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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Champions Sarries setting hot pace in race for Euro crown

Saints and Tigers set to battle hard

Glasgow's Tommy Seymour scored four tries against Leinster last season
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Glasgow v Leinster
Sky Sports Action, 1pm Saturday

Glasgow came away with no points but a huge amount of plaudits from their 24-15 defeat at Exeter in round one and that reverse has left them with a must-win home fixture against a Leinster side who were no less impressive against star-studded Montpellier.

It looks a daunting task for the Warriors. However, their pool draw was equally tough last season and they pulled off impressive victories against Leicester and Racing 92 before a 14-12 loss to a fired-up Munster side.

Glasgow won their home Pro12 fixture against Leinster 33-25 last season, with Tommy Seymour scoring four tries. He is joined in the back three by returning British & Irish Lion Stuart Hogg, and with fly-half Finn Russell in such fine playmaking form last week, the Glasgow back three are sure to be their prime attacking force.

Recent European meetings – 2011-12: Leinster 38 Glasgow 13, Glasgow 16 ­Leinster 23.

T Seymour to score first Glasgow try

0.5pt 4-1 Paddy Power
S Hogg to score first Glasgow try
0.5pt 5-1 Paddy Power

More rugby union

Australia v New Zealand

Clermont v Northampton
BT Sport 2, 3,15pm Saturday

Northampton have to pick themselves up very quickly from last week’s hammering by Saracens but they have done that once already this season and can put up a fight in France.

The Saints were hung out to dry after a round-one hammering to Sarries in the Premiership, but bounced back with impressive performances in victories over Leicester and Bath.

Clermont overcame Ospreys despite having only 30 per cent of possession last week and failed to cover a six-point handicap. They have hammered Brive, bottom of the Top 14, at home but were pushed hard by Toulon and Racing 92 and the Saints could be worth chancing with a large handicap start.

Benetton Treviso v Toulon, which kicks off at the same time, is being shown on BT Sport Extra.

Recent meetings – 2014-15 quarter-final: Clermont 37 Northampton 5.

Northampton +18

1pt Evs  Betway

Leicester v Castres
Sky Sports Action, 5.30pm Saturday

Castres, the rank outsiders in Pool Four, were happy with a draw against Munster in round one but that may be as good as it gets for the limited French side.

Defeat in Paris last weekend makes this a must-win game for Leicester who will target maximum points against the much-changed visitors.

Only seven of the Castres players who started against Munster line up again, and fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta, who kicked seven points and had a late drop-goal attempt to win the game, is among those absent.

The Tigers played their full part a in a narrow defeat to Racing last week and their dangerous strike-runners should get more change out of a less focused defence.

Leicester -13

2pts Evs Betway

Munster v Racing 92
Sky Sports Arena, 5.30pm Saturday

Munster came up against an obdurate Castres side last week and had to settle for a draw but they face another French outfit who showed an altogether different style.

Racing 92 delighted neutrals with their pacy offloading display against Leicester in Paris. 

Reproducing that kind of confident display on the road has been their problem though - they lost all three away matches in this tournament last season including 22-10 at Munster, and their only win in four Top 14 away matches this term was at Brive.

They may well get to show dazzling touches at Thomond Park but lack the steel to dig deep against sides who can front up physically, as Munster are sure to do.

Recent meetings – 2016-17: Racing 7 Munster 32, Munster 22 Racing 10; 2012-13: Racing 22 Munster 17, Munster 29 Racing 6.

Munster to win by one to 12 points

1pt 8-5 BoyleSports

Saracens v Ospreys
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Saturday

There was no misreading Saracens' statement of intent in their 57-13 hammering of Northampton last weekend and the handicap is set in the mid-20s for the visit of the Ospreys.

The Welsh outfit ended up with a bonus point in their first game after a narrow defeat to last season's beaten finalists Clermont. But they had to fight back from 14-0 down after just ten minutes and were able to get back into range thanks to their 70 per cent share of possession, something they will struggle to achieve against Sarries.

Saracens scored four unanswered tries in the first half against Northampton and are more likely to try to put this game to bed early.

Recent meetings – 2011-12: Saracens 31 Ospreys 26, Ospreys 13 Sarcens 16; 2007-08 quarter-final: Saracens 19 ­Ospreys 10.

Saracens -11 on half-time handicap

2pts 10-11 Betfred, Hills

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There was no misreading Saracens' statement of intent in their 57-13 hammering of Northampton last weekend
E.W. Terms
Sky bet