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European Rugby Champions Cup: Wasps fancied to topple Toulouse

Wasps salvaged an important draw in Toulouse in the first clash between the sides this season
Wasps salvaged an important draw in Toulouse in the first clash between the sides this season
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Simon Mail previews the latest round of fixtures in the Champions Cup with Wasps' home record likely to make the difference against Toulouse...


"The draw between Wasps and Toulouse back in October underlined the fine margins between the sides but the hosts should have the upper hand at the Ricoh Arena. Wasps have not lost at home since December 2015 with 19 consecutive victories."

Northampton v Castres
Saturday, 13:00
Live on Sky Sports 2

Northampton will not be progressing from Europe this season after a miserable start to the competition. The Saints have lost three of their opening four games including a humiliating 41-7 defeat in Castres in October. Jim Mallinder's side have been a disappointment during this campaign but at least come into this match off the back of three successive wins.

Castres have it all to do to qualify with the French side seven points behind pool leaders Leinster. The Top 14 side have won both of their home games in the tournament but have lost their away matches against Leinster and Montpellier. Castres are not renowned as particularly strong travellers but will have to win at Northampton to have any chance of progressing.

The Saints only have pride to play for but will be keen to avenge their hammering in France a couple of months ago. Northampton are a much tougher proposition at Franklin's Gardens and Castres may be on the receiving end this time. Eight of the Saints' wins this season have been by no more than 12 points and this margin appeals again this weekend.

Recommended Bet
Back Northampton to win by 1-12 points @ 13/10 (Sportsbook)


Wasps v Toulouse
Saturday, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 2

Premiership leaders Wasps are in exceptional form and Dai Young's side look well placed to claim a vital win over Toulouse. With three victories in a row and six from their last seven in all competitions, Wasps are one of the form teams in Europe. But the English side know they cannot afford any slip ups with three teams all on 13 points in their pool.

One of those rivals are Toulouse and the French side are very much in contention for a place in the knockout stages. The Top 14 outfit have recovered from an opening defeat to Connacht with a 20-20 draw against Wasps and two easy wins over Zebre. The four-time champions have a wealth of European experience although the team have failed to progress from the group stage for the last two years.

The draw between Wasps and Toulouse back in October underlined the fine margins between the sides but the hosts should have the upper hand at the Ricoh Arena. Wasps have not lost at home since December 2015 with 19 consecutive victories. In their current form, it is hard to bet against them but Toulouse should push them close with a narrow Wasps win predicted.

Recommended Bet
Back Wasps to win by 1-12 points @ 8/5 (Sportsbook)


Racing 92 v Leicester
Saturday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 3

It has been a dire campaign for last season's finalists Racing 92 with the side yet to record a point after losing all four matches. Their dramatic fall from grace has been difficult to fathom with the side also languishing eighth in their domestic league. Racing opted to rest players in their rearranged home game against Munster last weekend and were well beaten 32-7.

Leicester have had their own problems lately too with the Premiership side dismissing director of rugby Richard Cockerill after a poor run last week. The Tigers have lost three consecutive games but did at least show character in their battling 22-16 defeat at Wasps last weekend under interim boss Aaron Mauger. Leicester have only an outside chance of reaching the knockout stages after two wins and two defeats.

It appears Racing have already thrown the towel in as far as this competition goes but Leicester will not have given up on their slim hopes of progression. The Tigers defeated Racing 27-17 earlier in the season and the visitors appear to have more grounds for motivation under Mauger. In a match which is hard to call, Leicester look worth supporting with a small handicap advantage.

Recommended Bet
Back Leicester +3.5 to win @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)


Scarlets v Saracens
Sunday, 13:00
Live on Sky Sports 3

The Scarlets are a distant ten points behind Saracens in their pool but are still vying with Toulon for a runner-up spot which could lead to qualification for the next round. Sitting fifth in the Pro 12, the Scarlets have been competitive this season and pulled off a memorable win over former European champions Toulon last month.

Saracens have shown no signs of weakness in their defence of the trophy with the side the only one to have won their opening four matches this season. The Men in Black have won 13 consecutive games in the competition which has left them the overwhelming favourites to claim back-to-back triumphs. Mark McCall's side defeated the Scarlets 44-26 at home in October.

The Scarlets have proved tough opposition this season, as shown by their unforgettable victory over Toulon, but this represents another challenge altogether. Saracens will not want to relinquish their winning run and should get the job done in Wales. But the hosts have only lost once at Parc y Scarlets this season and can limit the Premiership champions to a narrow away win.

Recommended Bet
Back Saracens to win by 1-12 points @ 8/5 (Sportsbook)


Toulon v Sale
Sunday, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 2

Toulon have been a shadow of the team which stormed to three successive European titles in the last five years. The side have struggled for form this season with an opening home defeat to Saracens setting the tone. Their shock loss at the Scarlets underlined the problems facing Toulon with the French side in danger of missing out on the knockout stages.

But their problems have been nothing compared to the troubles of Sale in recent months. The Sharks come into this match off the back of nine consecutive losses in all competitions. Steve Diamond's side, who are propping up their pool with four defeats, improved in their last match but still came up short losing 29-26 at Harlequins.

This looks a hugely one-sided encounter and it is impossible to make a case for the visitors regardless of Toulon's own inconsistencies. Sale were thrashed 62-0 on their last visit to Toulon and conceded 50 points at Saracens last month. Toulon desperately need a five-point haul and can cover the 27-point handicap at Stade Felix Mayol.

Recommended Bet
Back Toulon -27.5 to win @ 20/21 (Sportsbook)


Exeter v Ulster
Sunday, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2

While Exeter's European hopes appear to be over, the Chiefs can still make an impact during the remaining games. Rob Baxter's side got off to the worst possible start in the competition losing their opening three games. But Exeter responded with a win in Bordeaux and their form is excellent with just one defeat in their last nine games.

Ulster are only playing for second place but have a decent chance of achieving this with a home game against Bordeaux still to come. The side's recent form is not great with three defeats in their last four games and their away form has to be a concern losing six of their previous seven trips. Ulster edged past Exeter 19-18 back in October.

The Chiefs were beaten at the death in that meeting but Exeter are well-placed to avenge this defeat at Sandy Park. The Premiership side are in a rich vein of form and are backed to continue this run with a home win. Another tight encounter is predicted this weekend and Exeter are fancied to edge to victory over Ulster.

Recommended Bet
Back Exeter to win by 1-12 points @ 13/10 (Sportsbook)


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Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster


2016/17 Rugby P/L

Staked: 68pts
Returned: 67.5pts
P/L: -0.5pts

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