After the break for the Autumn International season the ERCC returns for the third round of pool matches taking place over this coming weekend
Racing 92 v Leicester (Pool 1 Sunday 3.15pm)
In Pool 4 Racing have won 2 out of 2 and at this very early stage are notional number one seed for the quarter-finals. Finalists last year they are a well-rounded side, able to compete up front but attack from anywhere and this is especially the case on their fast track indoors at their new Paris stadium. So far they are the top try scorers in the competition.
This is a match up that should play into their hands as Leicester are struggling defensively. They go into the game on the back of six straight defeats and have conceded 40 points or more in four of their nine games this season, a weakness that did for coach Matt O’Connor who was sacked after the first game of the season and hasn’t been fixed under interim coach Geordan Murphy.
In an era where defensive patterns are drilled relentlessly with specialist coaches and games often take on “rugby league” style phase attacks Leicester are far too easy to break through and their games are often far more unstructured than is the norm in the modern game. This is down to two factors. Although when at full strength Leicester can field dangerous players in Youngs, Ford, Tuilagi and May the strictures of the salary cap prevent much strength in depth in key areas like the back row, which is cumbersome and Leicester are often vulnerable out wide. This is exactly where Racing are strong
Not only do I expect Racing to win but I expect them to do so comfortably racking up points and they should cover -17 at 10/11 with BetVictor
Bath v Leinster (Pool 4 Saturday 3.15pm)
Leinster are favourites to retain the title they won last season and shortened to do so after walloping Wasps 52-3 in the first game of the defence of their title in Dublin in October before narrowly losing 28-27 in Toulouse in the second round of Pool games which might ultimately damage their seeding for the quarter finals. Still a formidable outfit though containing the core of the Irish team that not only won the Grand Slam but which recently beat the All Blacks.
Bath threw away a victory against Toulouse in the first round of matches losing 20-22 then played out a 35-35 draw at Wasps to mean at this early stage they are bottom of this very tough group and really in need of a win. Easier said than done though and I like Leinster to use their experience and win narrowly but Bath to cover +14 at 10/11 with BetVictor
Munster v Castres (Pool 2 Saturday 1pm)
Munster, semi-finalists last year, are a formidable proposition in Limerick with a big home advantage from conditions and fervent home support. Munster drew 10-10 to start their campaign at Exeter and then beat Gloucester 36-22 at home.
They should be strong favourites to overcome French top 14 champions Castres here. A lot of French teams struggle to travel well in this competition and this is especially the case for Castres, a side based down in the sunny Mediterranean and like to come up against cold windy conditions here.
Castres lost at Gloucester 19-14 then beat Exeter at home 29-25 and their results do follow a regular pattern, win at home and lose away
I like Munster to cover -17 at 10/11 with BetVictor