Weekend to forget for Leinster and Munster in European Champions Cup

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Europe’s premier rugby competition reached half-way point in the group stage this weekend, with plenty of sides left in the running to make the quarter finals.

Toulouse and Harlequins picked up wins to maintain their unbeaten records in the competition and look well-poised to push on into the last eight, while Benetton Treviso, Montpellier and Castres continue winless.

But while there was a win for Ulster, it wasn’t the best week for their two neighbours from the Republic of Ireland.

Winners of the week – Clermont Auvergne

Travelling to Thomond Park has never been an enjoyable trip for the French. In 23 attempts no Gallic club had previously tasted victory at Munster’s home in European rugby.

In fact, only three sides from any nation had done so prior to Saturday’s action.

But, in bringing over a truly epic physical attack, the Vulcans were able to run out 24-18 winners, continuing Munster’s wait for a 100th top flight European victory.

They certainly didn’t hang about, taking just 58 seconds to run in the first try of the game with Kiwi number eight Fritz Lee, a man who would later go on to pick up the man of the match award.

The French side moved to the top of Pool 1 with victory, a solitary point now separating themselves from their weekend victims and Saracens, and the pressure will be on the Irish province to avoid going out at this stage in Europe for the first time in 14 years.

Clermont meanwhile saw their odds of lifting the trophy clipped in from 9/2 into 4/1.

Losers of the week – Leinster

While Munster’s weekend wasn’t great, their fellow countrymen Leinster had one to forget.

Racking up 18 points against Harlequins might not sound too bad, but take into account that their opponents topped it with 24 and the Irish side failed to score a try for the second game running, and alarm bells will be ringing around the RDS Arena.

Also for the second tie running, Matt O’Connor’s side were heavily reliant on Ian Madigan, the fly-half now picking up the last 41 points in Europe for the Boys in Blue. Any injury to the 25-year-old could be a massive blow.

Fail to beat the Quins next weekend and they will be in serious danger of not making it through to the last eight.

They will now have to turn the tables on Quins at the weekend to stand any chance of making it through to the last eight and keep their dream alive.

Following their defeat, Leinster were nudged out to 10/1 from 9/1 to top all of the elite clubs in Europe.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.