Bath (-3) v Toulouse (+3)
BT Sport 2 & Channel 4, 1pm
This is sure to be wet, windy and hard fought. Storm Callum will have a big effect on the first weekend’s fixtures, bringing the packs to the fore. Bath are struggling with injuries, missing Taulupe Faletau, Jamie Roberts, Kahn Fotuali’i and Aled Brew, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson, and come here off the back of two comprehensive beatings to Exeter and Saracens.
Toulouse’s last two losses have come at the hands of elite French sides Montpellier (early red card) and champions Castres before grinding out a dour 10-0 win against second-bottom Agen last weekend. Bath’s home advantage would give them an edge and they would be the call in the match markets, although this could end up being very tight again and the evens on under 4.5 tries looks competitive.
Advice: 1 pt Under 4.5 tries (evs Paddy Power)
Exeter (-8) v Munster (+8)
BT Sport 2, 3.15pm
Five campaigns have drawn only one quarter-final place for Exeter, but Rob Baxter’s men have a golden opportunity to go through to the quarter-finals this season and they can start with a win against Munster. The visitors have to be respected and feared even, but their away from this season has been discouraging – three defeats including heavy losses at Glasgow (25-10) and Cardiff (37-13). They raised their game significantly for their defeat against Leinster last weekend, dominating territory and possession, but the hosts held firm in defence and Exeter can do the same. The conditions this afternoon will be attrition, meaning a battle between two of Europe’s better packs, and that could lead to a tight game.
Advice: 2 pts Exeter to win by 1-12 points (7/4 SkyBet)
Montpellier (-13) v Edinburgh (+13)
BT Sport 3, 3.15pm
Montpellier will harbour big hopes of going deep into the tournament and they can start with a win against Edinburgh today. However, a tough injury spot – Nemani Nadolo, Timoci Nagusa, Aaron Cruden, Francois Steyn and Johan Goosen are all out for today – could curb them a bit and this is an Edinburgh side that has only been beaten once by more than 13 points, that coming against Leinster at the RDS. Gamble on Edinburgh staying in touch.
Advice: 1 pt Montpellier to win by 1-10 points (11/4 Betfair)
Scarlets (-1) v Racing 92 (+1)
BT Sport 3, 5.30pm
The one game the weather is set to ruin today. Normally these two could be expected to put on a show but winds of upto 50 mph and heavy rain will turn Scarlets v Racing 92 into a pack fest, something which won’t unduly worry either coach but one that might suit Lauren Travers a little more given the giant pack he brings. However, it looks like a match to leave.
Advice: No bet.
Ulster (-3) v Leicester (+3)
BT Sport 2, 5.30pm
Ulster and Leicester should be locked into another tight encounter, with Ulster welcoming back Craig Gilroy, Jordi Murphy, Will Addison, Michael Lowry and Marty Moore. Their returns are needed following defeat to Connacht last week – that following on from a draw in South Africa and a thrashing at the hands of Munster.
Leicester welcome back their international duo Matt Toomua and Tatafu Polota-Nau after International duty, although the loss of Johnny May to a shoulder injury is a serious blow for them. They were more clinical than Northampton in last week’s East Midlands Derby and workmanlike in beating Sale the week before, when their packs improved on both occasions. That said, they would be much happier with less wind and rain likely. A three-point handicap looks fair as a start for Leicester, but it’s hard to find an angle into the game.
Advice: No bet.