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Stephen Ferris previews this weekend’s stand-out Champions Cup fixtures

| 01.04.2021

After the thrills and spills of the Six Nations, attention turns to the last 16 of the Champions Cup this weekend.

Ahead of the action, we spoke to former Ireland international Stephen Ferris to get his thoughts and tips on the big games.

You can check out the latest Champions Cup odds here.

Leinster v Toulon – 5.30pm Friday 2nd April

Six days ago Leinster won the Pro14 title for a fourth time in a row, with a convincing win over Munster. They now have to back it up with a huge performance against Toulon in this knockout game.

Leinster are huge favourites at 1/7 to win the match and rightly so. Toulon got absolutely battered in their last game of the Top 14 conceding 54 points to Lyon, and they have conceded an average of 30 points in their last five games which is not happy reading.

I can see Leinster teaching Toulon a lesson in this fixture. With so many players to pick from, Leo Cullen can make a number of changes from last week’s final and his team won’t be any weaker.

Toulon, currently sitting seventh in the Top 14, might not be taking the European Cup as seriously as other teams, another reason to suggest Leinster should win this one, and win it well.

Stephen’s betting tip

Leinster -14 at 10/11

Wasps v Clermont – 12.30pm Saturday 3rd April

Well what can we say about Wasps? Such a great start to their domestic league with a few wins early on, now the wheels have totally come off.

With only two wins in their last nine games and only one of these wins being at home, you certainly have to question their big game mentality. We know Wasps have lots of quality players in their ranks and they can no doubt win this game against Clermont, but do they really believe they can? I’m not so sure they do believe.

Clermont have won four of their last five, and won on the road in their last game. We sometimes say that French teams don’t travel well, but I’m confident Clermont won’t mind travelling to an empty Ricoh Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Clermont are 8/15 favourites to get the win and I certainly won’t be betting against them. Raka, Fofana, Moala, Matsushima are just some of the names to look out for in the Clermont backline. If the pack can provide good set piece ball for these sensational players, then expect some fireworks.

Stephen’s betting tip

Clermont -4 at 10/11

Munster v Toulouse – 3pm Saturday 3rd April

This is the game of the weekend for me.

Munster’s backs are against the wall after Leinster gave them yet another beating in the Pro14 final last Saturday. Munster will of course come out fighting, but I’m just not sure if they can take themselves to a dark place physically which is a huge concern.

Munster teams of old were able to get the job done even when they played poorly, but this team can’t. And more worryingly, some of their key players seem way off the pace which is not ideal when Toulouse are coming to town.

This could be CJ Standers’ last European game for his beloved province. He will most certainly be giving everything he has to help his team over the winning line. What a warrior he is.

With the Six Nations finally over and French players released back to their clubs, expect to see a few changes in the Toulouse team that has played reasonably well over the last number of weeks.

Sitting top of the Top 14 league, welcoming international players back, no rapturous Thomond Park crowd… surely Toulouse can get this job done. Or can they?!

Stephen’s betting tip

Toulouse -3 at 10/11

Exeter v Lyon – 5.30pm Saturday 3rd April

The reigning European Champions, Exeter, are certainly one of the big favourites for the tournament this season.

Sitting second in the Premiership and just ticking along week in and week out, it feels like they haven’t clicked into top gear yet. Maybe this is the week that we see the relentless Exeter we all remember from last season.

Exeter got beaten last weekend by a struggling Gloucester in the league, and they have conceded an average of 25 points in their last three games, so why am I not giving Lyon a chance? Exeter are the defending champs, they know how to win big games, and especially at home.

Lyon travels to the south of England off the back of a huge win against Toulon. They have talented players with serious individual skills who can turn a game in an instance.

Tuisova at fullback is super dangerous, Nakaitaci on the wing has pace to burn, and Jean-Marc Doussain is a little maestro when given time and space on the ball.

Exeter however won’t be giving these players any time to get into their comfort zones and will be applying significant pressure in defence. As good as some of the Lyon players are, they are susceptible to game changing mistakes. They need to play a perfect game to give themselves a chance and I feel Exeter will make that task impossible.

Stephen’s betting tip

Exeter -14 at 10/11

Stephen’s four-fold Acca picks

Leinster -14

Clermont -4

Toulouse -3

Exeter -14

Total odds – 12/1

View the latest Champions Cup odds.

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

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