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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Galaxy of stars can steer Montpellier to comfortable win

Wasps and Quins set for another tight battle

Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey takes on the Wasps defence
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Montpellier v Exeter
Sky Sports Action, 1pm Sunday

Star-studded Montpellier weren't able to live with an impressive Leinster performance in Dublin last weekend but they are seven-point favourites at home to English champions Exeter.

The French outfit are a formidable proposition at their Altrad Stadium base, where they have covered the handicap in all four of their home Top 14 matches this season, seeing off Agen, Oyonnax, Toulon and Brive by an aggregate margin of 182-55 and 27 tries to six.

They are still without All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden, who missed out against Leinster with a thigh strain, but should make this reasonably comfortable against a Chiefs side who have won once in six trips to France. 

Montpellier to win by 11 to 20 points
1pt 3-1 Betfair

La Rochelle v Ulster
Sky Sports Action, 3.15pm Sunday

Tournament debutants La Rochelle produced the most eye-catching performance of round one with a scintillating attacking display to beat Harlequins 34-27 at the Stoop.

Their open and care-free style was in stark contrast to the way French teams usually go about their business away from home and it seems safe to expect the Rochelais to give even more in front of their own fans.

Ulster should prove harder to open up than Quins were but there is still a stark contrast between their home and away performances - they lost all three pool matches on the road last season by double-figure margins.

Ryan Lamb was La Rochelle's chief string-puller last week but he also showed at times the defensive frailties that dogged his career in the Premiership and that is an area Ulster can exploit.

Powerhouse centre Stuart McCloskey bagged a try against Wasps last week and he is a huge price to go in again this week. He should need to second invitation to target Lamb's channel with his 16-stone frame.

S McCloskey to score a try
1pt 13-2 Betfair, Paddy Power

Wasps v Harlequins
BT Sport 2, 5.30pm Sunday

Both Premiership sides made a losing start to their Pool One campaign and a second defeat would pretty much write off their chances of reaching the knockout stage.

Quins have already won at the Ricoh Arena this season inflicting the first of a run of five defeats for Wasps. They were 13-point underdogs that day in an entertaining game that swung both ways and given that the visitors have named a strong line-up it seems strange that the handicap has shifted by only three points.

Wasps' injury worries have eased but they still look short of creativity while Harlequins have been scoring relatively freely with at least two tries in every match, and they can at least keep this close.

Harlequins +10
1pt 10-11 Sky Bet

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The French outfit are a formidable proposition at their Altrad Stadium base, where they have covered the handicap in all four of their Top 14 matches
E.W. Terms
Sky bet