The final two rounds of Pool matches take place after the Christmas break, starting on Friday night
7.45pm Pool 2 Gloucester v Munster
Munster lead the very competitive Pool 2 with 12 points from their four games to date, unlikely to be a good enough record for a high knockout stage seeding but its a tough group with Castres and Exeter in. Gloucester are bottom of the pool 2 wins and 2 losses so far and unfortunately go into the game with a long injury list which means that Munster -5 at 10/11 with William Hill looks an attractive bet.
1pm Pool 1 Leinster v Toulouse
The key game in Pool 1 after Toulouse beat defending champions Leinster in France earlier in the pool meaning they go into this game with 17 points to Leinster’s 15 though both are in good shape to make the last 8, one as a best runner up.
In Dublin Leinster are a really tough proposition for any opponent, especially for French teams who rarely travel well and Leinster can be backed -11 at 10/11 with William Hill
3.15pm Pool 4 Ulster v Racing92
The key game in Pool 4 takes place in Belfast on Saturday. Racing lead the pool with four wins out of four games and are the notional number one seed for the knock out stages with two rounds of pool matches to go. Earlier in the pool Racing beat Ulster 44-12 in Paris but that was in very different conditions than we will get at Ravenhill in early January, as the stadiumat La Defense is an artificial pitch, indoors, condusive to flair and speed.
Ulster are second in the pool five points behind Racing with three wins and a draw from their four games and with a considerable home advantage with a passionate home crowd contributing. With only three runners up places available for the knock out stages from five pools it is important that Ulster at least get something out of this game. In this respect the opportunity for one attacking bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a match and one defensive bonus point for losing a match by seven points or fewer could be key and the same applies to Racing. Lose by less than a score and it could well be job done to secure the pool win with the Scarlets at home in their last match.
Outright prices here are Racing 8/11 Ulster 6/5 and Racing -2 points on the spread. I think, notwithstanding their results so far that pricing up Racing as away favourites in Belfast is a tough optimistic. It should be very close but Ulster could well scrap their way to a narrow win and I like then at 6/5 with William Hill