European Rugby Champions Cup: Exeter capable of pulling off crucial Bordeaux win

Exeter Chiefs need a win in France to keep their hopes of a quarter-final place alive
Exeter Chiefs need a win in France to keep their hopes of a quarter-final place alive
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Simon Mail previews the fifth round of Champions Cup matches with Exeter backed to boost their European knockout prospects...

"It is never easy winning in France but Exeter will have the advantage of having already beaten Bordeaux 34-19 in November's home game."

Bordeaux v Exeter
Saturday January 16, 13:00
Live on Sky Sports 3

Exeter head into the final two rounds of pool fixtures still with a realistic chance of reaching the quarter-finals. But Rob Baxter's side will probably need wins in both games as the Chiefs are currently third in the group and four points behind leaders Clermont Auvergne. Exeter lost both away matches but victories at home to Bordeaux and Clermont have given them a fighting chance of progression.

Bordeaux are propping up the table with just one win from their four matches and are just playing for pride. The French side were beaten 28-10 at home to Clermont last weekend in their rearranged fixture which ended their hopes of challenging for a place in the knockout stage. Bordeaux are fifth in the Top 14 and will be setting their sights on domestic success once their European campaign ends shortly.

It is never easy winning in France but Exeter will have the advantage of having already beaten Bordeaux 34-19 in November's home game. The Premiership side are full of confidence after winning nine of their last 12 matches in all competitions. Exeter have plenty to play for and with the extra incentive to qualify are backed to edge to victory in Bordeaux.

Recommended Bet:
Back Exeter to win by under 12.5 points at [2.4]


Saracens v Ulster
Saturday January 16, 15:15
Live on BT Sport Europe

It has been a superb start to the season for Saracens with the Premiership leaders winning their first 12 matches in all competitions. This remarkable run came to an end last weekend after losing 29-23 at Harlequins but the Men in Black are still in great shape. Sarries have a commanding six-point lead in their Champions Cup pool after three bonus-point wins from four.

Ulster are clinging onto hope of catching Saracens and claimed their third win in the group after a dramatic comeback in Oyonnax last weekend. The visitors looked down and out after trailing 23-0 at the break but completed a stunning fightback to win 24-23 in France. Ulster are still in with a chance after this unlikely turnaround but will need to raise their level to upset Sarries.

Saracens suffered their first setback last week but Mark McCall's side are well equipped to put this behind them quickly. The Men in Black have a strong record against Ulster having beaten them in six of the seven clashes in the tournament. The most recent one saw Sarries ease to a 27-9 away victory and in front of their own fans at Allianz Park are fancied to secure another comfortable win.

Recommended Bet:
Back Saracens to win by 11 to 20 points in the Sportsbook at [2.7]


Leinster v Bath
Saturday January 16, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports 3

Leinster have a proud history in Europe after winning three Heineken Cups since 2009 but it has been a dismal campaign this season with the side bottom of the group after losing all four matches. It has been one of the toughest pools with champions Toulon a daunting proposition but Leinster's performances have not been up to scratch especially the embarrassing 33-6 home defeat to Wasps in their opener.

Bath have only a slim chance of reaching the last-eight but the Premiership side produced an excellent effort in their last match when unfortunate to lose 12-9 at holders Toulon. Their performance was extremely encouraging as Mike Ford's team came agonisingly close to inflicting a first home defeat in the competition for the French giants.

There is certainly nothing for Bath to fear from this match after going toe to toe with Toulon last weekend. This display will have given them renewed belief and the English side have already beaten Leinster 19-16 in the home game. Bath are considered the underdogs but probably should not be on the basis of results in the pool so the visitors are worth backing to edge this contest.

Recommended Bet:
Back Bath to win by 1 to 12 points in the Sportsbook at [2.9]


Leicester v Treviso
Saturday January 16, 19:45
Live on BT Sport Europe

Leicester are just one of two sides in the competition to have won all four games so far and another victory will ensure their spot in the quarter-finals. This looks a formality against Treviso and the Tigers will expect a convincing win at Welford Road. Back-to-back victories over Munster underlined Leicester's capabilities which suggest they are outright contenders for the trophy.

While Leicester have flourished it has been a different story for the Italians. Treviso came into the tournament as rank outsiders and have lived up to this status having failed to win a game this season. Their away record offers very little hope of an upset either after losing 33 of 34 trips in the Champions Cup.

The Tigers are overwhelming favourites and the handicap mark is pitched at more than 30 points. Leicester have won all nine games against their opponents and eased to a 36-3 win in Italy earlier this season. The hosts should run up a similar scoreline in front of their own fans and it could pay off to speculate on a win between 31 and 40 points.

Recommended Bet:
Back Leicester to win by 31 to 40 points in the Sportsbook at [3.2]


Toulon v Wasps
Sunday January 17, 15:15
Live on BT Sport Europe

Defending champions Toulon had a huge scare last weekend leaving it late before edging to a three-point home win over Bath. It was a very unconvincing performance from them which suggests the Champions Cup holders could struggle to win the tournament for a fourth year in succession. There is no shortage of star quality in their ranks but they have been well below their best as they sit two points beneath their opponents.

Wasps have given themselves a big chance of qualifying from the pool after a superb run in the opening four games. The undoubted highlight for the two-time competition winners was their emphatic 32-6 home win over Toulon. But this was not just a one off for Wasps as Dai Young's side also thrashed Leinster 33-6.

These comprehensive wins show Wasps have to be taken seriously as a threat to Toulon. The visitors will have to create history though as Toulon have never lost a home game in the competition. But their current form is not on a par with previous seasons and Wasps will take heart from the way Bath troubled them last week. A win may be beyond them but the Premiership side can keep it close and are worth support with a significant handicap advantage.

Recommended Bet:
Back Wasps +12.5 to win in the Sportsbook at [1.8]


Northampton v Glasgow
Sunday January 17, 17:30
Live on BT Sport Europe

Northampton are seven points behind pool leaders Racing Metro but will still have their sights set on qualifying as one of the best runners-up. The Saints need to win their last two matches but will feel confident of achieving this after beating the Scarlets and Glasgow in their opening fixtures. Jim Mallinder's side come into the match off the back of a last-gasp defeat at rivals Leicester in the league.

Glasgow head into this weekend's clash only one point behind Northampton after mixing two wins and as many defeats. The Warriors have lost their last three games in all competitions though and were easily beaten 34-10 in Racing Metro last weekend. Glasgow appear to have gone off the boil lately with the Pro12 champions languishing eighth in the table.

Northampton have struggled to put teams away this season but even without peaking in attack should be able to complete the double over the Scots. The Saints were 26-15 winners in Glasgow and a repeat could be on the cards. But five of Northampton's six wins during this campaign have been by 12 points or less so backing this margin of victory could pay off again.

Recommended Bet:
Back Northampton to win by 1 to 12 points in the Sportsbook at [2.4]

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

2015/16 Rugby P/L

Staked: 81pts
Returned: 92.62pts
P/L: +11.62pts

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