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European Champions Cup

European Champions Cup Predictions – Round 3

The European Champions Cup bursts back to life with the Bulls and Stormers taking on English opponents on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


The European Champions Cup bursts back to life with the Bulls and Stormers taking on English opponents on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The men from Pretoria have made their way across the pond for a date with the Bristol Bears while the Capetonians will want to make the most of their home ground advantage against the Sale Sharks.

Northampton Saints v Bayonne

Friday, 12 January – 22:00

Debutants Bayonne announced themselves by holding Munster to a 17-all draw before suffering a 12-11 loss to the Glasgow Warriors. It was a painful loss but one they would’ve taken heart from, and they’ll be keen to remain competitive.

The Northampton Saints, though, are on a serious role. On a seven-match winning streak in all competitions, they top both Pool 3 and the Premiership, and they’ll keep the good times going to kick-off Round Three.

Prediction: Northampton Saints by 15.

Suggested Bet: Bayonne +18.5 at 1.80.

Lyon v Connacht

Saturday, 13 January – 15:00

After having victory snatched from them by the Bristol Bears in the opening round, Lyon did something similar to the Bulls, pipping the Pretoria side 29-28 to bounce back.

Connacht have been unable to transfer their solid results in the United Rugby Championship into Champions Cup success, suffering two heavy defeats to Bordeaux-Begles (41-5) and Saracens (55-36). Based on that, back the French outfit to win at home.

Prediction: Lyon by 5.

Suggested Bet: Connacht +9.5 at 1.83.

Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors

Saturday, 13 January – 15:00

The Exeter Chiefs have been in great nick. They pushed high-flying Premiership leaders Northampton close at the weekend, losing 42-36 and won four on the trot before that including both of their Champions Cup clashes against Toulon away (19-18) and Munster at home (32-24).

The Glasgow Warriors scraped past Bayonne to put their 28-19 first-round loss to the Saints behind them and are coming off a 19-14 loss to Edinburgh in the URC. With momentum and power on their side, the Chiefs should claim victory.

Prediction: Exeter Chiefs by 9.

Suggested Bet: Exeter Chiefs -7.5 at 1.84.

Toulon v Munster

Saturday, 13 January – 17:15

Despite their storied history in the Champions Cup, neither side have won a game in this season’s edition, which means whoever loses in France will be staring down the barrel of a shock early departure in Pool 3.

Toulon suffered comeback losses to both the Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints, while Munster suffered the same fate in Round Two against the Exeter Chiefs after the home draw with Bayonne.

The two sides have faced each other four times in the European top-flight and both have two home wins each, so it really is winner takes all on France’s south coast. In what’ll be a thriller, the home side should once again come out on top.

Prediction: Toulon by 5.

Suggested Bet: Munster +8.5 at 1.86.

Bristol Bears v Bulls

Saturday, 13 January – 17:15

The Bulls are third on points difference in Pool 1 with five following their 27-16 victory over Saracens at home and 29-28 loss at Lyon.

Meanwhile, the Bristol Bears picked up a crucial last-minute 36-34 home win over Lyon in one of the games of the tournament so far, only for a young line-up to be crushed 36-17 at Bordeaux-Begles, leaving them fifth also on five points due to points difference.

As a result, it’s a big chance for both teams to put one foot in the Round of 16 in their first-ever Champions Cup meeting.

The hosts have traded wins and losses in their last three Premiership games and are coming off a 22-14 away victory over the Sale Sharks. The visitors will be the fresher team having had a bit of a break after their 26-20 away loss to the Stormers in the URC two weeks ago and will fancy their chances considering Bristol are in lowly eighth place in the Premiership.

That said, the Bears are a formidable force at home and with the Bulls being without their Springboks, the hosts should be too strong.

Prediction: Bristol Bears by 7.

Suggested Bet: Bristol Bears -1.5 at 1.88.

Stormers v Sale Sharks

Saturday, 13 January – 19:30

Like the above, this is another fascinating first-ever encounter. After starting their campaign with a valiant 35-26 loss to the Tigers in Leicester, the Stormers edged titleholders La Rochelle 21-20 in Cape Town and sit fourth in Pool 4 on four points.

