Gloucester (-14) v Castres (+14)
BT Sport 2, 1pm Sunday
Castres have a shocking home record and were awful last season – they lost by at least 22 points in their three games – but there’s reason to think they can stay within their handicap at Gloucester today.
Their wide margin defeats last year came at Welford Road, Racing 92 and Thomond Park, although they were out of the running by the time they faced Munster in the last one and there are two key differences this season. Gloucester are making their return to European rugby after a couple of seasons out, and conditions will also favour the visitors and their pack.
The quick and upbeat tempo that Gloucester want to play at will be heavily curtailed by the weather at Kingsholm, turning this into a pack battle that Castres are well placed to compete in. The French Champions are also excellent on the road domestically – this season they’ve won at Montpellier and Toulouse and were just a point away from doing the very same at Toulon to boot.
Gloucester are likely to be too strong at Kingsholm, but if Danny Cipriano is held back by the weather then that could have a knock-on effect and Castres will fancy a forward battle.
Advice: 2 pts Castres +14 (10/11 general)
Lyon (-10.5) v Cardiff Blues (10.5+)
BT Sport 3, 1pm Sunday
Lyon and Cardiff make their return to the European table and whilst both can make an impact upon the competition, Lyon can make the better start. The hosts lost to Cardiff in the Challenge Cup last season but will have much more focus on their assignment this season and are packed with quality. Charlie Ngatai, Rudi Wulf, Noa Nakaitaci, Lionel Beauxis, and Jean-Marc Doussain all start in the backline and they are part of a side that won 19-13 at Racing 92 (winners at Scarlets yesterday), and who have also posted bonus point wings over Grenoble and Monptellier in the last two weeks.
Cardiff are a progressive side who have continued in the same vein as their Challenge Cup win last season in the Pro 14, but their away form hasn’t matched their home exploits. They’ve lost from winning positions at Treviso and Zebre before taking three on the bounce at home and they’ve also conceded 18 tries to boot. That points to an open game, with good weather, although the wind could play a big part. However, Lyon can cover their handicap.
Advice: 2 pts Lyon -10.5 (10/11 Betfair)
Glasgow (+9) v Saracens (-9)
BT Sport 2, 3.15pm Sunday
Saracens have not lost in 13 club games since losing 30-19 to Leinster in last year’s quarter finals and they can keep their 100% record with victory as Scotsoun. However, this is going to be a lot harder than their 38-13 quarter-final success two weeks ago, as they are on the road and Glasgow’s home record is a fierce one – they are unbeaten at home this season. However, they struggled badly in the competition last season and they lost two of their three home games in their pool. Saracens have the gears and personnel to leave with four points, and the 1-12 winning margin could be the one to back if you need an interest, although Glasgow could be able to stay within ten points here.
Advice: 1 pt Glasgow +9 (10/11 general)
Toulon (-17) v Newcastle (+17)
BT Sport 3, 3.15pm Sunday
Newcastle have made a slow start to the season – not helped by an awful set of fixtures – and things don’t get any easier against Toulon, who have had a similar start to their campaign. Both sides are much better than their positions domestically would indicate, but a handicap of 17 points appears to be a little large given the weather, with winds of 18mph and the likelihood of a wet ball and 30% of rain.
Bath and Scarlets kept within single figures and on a going day 17 points would look big for Newcastle, but their 49-33 loss to Leicester and 20-7 loss to Sale suggests a long afternoon ahead and the sheer strength of the Toulon side should ensure a win.
Advice: No bet.