 loss to Munster hitting their points difference hard, with just that game seeing the two teams separated by more than five points. Exeter meanwhile have a points difference of exactly zero, with 83 points scored and conceded showing they too are inclined to a close game. The return fixture of this game saw the French side emerge as winners by four points, while Exeter lost to Gloucester by eight points before then beating the same opponents by 12. With a 14 point handicap, we believe that Castres will help this bet to pay out even if they lose. 




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Can Exeter revive their Champions Cup campaign? Get our 3 best bets for the games in the European Champions Cup

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