Sale are also on four having also won one (28-5 against Stade Francais) and lost one (37-27 to Leinster) and are one place above the Stormers on points difference. 

The Sharks, who have former Stormers Robert du Preez, Cobus Wiese and Ernst van Rhyn in their ranks, have struggled of late, suffering back-to-back losses in the Premiership, and the classy Stormers will be too strong for them to stretch their winning streak in all competitions to four and take a big step towards qualifying for the playoffs.

Prediction: Stormers by 10.

Suggested Bet: Sale Sharks +11.5 at 1.83.

Leinster v Stade Francais

Saturday, 13 January – 19:30

The top team in Pool 4 host the side in last place with Leinster having claimed back-to-back wins over titleholders La Rochelle and Sale and Stade Francais having suffered successive losses to the Sharks and Tigers. Both of those streaks will continue as Leo Cullen’s charges will cruise to victory.

Prediction: Leinster by 25.

Suggested Bet: Stade Francais +28.5 at 1.83.

Cardiff v Harlequins

Saturday, 13 January – 22:00

Winless in the Champions Cup and coming off a 27-21 loss to the Ospreys in the UFC, Cardiff are going through it and it’s hard to see them course-correcting.

Harlequins, who’ve split their first two Champions Cup games, have good domestic form, sitting second in the Premiership, and are a cut above their Welsh hosts, so they should leave with the W.  

Prediction: Harlequins by 7.

Suggested Bet: Cardiff +7.5 at 1.84.

Ulster v Toulouse

Saturday, 13 January – 22:00

The Kingspan Stadium roared Ulster to a big Round Two win over Racing 92, but the Irish province will need all their support and more to help them against Pool 2 table-toppers and early title contenders Toulouse.

A star-studded squad have led the French side to the highest points difference of any team so far (73) as they have racked up a maximum 10 points from their first two games and will fancy their chances of making it three from three against third-placed Ulster, having won their last two fixtures in Northern Ireland (29-22 in 2020 and 30-23 in 2022).

Ulster are coming off a huge 22-21 away win over Leinster in the URC and I get the feeling they’ll want it more, so I’m backing Steven Kitshoff and company to get it done. 

Prediction: Ulster by 1.

Suggested Bet: Ulster at 2.60.

Bath v Racing 92

Sunday, 14 January – 15:00

Bath have been playing good rugby this season. Two bonus-point wins see them sit second in Pool 2 behind Toulouse on points difference, while they’re third in the Premiership.

Racing 92 lead the way in the Top 14 but are winless in the Champions Cup. French teams are notoriously poor travellers and I question their motivation level for this fixture, so I’m banking on Bath.

Prediction: Bath by 10.

Suggested Bet: Bath -5.5 at 1.81.

La Rochelle v Leicester Tigers

Sunday, 14 January – 17:15

A desperate La Rochelle is the most dangerous La Rochelle and the defending champions sure are desperate after dropping both of their games so far. They started their campaign with a 16-9 defeat to Leinster in a repeat of the last two deciders before suffering a last-gasp 21-20 loss in Cape Town.

The Leicester Tigers, in turn, have won both of their matches, seeing off a tenacious second-string Stormers side and squeaking past Stade Francais to sit second in Pool 4. Facing a must-win scenario, the real La Rochelle will stand up and turn back the Tigers.

Prediction: La Rochelle by 12.

Suggested Bet: Leicester Tigers +16.5 at 1.85.

Bordeaux-Begles v Saracens

Sunday, 14 January – 19:30

With three teams on five points, Pool 1 is on a knife edge, although after a blistering first two rounds that saw them thump Connacht 41-5 and the Bristol Bears 36-17, Bordeaux-Begles have powered themselves into a strong position atop the group and have looked like early title contenders.

The Stade Chaban-Delmas crowd will be expecting another big performance against Saracens, who are one of the sides on five points. After losing at Loftus Versfeld in Round One, the English outfit notched a 55-36 win against Connacht and tries could mount up as Damian Penaud and company take on Owen Farrell’s men, who’re coming off a 19-10 Premiership loss to the Tigers.

Expect Bordeaux-Begles to continue their fine form.

Prediction: Bordeaux-Begles by 9.

Suggested Bet: Bordeaux-Begles -7.5 at 1.84.

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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