Scotland has the first chance to see both its teams reach the quarter-final stage of the Heineken Champions Cup as the final round of the group stages start with clashes on Friday night.
Edinburgh to win @ 20/39
Head coach Richard Cockerill has done a remarkable job in turning Edinburgh into a force to be reckoned with after what was certainly a tough start to the season.
The capital club welcome a mid-table Top 14 Montpellier outfit to Murrayfield on Friday knowing they are in for their biggest game of the season so far against the French side.
Most of Scotland will be cheering Edinburgh on, even their rivals Glasgow Warriors, who would also be guaranteed a place in the quarters, before their clash against Premiership champions Saracens this weekend, if Cockerill’s players can do the business on Friday night.
Edinburgh go into this game on the back of six consecutive victories, including a couple of wins over their rivals down the M8 in the form of a Warriors side, who have in recent years been the more dominant of the two Scottish pro teams.
With that impressive form in mind, and with Montpellier struggling on their travels, home advantage at Murrayfield with an expected bumper crowd could make all the difference.
On a cold night in the Scottish capital, it should be Cockerill’s boys who get over the line, much to the delight of Warriors coach Dave Rennie and his players in the west.
Racing 92 -18.5 handicap FT @ 5/6
Saturday will see Racing 92 look to get back to winning ways in Europe when they welcome the Scarlets to the Paris La Défense Arena.
Racing enjoyed a 100 per cent winning record going into the last round of fixtures but could not get the win on the road last time out, as they went down 26-22 at Ulster.
The Top 14 side have established themselves as real contenders for the European title this season and not many teams will come away from the Paris La Défense Arena with a victory this term.
Scotland fly-half Finn Russell continues to excite, alongside former Ireland winger Simon Zebo, in what is an entertaining backline that is worth watching.
As for this weekend’s opposition the Scarlets, who went so far in Europe last season, put in an impressive display on home soil against a Leicester Tigers side, who looked like they might be turning a corner after a tough run of results in England.
However, a 33-10 victory over any Leicester side is a good result and the Welsh outfit will take plenty from their efforts against the Tigers.
But going to the Lions’ den in Paris and facing a Racing side looking to put down a marker this weekend will be a completely different prospect for Wayne Pivac’s side.
Scarlets have nothing to play for really in this clash, so expect Racing to pile on the points and really send out a message to the likes of reigning champions Leinster, that this could be 92’s year in this prestigious competition.
Munster -5.5 handicap FT @ 20/23
In one of the picks of the weekend’s games, the two top teams in Pool 2 go head-to-head on Saturday when Munster welcome Exeter Chiefs across the Irish Sea to Limerick.
It should be another intriguing clash between these two quality sides who have a host of international talent, especially considering their last battle which saw the teams draw 10-10 at Sandy Park back in October.
Exeter recorded a 34-12 victory on home soil against Castres in their last Champions Cup outing and Rob Baxter’s side will need to put in a similar performance on the road if they are to get close to Munster in the Irish province’s own patch.
For the hosts, expect Joey Carbery to pull the strings from fly-half, while Ireland winger Keith Earls is always a threat out in wide areas and has plenty of experience in these big games.
Munster through their impressive history are notoriously tough to beat at Thomond Park and again the home advantage should make all the difference, after the men in red had to settle for that draw at the home of the Chiefs.
Leinster -17.5 handicap FT @ 20/23
Leinster look like they will once again take some real stopping if they are to be denied the European crown this season, following four wins in their five games so far in the tournament.
British & Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton continues to win individual prizes and the Ireland star will once again be a key figure when they make the trip across the Irish Sea on Sunday to face Wasps in Coventry.
For a team once used to success on the continent, this has really been a campaign to forget for Dai Young’s Wasps in Europe, as they sit rock bottom of their pool with not a single win from their five games and 171 points conceded.
It could well be a long afternoon for the hosts at the Ricoh Arena as it’s hard to see confidence being high when the Gallagher Premiership side welcome the reigning European champions over.
Leinster are a well-oiled machine and their confidence of getting a win on the road will be high, as they sit at the top of the group ahead of Top 14 outfit Toulouse.
Toulouse have much to play for being just three points behind Leinster, and that should push the Irish side to really for it against Wasps, while the French side get set to host Bath.
Like Racing 92, this weekend could be about making a statement for Leinster in the last round of fixtures before the all-important knockout stages.
With Sexton in the form of his life and with Leinster looking to gain some momentum before the quarter-finals, Wasps could find themselves on the end of drubbing, so the -17.5 handicap does not seem unreasonable.
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