Three fix­tures to savour

Irish Examiner - Sport - - CHAMPIONS CUP -

Sara­cens v Cler­mont (De­cem­ber 10)

Hard not to look for this fix­ture im­me­di­ately, given it is a re­peat of last sea­son’s fi­nal. Then, we’re treated to the re­turn leg a week later. The Dec 10 and Dec 17 clashes prom­ise to be huge, with Sara­cens and Cler­mont fully aware they could end their op­po­nents’ chance of reach­ing the knock­out stage. Sara­cens bid to be­come only the sec­ond team to do three in a row, while the French side have three run­ners-up ‘hon­ours’ to their name and are des­per­ate to lift the tro­phy. Glas­gow v Mont­pel­lier (De­cem­ber 8).

It’d be easy to pick Le­in­ster’s first game up, but the Scots are the in-form side in the PRO14 a n d t a k i n g o n M o n t p e l l ie r could be quite a sight to be­hold. Dave Ren­nie has had an in­stant im­pact since join­ing from the Chiefs in the sum­mer, and it looks like the loss of Gre­gor Townsend to the na­tional team has hardly been no­ticed. They pos­sess a solid at­tack, and some huge men up front, while the open style of play could lead to a heck of a game against the big-spend­ing French side.

Mun­ster v Rac­ing 92 (Oc­to­ber 21)

Al­most a year to the day since Mun­ster de­feated Glas­gow in an emo­tion-packed Thomond Park, 24 hours after An­thony Fo­ley was laid to rest, they wel­come Ro­nan O’gara and Rac­ing 92 to Lim­er­ick. This Sun­day’s game in Cas­tres will give us an in­di­ca­tion of how Mun­ster are look­ing after some mixed dis­plays so far, but the visit of Rac­ing to Thomond will tell us even more.

O’gara was given con­trol of the team when they played the same fix­ture last sea­son, and lost, and he will be de­ter­mined to make more of an im­pact this time around.

Mun­ster look vul­ner­a­ble — but we said that last year too.

— Ciarán Ó Raghal­laigh

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