European Champions Cup rugby is back and our resident rugby guru has lined up a value-laden bet on one of the game’s of the weekend for you to get stuck into.
With the ‘small matter’ of the November Internationals behind us, it’s back to the club game this weekend and the always crucial third round of the Champions Cup. With no wins to their name it’s crunch time for Bath, Wasps, Exeter, Lyon, Scarlets and Toulon, but while it’s always dangerous to oppose a team in desperation mode I’m quite happy to take one of them on this weekend.
Warriors to fight off the French
As I mentioned in my round 1 preview, the loss of Liam Gill for Lyon was a huge blow for their chances in Pool 5, but the Aussie returns to European action this weekend and two questions loom large here.
- Will he start?
- If he does will it even matter?
I’ve beaten the drum long and hard regarding the tendency of certain French teams to capitulate at this stage, with Castres being the prime example, and Lyon tick a whole lot of boxes to continue this trend.
Currently sitting in fourth position on the Top 14 ladder, Les Loups will be keen to make up ground on the leaders as they face two very winnable games later in the month away at Toulon and at home to Agen.
Yes they impressed last weekend with a strong home win over Pau, but how many of that starting XV will start on Saturday afternoon? Lyon cannot realistically challenge on both fronts and what’s more likely is we will see a couple of those starters mixed with the starting lineup that fell to Clermont in the previous week.
Glasgow, on the other hand, can afford to give Europe the attention and effort the competition deserves with a comfortable position in their Pro 14 conference. With their top stars away on Scotland duty in recent weeks, Dave Rennie’s reserves have been outstanding in comfortable wins over the Scarlets and Cardiff and their unit is in a buoyant mood right now.
An added bonus for the Warriors is the result of talisman Stuart Hogg. Yes, the dynamic full back has already signed on for Exeter next season but don’t expect for his overall effort and class to suffer in any way here. Hogg will starting only his tenth game in 17 months and will be a huge assistance to fly-half sensation Adam Hastings by slotting into first and second receiver and assisting in kicking duties.
What’s the market telling us?
Having opened as a 3-4 point underdog earlier in the week the needle has begun to move towards the Scots in the past day or two.
With lineups only confirmed at lunchtime on Friday I’m sensing the market has already adjusted to Pierre Mignoni naming a mixed bag for his starting XV. If the strongest Lyon team is named I’d expect the line to move back slightly beyond the 3 but no more than that.
Even with their opening loss at home to Saracens in a brutal affair, I’ve noticed a massive mindset change with this Glasgow team this year and I’m going to be taking them straight up on the Match Odds at odds against.
The Matmut is hardly a fortress in comparison to some of the French stadiums, and if Cardiff can get a win in the Rhone region then this Warriors side can also do the business.
Glasgow at 2.22 (Match Odds)