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Champions Cup

European Champions Cup Round 5 Predictions

We give our predictions on this weeks Champions Cup fixtures.

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We’ve put together our predictions for scores and possible bonus points for Round 5 of the Champions Cup. We got 90% of results correct in Round 4. Can we go one better?

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Gloucester v Munster

It’s all to play for technically in Pool 2. The tightest group on paper. Munster top the pool on 12 points, Gloucester are on the bottom with 8 points so it’s all to play for. Gloucester are boosted by the return of Danny Cipriani following a lay-off but Munster have Chris Farrell back from injury along with all their Ireland Internationals named in a strong lineup and we expect them to take the victory.

Prediction – Munster Win (+12)

RESULT – Gloucester 15 – Munster 41 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Montpellier v Newcastle

Montpellier will be looking for revenge after their loss to Newcastle in the earlier round of the competition. Newcastle have struggled in the Premiership this season and sit bottom of the domestic competition but have been strong in Europe and could technically still qualify for the next round. We do however expect Montpellier to come out on top.

Prediction -Montpellier (+20) Bonus Point Win

RESULT – Montpellier 45 – Newcastle 8 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Leinster v Toulouse

If this game is half as good as their first encounter this season, we’re in for a treat. Two teams that have been in scintillating form this season come head to head in Dublin. Toulouse pipped Leinster in France but we expect Leinster to take the spoils this weekend. Sexton will be a huge loss for Leinster but there is enough quality in the squad to see them take what we think will be a narrow victory.

Prediction – Leinster Win (+7)

RESULT – Leinster 29 – Toulouse 13 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Bath v Wasps

Both teams have little hope of progressing past the pool stages in this years competition but this dead rubber game could hopefully provide a platform for fringe players to gain some valuable European experience.

Prediction – Bath (+6) Both Team Try Bonus Points

RESULT – Bath 18- Wasps 16 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Ulster v Racing 92

On paper, this is a no brainer. Racing 92 should be firm favourites but 2 big factors come into play in this fixture. Ulster are typically very strong in Europe at home and the French don’t seem to like Belfast. Racing are in the driving seat to top the group and will remain that way even if they lose in Belfast however, Ulster’s chances of progressing further than the pools means a win is essential.

Prediction – Ulster Win (+9)

RESULT – Ulster 26 – Racing 22 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Scarlets v Leicester Tigers

Another dead rubber game with both teams effectively out. Scarlets have injury issues everywhere. Welsh Hooker Ken Owens lines up at No.8 again after making the switch last week to assist with the Scarlet’s injury crisis. Leicester Tigers have experienced a reassurance of late and we expect them to get the win.

Prediction – Leicester Tigers Win (+9) Both teams, try bonus points

RESULT – Scarlets 33 – Leicester 10 – 

Prediction – Wrong 

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Toulon v Edinburgh

Toulon are out, Edinburgh are in the mix. Toulon have had a torrid season and the Stade Mayol is not the fortress it once was. They will probably still go into the game as the bookies favourite but we expect Edinburgh to nick a win.

Prediction – Edinburgh Win (+8)

RESULT – Toulon 17 – Edinburgh 28 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Exeter Chiefs v Castres

Exeter have named a strong lineup for the clash at Sandy Park and we can’t see anything but a home win this weekend.

Prediction – Exeter Win (+18) Try Bonus

RESULT – Exeter 34 – Castres 12 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Lyon v Saracens

Lyon are out. They sit bottom of the pool while Saracens will look to bounce back from their defeat against Sale last week to continue their unbeaten run in Europe. We expect this to go one way, Saracens.

Prediction – Saracens Win (+15) Try Bonus

RESULT – Lyon 10 – Saracens 28 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Glasgow v Cardiff

Glasgow suffered a shock domestic loss last week to Benetton but their European hopes are still very much alive but a win is essential to keep their hopes alive and keep the pressure on Saracens. Glasgow to win comfortably.

Prediction – Glasgow Win (+13) Try Bonus

RESULT – Glasgow 33 – Cardiff 24  – 

Prediction – Correct

This weeks prediction score – 9/10 (90%)

No bang on score predictions this week but stuck the neck out with bold calls on Edinburgh & Ulster victories over big French opposition.

90% for consecutive rounds for our Champions Cup score predictions. Check back next week to see if we can go one better!

Champions Cup

Saracens Handed Another Huge Set-Back

Saracens have had a tough few days and things have got worse yet again as one of their star youngsters has been ruled out for the remainder of the season

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Saracens’ terrible week has just gone from bad to worse with the confirmation that prop Ralph Adams-Hale has been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury.

The 22-year-old picked up an ankle injury on Saturday during Sarries first win over Gloucester at Kingsholm in four years and was stretchered off the pitch. 

It was confirmed that he underwent surgery on Sunday and will go under the knife once more in the coming days to fix the injury, which will now leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season. 

