The ever-confusing Heineken (European) Champions Cup is back this weekend for Round 3 of the four rounds of pool games. The competition is split into two pools of 12 teams each, but teams only play two opponents to determine whether they make the knockout rounds. That makes this round crucial for any team with designs on making a run in the cup this season.
Here is a look at some of the games with odds from BetXchange.
Sharks VS Bordeaux Begles – Kings Park, Durban
Sharks are heavy (15.5) point favorites to condemn Bordeaux to their third defeat in the Champions Cup this season. It has been a weird ride for the French side, especially considering they are on a four-match unbeaten run in the Top 14. Their issue has been a lack of dynamic play from their backs – all their tries have come from forwards – something they will have to change to win here. Sharks won the reverse fixture 19-16 in France, and to me, that projects to a big home win against a team that had to travel for 24 hours to get to Durban.
Blue Bulls VS Exeter Chiefs – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
The Chiefs beat the Bulls at Sandy Park back in December, and their style of play gives them a shot at taking down the best South Africa has to offer more than most of the Northern Hemisphere sides. They are on a good run, too – they have won six of seven in all comps – while the Bulls finally picked up a win (their first in four matches) against the Dragons last time out. I don’t think they will win straight up – though I can see a way they could – but I like them to cover.
Clermont Auvergne VS Leicester Tigers – Marcel Michelin, Clermont
This is one of those matches that feels like a big-time European Cup clash. The Leicester Tigers beat Clermont at Welford Road last month, but it has been all change for the Tigers since then as Steve Borthwick left his role as head coach to take on the England job. They have lost two in a row – both badly – in the Premiership, and new boss Richard Wigglesworth will be looking for a performance as he makes seven changes from their last domestic outing. The most exciting addition to their team is Handre Pollard, a player that has been out with a knee injury that he picked up on debut. I don’t think Leicester win this, but they could cover the spread.
London Irish VS Stormers – Gtech Community Stadium, London
One of the games tipped to be closeted this round is in Brentford, where London Irish host Stormers. The traveling side will have to be aware of the dangerous Ben Loader on the wing after he made 146 meters and beat nine defenders in Round 2. Stormers don’t lose many matches, and they will be looking to prove that their defeat at the hands of Glasgow last time out was nothing to be concerned about. They get back on the horse and beat Irish in a close-scoring game.