2016-12-20 by Phantom
Christmas cheer through domestic action
ANOTHER week of Champions Cup rugby has come and gone and they European teams head back to their domestic competitions which are becoming hotly contested. One needs to bear in mind that this competition has not had the stars involved for a while due to international rugby. The formbook cannot be taken too seriously and good value could be on the cards. Let’s see what is happening in the Rugby 5.
M1: Northampton v Sale
These two teams have been very poor by their standards. Northampton are ninth on the AVIVA Premiership log with Sale one place behind. Both teams suffered heavy losses in Europe last weekend too. On paper, Northampton are a better side. They have more dominant forwards while their backs can be effective if given the chance. The home team are favored in what could be a messy match.
M2: Montpellier v Toulon
This is a tough match to call. Montpellier have a reputation of being workmanlike but they have turned the corner over the last month and they have started to put teams to the sword. They come up against the galaxy of stars that play for Toulon who will be hungry to get their Top 14 campaign on track. By their standards, they have started to fall behind Clermont and this is a chance to signal some intent.
M3: Saracens v Newcastle
This looks like a ready-made banker in all bets. Saracens are mighty and even though they may be tempted to give their second choice team a run, they should still overcome Newcastle fairly easily. Saracens’ second choice side has played for most of the campaign and they have won most of their matches. They should safely do the job.
M4: Wasps v Bath
Wasps have become brilliant to watch and again they performed at a high level in the Champions Cup last weekend. Bath have had a good season too and they are only one place behind Wasps on the Premiership log. The fact that they have to travel to the Ricoh Arena counts against them. Wasps have what it takes to beat anybody especially at home. Leave the door open for Bath just in case they perform above themselves.
M5: Exeter v Leicester
This is a tricky match to predict. Exeter became the first English team to beat Bordeuax in France last weekend so their tails will be high. Leicester escaped with a fortuitous win over Munster in England last weekend in a battle of the boot and ill-discipline. Exeter may arrive slightly more fresh and with home ground advantage they could score a vital win because there is only one point between these teams on the log.