Heineken Champions Cup 2018-19 (18th January)

There are just 70 days left to go until Britain leaves the EU but Scotland voted Remain and Edinburgh are very much set to stay in Europe.

 

 

The last round of the Heineken Champions Cup leaves 10 teams fighting for eight spots and Richard Cockerill’s side can finish a fine European campaign with victory over Montpellier at Murrayfield. Last in the competition six years ago in the 2011/12 season, they haven’t’ looked back from their opening weekend defeat when they fought hard and were arguably unlucky not to take more than just a bonus point.

 

 

Since then they have won all four of their European games including a really impressive victory against Newcastle at Kingston Park and then a 28-17 victory against Toulon last week at the Stade Mayol with tries from Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, and James Johnstone, with an impressive spell of 20 points in 20 minutes sealing the win.

 

Toulon have had a shocking season but they dominated the possession (65% to 35%) and territory (73% 23%) whilst still beating them by a wider margin than Newcastle did, whilst Montpellier lost 38-28 there. The intelligence use of space from the likes of Johnstone, alongside Bill Mata, and Cockerill has named an unchanged side for this week as they go for seven straight wins in a row.

 

 

Montpellier have a fighting chance of getting a spot in the quarters with bonus points or a win after their thrashing of Newcastle at the Altrad last week but this will be much harder for them here. They were perhaps lucky to get away with their opening win against Edinburgh, however, and their travelling record does not do much to impress.

 

They’ve won just two on the road in the Top 14 and in the last three seasons they’ve lost seven of their eight European road trips. They were perhaps unlucky to lose at Kingston Park by just three points but Edinburgh won there by a clear eight and even with their star studded side they might find themselves on the losing end here. A three point handicap looks fair and so does the 1-12 winning margin for the hosts.

 

 

The other game in Pool 5 is the dead rubber between Newcastle and Toulon, unlikely to be a happy encounter given that they have one win between them in their last 10 games combined. Newcastle are given a ten-point handicap, which would have been tempting a couple of months ago, but since then their slump has been offputting enough and with little on the line it looks worth focusing on the other game.

 

Advice

 

4 pts Edinburgh -3 (evs Ladbrokes)

 

2 pts Edinburgh to win by one to 12 points (8/5 Betfair)