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European Champions Cup Predictions – Round 2

It’s a blockbuster in Cape Town as the Stormers roll out the red carpet for defending champions La Rochelle in the second round of the European Champions Cup on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


It’s a blockbuster in Cape Town as the Stormers roll out the red carpet for defending champions La Rochelle in the second round of the European Champions Cup on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have made their way to France to face Lyon as part of a stacked weekend of European top-flight action.

Northampton Saints v Toulon

Friday, 15 December – 22:00

These teams were on opposite sides of the ledger last weekend. The Saints soared away from home, beating Glasgow 28-19, while Toulon were edged 19-18 by Exeter in their backyard.

Northampton really impressed and with the Chiefs providing the blueprint on how to topple Toulon, I’ll be siding with the hosts.

Prediction: Northampton Saints by 3.

Suggested Bet: Toulon +5.5 at 1.83.

Bayonne v Glasgow Warriors

Friday, 15 December – 22:00

Bayonne showed their grit to fight back from 14-3 down to force a 17-all draw away to Munster last weekend in as good a result as they could’ve hoped for.

t was the direct opposite for the Warriors, who underwhelmed in their above-mentioned defeat at home. The Warriors have the talent to bounce back, but with Bayonne having home ground advantage, I’m backing them. 

Prediction: Bayonne by 4.

Suggested Bet: Bayonne -3.5 at 1.85.

Saracens v Connacht

Saturday, 16 December – 15:00

Ill-discipline due to the high tempo of the Bulls proved to be Saracens’ undoing in Pretoria. You can’t concede two yellow cards and a red and expect to win, but Owen Farrell and company showed character to keep the scoreline down and deny the Bulls a full house.

Back at home, they’ll be much more clinical, which should see them dictate the pace this time around and compound Connacht’s woes.

Prediction: Saracens by 15.

Suggested Bet: Connacht +16.5 at 1.82

Stormers v La Rochelle

Saturday, 16 December – 15:00

The Stormers will be buoyed by the spirited performance their second stringers produced to push Leicester to the limit while La Rochelle will be hurting after their 16-9 home loss to Leinster.

With their ‘A’ team rested, the Stormers will fancy themselves against the French giants but will know they’ll have to be at their best to beat the reigning kings of the north.

It’s imperative that playmakers Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse drive the hosts, while the likes of Deon Fourie and Evan Roos need to bring fire and brimstone in the pack.

For the visitors, they need a bit more attacking spark after failing to breach Leinster’s line and have to work on their lineout after they misfired in the set piece.

It’ll be a big ask of the Stormers’ pack to match the visitors, but with parity up front, the Capetonians should pip it.

Prediction: Stormers by 2.

Suggested Bet: La Rochelle +4.5 at 1.82.

Bordeaux-Begles v Bristol Bears

Saturday, 16 December – 17:15

Bordeaux laid down a serious marker with their commanding 41-5 win at Connacht whereas Bristol eked out a 36-34 win over Lyon on home soil.

Bordeaux have more weapons in their arsenal, including try-scoring machine Damian Penaud, are connected on defence and are strong in the set pieces, all of which point to a victory for them.

Prediction: Bordeaux-Begles by 10.

Suggested Bet: Bristol Bears +17.5 at 1.86.

Leinster v Sale Sharks

Saturday, 16 December – 19:30

Leinster fired the biggest shot of the opening round as they exacted revenge against La Rochelle for the heartbreak of the defeats the French side condemned them to in the last two finals.  

The Irish powerhouse were at their best, playing with vintage cohesion and non-step energy to clinch a 16-9 win that put everyone on notice. Sale eased past Stade Francais (28-5) but Leinster are a different kettle of fish and will make it two from two.

Prediction: Leinster by 22.

Suggested Bet: Sale Sharks +24.5 at 1.86.

Lyon v Bulls

Saturday, 16 December – 19:30

The Bulls made a strong opening statement with their 27-16 win over Saracens. They did drop off in the final quarter and were unable to get the four-try bonus point, but the men from Pretoria nonetheless showed they mean business.

A very different Bulls side are expected to run out on Saturday and their challenge will be fierce. Lyon almost beat Bristol away last weekend, succumbing by two points, and will be bullish to get over the line at home.

Last year’s trip was a nightmare for the Bulls as they endured a 31-7 hiding but they’ll be better for it this time around. Without their heavy hitters, though, an upset isn’t on the cards, but they’ll give a better account of themselves.

Prediction: Lyon by 10.

Suggested Bet: Lyon -5.5 at 1.81.

Ulster v Racing 92

Saturday, 16 December – 22:00

Sides smarting after opening-round defeats do battle in Belfast. Ulster went down 37-14 at Bath while Racing were stunned 31-28 by Harlequins at home.

Ulster will roll up their sleeves and make it a dog fight on their dirt track. That pragmatism and power, coupled with Racing’s leaky defence and poor travel record, should see Ulster open their account.

Prediction: Ulster by 7.

Suggested Bet: Ulster -1.5 at 1.98.

Cardiff v Bath

Saturday, 16 December – 22:00

Cardiff were always going to struggle in the top flight and their 52-7 trouncing by Toulouse underscored this. Home comforts will only help so much and won’t be enough for them stave off a Bath side coming off a 23-point pummelling of Ulster.

Prediction: Bath by 14.

Suggested Bet: Bath -8.5 at 1.86.

Exeter Chiefs v Munster

Sunday, 17 December – 15:00

While Exeter were excellent in their 19-18 away win over Toulon, Munster let victory slip and had to be satisfied with a 17-all draw with Bayonne. The home team have never lost in this short rivalry and the Chiefs’ heroics last weekend suggest they’ll prevail.

Prediction: Exeter Chiefs by 6.

Suggested Bet: Exeter Chiefs -2.5 at 1.81.

Harlequins v Toulouse

Sunday, 17 December – 17:15

Harlequins will be on a major high after their 31-28 triumph at Racing and they have an even bigger French fish in their sights this weekend. After coasting to the biggest win of Round One, Toulouse make the trek full of confidence. This is one where, if at full strength, the visitors have the class to clinch victory.

Prediction: Toulouse by 3.

Suggested Bet: Toulouse -2.5 at 1.86.

Stade Francais v Leicester Tigers

Sunday, 17 December – 19:30

After almost being tripped up by a second-string Stormers side, I simply cannot see the Tigers turning up and leaving Paris with a win. Yes, Stade Francais lost handily to Sale, but back to being fully loaded and with home support, the French side should be good for a result.

Prediction: Stade Francais by 7.

Suggested Bet: Leicester Tigers +8.5 at 1.86.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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