European Rugby Champions Cup: Scarlets can make home advantage count against Bath

Bath head to the Scarlets after an opening win in the Champions Cup
Bath head to the Scarlets after an opening win in the Champions Cup

Simon Mail previews the second weekend of the Champions Cup including games at the Scarlets and holders Saracens...

"The Scarlets are top of their division in the Pro 14 after a strong start to the season and have won every game at home by at least nine points."

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

Although Bath opened up the tournament with a win and the Scarlets were beaten, both sides come in with contrasting outlooks despite their results. The Premiership side laboured to a 23-0 home victory over Benetton and failed to secure a try bonus-point which has to be viewed as a missed opportunity. The Scarlets gave a strong account of themselves and came away with a point from France after a 21-20 defeat in Toulon.

This weekend's hosts will be feeling better about their own position after a losing bonus-point from their toughest match in the pool. The Scarlets are top of their division in the Pro 14 after a strong start to the season and have won every game at home by at least nine points. The Welsh side are fancied to maintain this run and are worth backing to cover a six-point handicap at the Parc y Scarlets.

Recommended Bet

Back the Scarlets -6 to win @ Evens (Sportsbook)

Clermont v Northampton
Saturday, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 2

Clermont made a winning start in the competition last weekend with a hard-fought 26-21 win at the Ospreys. But it was a humiliating experience for Northampton after the Saints were thrashed 57-13 at home to Saracens. Jim Mallinder faces a huge task lifting his players' spirits after their eight-try mauling at the hands of the defending champions. A trip to France is a daunting prospect for the Premiership side.

The hosts are overwhelming favourites for this game and it is easy to see why despite Clermont's inconsistent domestic form. The French side have had a series of near misses in Europe in recent years and may well prioritise this tournament after their start to the Top 14. In their last meeting two years ago, Clermont eased to a 37-5 home win over Northampton and another straight forward success is likely. Clermont can cover an 18-point handicap and add to the Saints' Champions Cup woes.

Recommended Bet

Back Clermont -18 to win @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)

Leicester v Castres
Saturday, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Action

Leicester claimed a losing bonus-point from their opening game last weekend at Racing Metro and the Tigers will be focused on getting a first win this weekend. The hosts take on a Castres side which held Munster to a 17-17 draw at home. Their form in the Top 14 has been poor, sitting 11th in the table, but the side proved they are no pushovers last weekend against the two-time champions.

The Premiership side are warm favourites to win this game and should get the job done but Leicester have struggled to put teams away recently. Their last three wins have been by no more than seven points so there is no guarantee the side will run away with this contest. A win by no more than 12 points is a tempting bet in a match which could provide a few obstacles.

Recommended Bet

Back Leicester to win by 1-12 points @ 7/4 (Sportsbook)

Saracens v Ospreys
Saturday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Saracens have won the competition for the last two seasons and underlined their determination to defend the trophy again after crushing Northampton at Franklin's Gardens last weekend. The Men in Black were completely dominant against their Premiership rivals and it will take an excellent team to deny them more success in Europe. The Ospreys are unlikely to be that side after a six-match losing run in all competitions.

Sarries are overwhelming favourites for this game with the handicap mark set at 24 points. Mark McCall's side surged into a 23-point half-time lead at the Saints and it may be worth backing them for another fast start. Saracens will be tough to handle at Allianz Park and the hosts can cover a 12-point first-half handicap on their way to a second pool win over struggling opponents.

Recommended Bet

Back Saracens -11 in the first half handicap @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)

Montpellier v Exeter
Sunday, 13:00
Live on Sky Sports Action

Premiership champions Exeter made a strong start to the competition after claiming a 24-15 home win over previously unbeaten Glasgow. But it will get tougher this weekend for the Chiefs with a trip to Montpellier. The French side are third in the Top 14 and came away with a bonus-point from their 24-17 defeat in Leinster last week. In arguably the toughest pool this year, every point could prove crucial including in defeat.

Montpellier have an impeccable home record this season winning all four games including a dominant 43-20 victory over Toulon. But Exeter have been difficult to beat and not lost by more than seven points this season. Rob Baxter's side are dangerous opponents and can keep it close even if they are eventually beaten. Montpellier are fancied to take the win but the Chiefs can stay within 12 points.

Recommended Bet

Back Montpellier to win by 1-12 points @ 13/8 (Sportsbook)

Wasps v Harlequins
Sunday, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2

Wasps lost their Champions Cup opener at Ulster last weekend which was their fifth successive defeat in all competitions. Dai Young's side have been hit by a spate of injuries and their form has suffered with the side lacking the attacking flair which took them to the Premiership final last season. Both sides are looking for a first victory in the pool stage after Harelquins lost 34-27 at home to La Rochelle.

This is a crucial match for the Premiership clubs with a win required to have any chance of progression. Wasps are favourites but it is difficult to trust them in their current form especially as they were beaten 24-21 at home to Quins last month. The visitors could have the upper hand again and are definitely worth supporting with a handicap advantage of seven points at the Ricoh Arena.

Recommended Bet

Back Harlequins +7 to win @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)

*Some prices quoted are guide prices only as markets weren't available at the time of publication


Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

2017/18 Rugby P/L

Staked: 27pts
Returned: 12.1pts
P/L: -14.9pts

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