Adams-Hale had started the season brightly with two starts and two sub appearances in the team’s first four games to follow on from his Premiership final appearance last season, but this is a cruel blow for him individually as he joins star full-back Liam Williams on the injury list.

Meanwhile, it is yet another set-back for the club as a whole, who were hit with a £5.3 million fine as well as a 35-point deduction following breach of salary cap regulations. They are fighting the decision, but if they fail in their appeal they will sink to the bottom of the Premiership table. 

Currently on 13 points they would drop to -22, a whopping 26-points off current basement side Leicester who have only picked up four points from their first four games. 

Head coach Mark McCall has confirmed that if it comes to it Saracens will sacrifice their Champions Cup crown to focus on avoiding relegation from the English top tier. 

“We have got a plan for the worst-case scenario which will affect our strategy around the Champions Cup. Our job at the moment if the points deduction remains and the appeal is not successful is to try to stay up and that is what we will try and do,” he said last week. 

Meanwhile, as well as those blows the reigning English and European champions could face punishment from the European body following their absence from last week’s Champions Cup launch day, with another fine most likely on the way. 

Saracens will hope things will get better soon with the return of some key international stars, and will look to kick-start their European campaign on a high when they take on French giants Racing 92 this weekend.

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6 Nations

Munster Star in Six Nations Fitness Race

Munster have confirmed that one of their key men is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines which could put his Six Nations spot in doubt

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Munster fly-half Joey Carbery is set for yet another spell in the sidelines according to head coach Johann van Graan due to injury.

Van Graan confirmed that Carbery is still suffering from an ankle injury which he sustained during Ireland’s Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Italy and is not able to put a return date for his comeback  due to the nature of the injury. 

“He is going to be out for some time. We got to make sure he gets his strength back and we get that ankle fully functional. From Joey’s point of view, obviously, he wants to play but his body is not right. Because of the type of injury he is definitely not going to be back in the next few weeks, I can tell you that,” he said on Carbery. 

The out-half was selected ahead of Leinster’s Ross Byrne in Ireland’s World Cup squad despite carrying the injury. However, it was reiterated throughout the tournament that he had fully recovered, which now appears to be untrue. 

His head coach also told reporters that the 23-year-old will not undergo surgery on the injury. When asked about the possibility of Carbery playing before Christmas van Graan admitted he is hopeful but he cannot be sure right now. 

“I hope so. At this stage it is very difficult for the medical team to determine that. Because he has had it for quite a while the most important thing now is Joey’s health. He is a Munster player. He is under my watch now so we have got to look after him. He is very important for the national team, I believe, for the future of Irish rugby,” he added. 

It is a massive blow for the Munster player who only moved from Leinster ahead of last season, and after starting brightly in the red jersey he picked up a hamstring injury that left him out for large portions of the season. 

The fear for Carbery now however is that due to the nature of the injury and the inability to place a return date, he could face a race to be fit for Ireland’s Six Nations campaign at the start of February next year. Carbery will hopefully be back in action and back to match fitness by then as he will want the chance to impress new head coach Andy Farrell during his first tournament at the helm.

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Champions Cup

Another Connacht Ace Signs Contract Extension

Connacht have confirmed that a fourth player in two days has signed an extension with the province

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Connacht have announced that captain Jarrad Butler has put pen to paper on a contract extension with the western province.

The 28-year-old, who joined them in 2017, going on to play more minutes than any other player in the PRO14 since then, has decided to commit to the men in green until the summer of 2022 meaning he will be with Connacht for a minimum of five years. 

Butler is excited to continue on with the club and is looking forward to the future with Connacht. 

“I am delighted to commit my future to Connacht for a further two seasons. We have some real leaders within our squad, and I was hugely honoured to take over the role of captain last season. There is a real sense of ambition within the player group which extends right throughout the staff and supporters of the province. I am really looking forward to the seasons ahead in a Connacht jersey,” he said. 

Butler won Connacht’s Player of the Year award after making an instant impact following his arrival and after showing his influence was given the club captaincy. 

Meanwhile, head coach Andy Friend is also delighted to have the player stay on and believes his signing shows how ambitious the club are heading into the future. 

“Jarrad has proven himself to be a hugely consistent and versatile player. That consistency along with his unrelenting work rate are what make him an outstanding leader. His contract extension is significant as we aim to deliver success to the province,” he said. 

His signing is another thing for fans to cheer about as they discovered yesterday that star trio of Tiernan O’Halloran, Sean O’Brien and Tom Farrell have all signed on until the summer of 2022 much like Butler. 

As well as the extensions supporters have seen their province have a bright start to the season as they currently sit second in Conference B of the PRO14 on 19-points after five games only a point behind table toppers Munster

They will hope to continue their impressive start when they host reigning champions Leinster in their first inter-provincial derby of the season on Friday as some of their international stars are also set to return to the line-up following their time off after the Rugby World Cup with Ireland.

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