The Algorithm’s predictions for this weekend’s quarter final matches.
So the Six Nations is all done and each side has a league game under their belt heading into the extremely exciting set of Champions Cup quarter-finals this weekend.
Leinster began the tournament as favourites with the bookies and remain so at 7/4 to go on and win the competition. Saracens are second at 23/10 with Racing and Munster next up at 6s and 8s respectively. Those four, therefore, are all favoured to get through their matches this weekend, but each game could easily provide an upset.
The first of the quarters this year sees the surprise package of the tournament so far. Edinburgh host the Irish powerhouse of Munster at the fortress that is BT Murrayfield.
Edinburgh have been almost unbeatable this season at home, having lost just once in all competitions at the home of Scottish rugby and won five of their six group games in this competition as well. They are averaging 28.8 points per game at Murrayfield, but what is even more impressive is that they concede, on average, just 14.4 points per game at home. Having said all of that, they go into this game as slight underdogs, which just shows how strong their opposition are.
Munster went through their group stage undefeated, with five wins and a draw and have lost just six games in all competitions this season. They too, have similar averages, they are averaging 26.7 points per game and conceding only 14.9 but their away form suggests this will be a close game. Munster have won six of their 11 away games in all competitions this season and won only one of their three away games in the group stage of this season’s Heineken Cup.
Munster have shown how good they are through the group stage especially in that match at Gloucester, where they won 41-15. They have all the attributes to win this game, but it will be tough. The algorithm is giving Munster a 57.9 chance of winning and the prediction is for a three-point win but this one looks too close to call.
Edinburgh’s home form makes it hard to oppose them but Munster are a side that can beat anyone, no matter that the venue. Munster have the benefit of having players used to this kind of pressure and level, whereas Edinburgh maybe lack that, so the bet I’m going for is Munster to win by 1-12 points at 6/4.
The second game on Saturday sees Saracens host Glasgow Warriors at Allianz Park, where the home side will be looking to make the semi-finals for the sixth time in the last seven years.
Glasgow are another of the teams that lack the pedigree at this level and this cold be a game that they struggle with, especially given Saracens have their internationals back. Sarries have won all 13 of their home games in all competition this season and have not lost at home in over a year. This season they are averaging a huge 35.9 points per game at the Allianz Park and only concede 18.2. They love this competition and in the group stage, they scored 118 points in their three games, including 51 against Cardiff Blues and 38 against Glasgow themselves.
Whilst Glasgow have been a real force in the last few seasons, even they are going to struggle in this one and the algorithm has Sarries winning by 12 points and a 78.2% chance of winning the game. Glasgow do score plenty of points themselves, however, averaging 27.7 per game this season and I think they will give Saracens a run for their money, but ultimately, Saracens just know how to win games like this.
Saracens are so good in this competition and know what it takes to win games, whether that be through exciting running rugby or just kicking the points required. Owen Farrell should be back after being rested last weekend and after his poor Six Nations I think we will see a bit of a show from him. My bet for this one is for Saracens to score 20+ points and win.
The late kick-off on Saturday sees the all Irish affair between tournament favourites, Leinster and one of the best runners-up, Ulster, at the RDS Arena.
Leinster have lost just four games across all competitions this season and are being backed by most to retain their Heineken Cup title. They won five of their six pool games and that one loss to Toulouse was a big shock, which shows how highly they are regarded. They were the leading scorers in the group stage with 204 points in their six games, averaging 34 points per game, which goes a long with their overall average point scoring this season, which is at 33.8 points per game. The RDS Arena is another of those that has been turned into a fortress over the years, especially so this season. They have won all 10 of their matches in the league and Heineken Cup, averaging almost 40 points per game there and conceding just 11.9 points per game.
The task ahead of Ulster, therefore, is pretty monumental and the head-to-head doesn’t make for great reading either. Ulster have lost 21 of the last 28 meetings and have lost six of the last eight also. The game between these two this season at the RDS saw Leinster run out 40-7 winners, so the home side have all the form heading into this one.
The algorithm is also in favour of Leinster, giving them a 78% chance of winning the game and the prediction is for a big win as well, by 24 points.
Having assessed the game it looks difficult to look past Leinster here and they would have to have a poor game and Ulster to play a blinder for there to be a shock. The home side are so hard to beat in general, let alone at home and with a big crowd behind them, I think they will win this rather comfortably. My bet would be for Leinster to win by 11-20 points, which is at 13/5.
Racing 92 vs Toulouse – Sunday, 15.15
The final quarter-final of the weekend provides us with what could be an absolute classic as last year’s finalists, Racing 92, take on their French counterparts, Toulouse.
The weather looks set to be perfect this weekend and that should make for a typically French style match, with loads of tries and plenty of running rugby. It is always quite tough to know how the French clubs will play, as they are all capable of utterly brilliant stuff as well as having the ability to play miserably.
Racing scored 26 tries in the group stage, averaging 4.3 tries a game and managed a try-scoring bonus point in five of their six games. They currently sit in fourth place in the Top 14 but have not had a perfect season, only winning 12 of their 20 league games and conceding over 20 points per game. They seem to have played their best rugby in this competition however and go into the game as favourites, but their opposition have had a brilliant season.
Toulouse currently sit top of the league, with 16 wins from their 20 league games and have only lost three games in all competitions this season. They also beat Leinster in the group stages and only missed out on topping the group because of their lack of bonus-points. They have done the double over Racing this season and won at this weekend’s venue as recently as last month. Toulouse are a much more consistent sides than their opponents and I think this one could be the match of the weekend.
The algorithm has given Racing a 58.9% chance of winning this game and the prediction is for a seven-point win. This really could go either way.
I am going to go against the favourites here and say that Toulouse will win this game. They have lost just three games all season and are top of the league in France and very nearly topped their group, had it not been for their lack of bonus-points. Toulouse have done the double over Racing in the league and at 15/8, Toulouse to win the match is my bet here.