European rugby champions cup northampton could struggle against in form leinster

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Northampton v Leinster

Friday, 19:45

Live on BT Sport 2

Northampton's season has certainly not gone to plan so far with the Saints languishing down in ninth place in the Premiership. Six defeats from their opening ten games is not the form expected from the 2014 champions. But Jim Mallinder's side, who won their opening Champions Cup game at home to Montpellier, have disappointed on too many occasions including their 41-7 hammering at Castres in this competition.

Leinster should travel to England with plenty of confidence after an impressive run which has taken them up to second in the Pro 12 with only points difference keeping them off top spot. The three-time European champions have opened this season's tournament with a comfortable win over Castres and a 22-16 defeat in Montpellier.

Pool Four is shaping up to be one of the tightest groups in the competition and both Leinster and Northampton know the significance of a win this weekend. The Saints have come out on the wrong end of too many narrow defeats during this campaign - five coming by no more than 11 points - whereas Leinster have won nine of their 12 matches in all competitions this season. Five of those victories have been by up to 12 points and the visitors have the quality and experience to claim another at Franklin's Gardens.

Recommended Bet

Back Leinster to win by 1-12 points (Sportsbook) @ 7/5

Munster v Leicester

Saturday, 15:15

Live on BT Sport 2

Munster are looking strong both on the domestic and European front with the two-time champions bidding for a return to their former glories. The Irish side are top of the Pro 12 after winning eight of their first ten league games. Munster have only played one pool game so far but made a promising start after a confident 38-17 win over Glasgow Warriors.

Leicester reached the semi-finals of this competition last season and Richard Cockerill's side will be bidding for another run to the knockout stages. The Tigers were hammered 42-13 in Glasgow in their opener but responded strongly with a 27-17 win over last year's finalists Racing 92 in their home match to keep in the frame for qualification.

Last season Leicester claimed a memorable 31-19 win in Munster but the Premiership side may struggle to repeat this outcome. Munster have undoubtedly stepped up a level this season, as shown by their dominant win over Glasgow in this competition. All five of their games at Thomond Park have resulted in wins by at least 13 points and the hosts are backed to cover an eight-point handicap against the Tigers.

Recommended Bet

Back Munster -8.5 to win (Sportsbook) @ Evens

Saracens v Sale

Saturday, 17:30

Live on Sky Sports 2

Defending champions Saracens are the clear favourites to retain the trophy after a very impressive start in the pool stage. The Men in Black made a huge statement in their opener by claiming a 31-23 win in Toulon to end their immense home record. Sarries backed this up with a 44-26 win over the Scarlets and the Premiership leaders are well on course for more silverware this season.

It is not going anywhere near as well for Sale with Steve Diamond's side struggling to match their encouraging campaign from last season. The Sharks look short on confidence after a run of four consecutive defeats. Sale were beaten 28-11 at the Scarlets before a 15-5 home defeat against Toulon all but ended their European hopes.

This match looks like a nailed on Saracens win and no logical case can be made for rank outsiders Sale. Sarries have already won 28-13 at the Sharks in the league last month and should be able to win comfortably enough this weekend. But the handicap mark is set at a challenging 24 points and a better value bet could be backing the hosts to win by 11 to 20 points at Allianz Park.

Recommended Bet

Back Saracens to win by 11-20 points (Sportsbook) @ 11/5

Wasps v Connacht

Sunday, 13:00

Live on Sky Sports 2

Wasps have built a strong squad capable of competing in England and Europe with Dai Young's side firmly in the running for a quarter-final place. Sitting second in the Premiership, Wasps have taken this form into the Champions Cup after scoring 82 points at home to Zebre before a precious draw in Toulouse kept them unbeaten in the competition.

But Connacht have also made an impressive start and are the surprise contenders to top the pool. Their form in the Pro12 is nothing to get excited about where they are currently eighth in the table. But Connacht have been a transformed side in Europe where they edged out Toulouse 23-21 at the Sportsground before easing to victory over Zebre.

Wasps have an exceptional home record at the Ricoh Arena where they have not lost since last December. Connacht will face their toughest test yet in the tournament and if they get off to a slow start could be punished by their opponents. Wasps have so much attacking talent, with big wins already posted at home to Worcester, Newcastle and Harlequins among others. The handicap mark is set at 15 but Wasps are more than capable of covering this and establishing control of the group.

Recommended Bet

Back Wasps -15 to win (Sportsbook) @ 10/11

Exeter v Bordeaux

Sunday, 17:30

Live on BT Sport 2

Exeter made an indifferent start to the season but Rob Baxter's side are approaching peak form now after stringing four successive wins together. The Chiefs have rattled off 119 points in their last two home games against Worcester and Cardiff. But their European hopes are a long shot after defeats to Clermont and Ulster.

Bordeaux have given themselves a chance of progressing from the pool after winning one of their first two games. The French side pulled off an impressive 28-13 home win over Ulster before losing 49-33 in Clermont. Bordeaux sit seventh in the Top 14 and have struggled on the road winning just twice this season.

Although Exeter's chances of reaching the knockout stages are slim, the Chiefs will be determined to make an impact and get off the mark in the competition. The side are oozing confidence and scoring tries for fun which bodes well for this clash. Bordeaux are not the best travellers and Exeter can overcome a nine-point handicap in front of their supporters at Sandy Park.

Recommended Bet

Back Exeter -9 to win (Sportsbook) @ 10/11


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