Rugby Champions Cup: European experts Munster tower over Sale

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European Rugby witnesses the birth a new era this weekend when the Champions Cup begins in place of the now defunct Heineken Cup.

Aviva Premiership teams are likely to benefit from the new system in the long run, but short term this rates as good a time as any to wring some value out of unsuspecting bookies.

This acca pays out at just under 15/1 if all four picks do their thing, and we like the look of each.

Munster to beat Sale @ 2/5

The Irish province’s Heineken Cup brilliance will surely translate over to the new tournament.

Only two clubs won the continent’s last top trinket more than Munster, who triumphed in 2006 and 2008, having been runners-up in 2000 and 2002.

Narrow semi-final defeats to French giants Clermont and Toulon over the last two years suggest the big red machine is still whirring along fine, and after grabbing their first significant win of Anthony Foley’s rein, 34-23 away at Leinster, Munster should take care of an inconstant Sale side.

Bath to beat Glasgow @ 11/8

Without wishing to be unfair to Glasgow, who were after all Pro 12 finalists last term, they haven’t had to do much en route to their current second place in the league.

Four of their five wins have come against sides who occupy the bottom four places, and while a 16-15 home win over Munster is creditable, Gregor Townsend’s men have been walloped 29-9 by Ulster since.

Whether they can live with Bath, who have already beaten last season’s Heineken Cup runners-up Saracens 21-11 and murdered Leicester 45-0 last month, is highly questionable based on that form, even at home.

Ulster to beat Leicester @ 6/4

The end of the Heineken Cup is supposed to put a stop to the English freeze-out, after Irish and French clubs took the trophy nine times in the last 10 years, only punctuated by Wasps in 2007.

Leicester were the last English side to take it before then, in 2001 and 2002, but Richard Cockerill’s boys look a long way from scaling such heights right now, despite stemming a tide of three Aviva Premiership defeats in a row with a 22-16 win at home to Harlequins last time out.

Ulster are unbeaten in six bar a bizarre reverse away to Italian outfit Zebre, largely due to an early red card to prop Declan Fitzpatrick. They look a huge price against a Tigers side that lost at home to London Irish recently.

Scarlets +23 to beat Toulon @ 10/11

No doubt the double Heineken Cup winners will pick up maximum points here, but they’ve only managed to hurdle this handicap against Brive and La Rochelle so far this season.

They couldn’t manage as much during the entirety of their victorious European campaign last term, makes Scarlets a handicap betting gold.

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