Week­end pre­views and team news

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP - By Johnny Wat­ter­son

Pool Two Ex­eter Chiefs v Glouces­ter

(Sandy Park, 1pm)

■ The win­ner here could po­ten­tially move to the top with Mun­ster and Cast res play­ing to­mor­row. Ex­eter ar­rive with­out their in­jured Eng­land star, Jack No well, who has beaten more de­fend­ers (15) than any other player in the open­ing two rounds.

Ex­eter cen­tre Ian Whit­ten was say­ing dur­ing the week that they had to learn from their first Premier­ship de­feat of the sea­son ,28-26 to Har­lequins. Still they are sec­ond in the Premier­ship ta­ble, one place ahead of Glouces­ter, who they beat 23-6 in the league last month. Brag­ging rights for Ex­eter then, need­ing a first pool win.

Pool Three Lyon v Glas­gow

(Mat­mut Sta­dium 1pm)

■ Stu­art Hogg, Tommy Sey­mour, DTH van der Merwe and Peter Horne in the Glas­gow back­line gives them pace and class. No one has so far made more tack­les (48) than Johnny Gray (in­set) who is back in the pack. Coach David Ren­nie has made 12 changes from last week.

Lead­ing their con­fer­ence in the Pro14 Glas­gow travel to France know­ing Lyon have lost their last two home games in Europe, de­spite lead­ing at half- time in both. Glas­gow beat Cardiff in round two but will face a strong Lyon side who ,at fourth, are have hav­ing a good spell in the Top 14.

Pool Five Toulon v Mont­pel­lier

(Stade Felix Mayol 3.15pm)

■ Two star-stud­ded teams clash. Where to look for strength sand the an­swer is ev­ery­where if the names say any­thing. But the re­al­ity is that nei­ther side has been go­ing that well in the Top 14 with Toul on in 10 th place and Mont­pel­lier in ninth place with five wins in 11 matches.

Toulon will be look­ing to keep a run of four Euro­pean matches against Mont­pel­lier won by the home side in­tact. But the three times cham­pi­ons have lost their last four games in the tour­na­ment. Home ad­van­tage, how­ever, could be the de­cid­ing fac­tor.

Pool One Wasps v Toulouse

( Ri­coh Arena 5.30pm) ■ Toulouse, who have al­ready beaten Le inst erin France, will re­main top of Pool One if they are able to de­feat Wasps in Coven­try. The last six meet­ings be­tween the two clubs are evenly split with both teams win­ning two games a piece in ad­di­tion to two draws. But Wasps are un­beaten in their last 12 home games against Top 14 op­po­si­tion (W11, D1), and their one draw in that run was against Toulouse two sea­sons ago. Dai Young’ s side have drawn and lost their open­ing games, so win or bust.

Sun­day Pool Three Sara­cens v Cardiff Blues Al­lianz Park 1.00pm

Am­bi­tious Cardiff won the Chal­lenge Cup last year and have an at­trac­tive at­tack­ing style of play­ing. But Sara­cens are com­ing in off the back of a 29-6 win over Wasps at the begin­ning of the month, their ninth win in nine out­ings that has them on the top of the Priemier­ship ta­ble. Only Ex­eter have more try bonus points.

Cardiff have big ball car­ri­ers in Nick Wil­liams and Samu Manoa and have won their first two pool matches. Look­ing strong at home, they will have to come with all of their tools sharp­ened.

Pool Four Racing 92 v Le­ices­ter La De­fense Arena, 3.15pm

Racing are one of the four clubs with two wins from their open­ing two matches while Le­ices­ter win ger Jonny May, ad­mit­ted this week that it had been a “tough” few days since the Tigers 31-point loss to Bris­tol last week­end.

Le­ices­ter are clear un­der dogs fac­ing into this star stud­ded side, who are fifth in the ta­ble in the Top 14. Le­ices­ter are eighth in the Premier­ship with three wins in nine matches. Le­ices­ter will have seen the Racing at­tack­ing mas­ter class that put 44 points on Ul­ster ear­lier in the sea­son.

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