European Champions Cup: Exeter to boost home quarter-final bid with Glasgow win

Exeter scrum-half Nic White
Exeter were too strong for Glasgow in their previous pool meeting

Simon Mail previews the fifth round of Champions Cup pool matches including unbeaten Exeter's trip to Glasgow...

"Exeter have won their last eight matches in all competitions which includes a 34-18 home victory against this weekend's opponents Glasgow."

Bath v Harlequins
Friday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Hosts to win all-Premiership clash

The all-Premiership affair between Bath and Harlequins has little at stake in terms of qualification for the Champions Cup quarter-finals. Both clubs are out of contention after poor starts to the European campaign and the emphasis will be on building momentum to take into the domestic fixtures. Bath have lost all four matches while Quins have only claimed one victory.

It has been a steep learning curve for both of these English teams in the competition this season and their inconsistency in the Premiership reflects their disappointing Champions Cup form. Harlequins edged the first European meeting 15-9 but the tables could be turned this time. Bath will be desperate to get off the mark and, despite making wholesale changes, appeal as marginal outsiders on home soil.

Sharks to struggle in France

La Rochelle v Sale
Friday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 3

Sale head to France to face La Rochelle with both teams also out of contention to reach the knockout stages of the tournament. The Sharks are third in their pool with one win from four matches, a point clear of their opponents. Second place is still achievable but there is little chance of securing one of the best runners-up spots.

Steve Diamond's side defeated La Rochelle 25-15 back in November but their record in France is poor and the visitors are hard to fancy in this match. Sale's last win across the Channel came in 2008 and La Rochelle will sense a strong opportunity to win. The hosts may not find the Sharks easy to break down but are backed to win a match featuring under 50 points.


Holders to keep hopes alive

Ospreys v Saracens
Saturday, 13:00
Live on Channel 4 and BT Sport 2

Defending champions Saracens' priority is avoiding relegation in the Premiership but their hopes of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals hang in the balance. Mark McCall's side have won twice and lost the other two games, leaving them third. Their home win against Munster moved them within a point of their second-placed opponents, with maximum points the target from their remaining two pool matches.

The Ospreys have lost all four European matches and appear to have little chance of upsetting Saracens. The visitors will not be ready to relinquish their crown without a fight and should get the job done with something to spare in Wales. Saracens, despite fielding a young team, can make a fast start on their way to victory by covering a six-point first-half handicap.

Chiefs to extend winning start

Glasgow v Exeter
Saturday, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 2

Exeter are poised to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup for the second time and the Premiership leaders will have their sights set on securing a home knockout tie. The Chiefs have won their opening four pool matches and face a Glasgow side ten points adrift of them in second spot. The Warriors are in need of victory to boost their hopes of joining Exeter in the last eight.

The Chiefs have won their last eight matches in all competitions which includes a 34-18 home victory against this weekend's opponents Glasgow. Rob Baxter's side look a serious threat in Europe this season and have already claimed away wins at La Rochelle and Sale. Exeter appear to be close to their best and are fancied to maintain their superb form by covering a five-point handicap at Scotstoun.

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Gloucester to claim home win

Gloucester v Montpellier
Saturday, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2

Gloucester still have an outside chance of qualifying as one of the best runners-up, sitting a distant nine points behind pool pacesetters Toulouse. The Cherry and Whites' sole win in the group was at home to Connacht but they warmed up for this game with a confidence-boosting 29-15 win against rivals Bath in their derby last weekend.

Montpellier are propping up the table and are not known as strong travellers, leaving Gloucester as short-priced favourites this weekend. The handicap mark is set at 17 points and a strong Gloucester side should have too much for their opponents. Chasing a bonus point win, the best bet could be to back more tries in the second half at Kingsholm.

Saints to remain in contention

Northampton v Benetton
Sunday, 13:00
Live on BT Sport 2

Northampton are still in the race for qualification for the last-eight but need to finish the pool stage with two big wins. The Saints, second in the Premiership, were outclassed by Leinster in their last two European games to leave them ten points behind the group leaders. But Northampton come in off back-to-back domestic wins including a dramatic 35-31 victory at Wasps despite ending the game with 13 players.

Benetton are bottom of the pool, claiming just one win, with Northampton expected to claim a convincing home victory. The Saints were pushed hard in the first game, winning 35-32, but it is unlikely to be as close this weekend. Northampton have won all five European clashes against the Italians and can clinch a bonus point victory by covering the 17-point handicap.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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