TOP14 Rugby Betting, round ten – All Saints

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round ten

La Toussaint – or all Saints day, brings us a feast of midweek rugby this week, starting at 1:10 pm GMT and running through to roughly 5 pm. Games will be on canal+, setanta Ireland, or via your internerd (if you’re in work you might get away with a stream in the bottom corner of your screen)…. As a general observation; most players SHOULD be well up for these games even with the expected squad rotations, with national audiences watching in big numbers on their day off. This is an assumption of course, but worth bearing in mind.

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 13:10pm, Grenoble v Biarritz, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Grenoble -3 5/6 Stanjames, Biarritz +4 evs Victor Chandler.

Grenoble have beaten a four point handicap in every one of their home games this season, against Perpignan, Racing metro, , Stade Francais, and Mont de Marsan. Biarritz have been surprisingly effective on the road, just recently staying within seven away at Clermont, and losing by a point at Racing metro. They’re both neck and neck in the table in sixth and seventh place, and with rotten weather in the general area since late last week (it snowed in Grenoble on Sunday), rain today and a brief respite tomorrow morning, this one looks set to be a real arm-wrestle.

Biarritz start with Peyrelongue and Traille at nine and ten, so there’s plenty of experience there, but with a slight doubt over Peyrelongue’s fitness. With two accomplished kickers and the weather the way it is, expect Biarritz to kick almost everything and try to feed off mistakes, and vice versa from Grenoble. Grenoble bring Sowerby and others back from resting in the loss away to Montpellier, and generally when he plays they do well. Courrent – the Grenoble kicker – is second only to Wilkinson in the TOP14 kicking stats so they should take any opportunities they get

This is likely going to be a low scoring tussle between two mid-table rivals looking to get one over on each other. We’re not confident on the handicap of 4 for either side (incidentally it started at -3 for Grenoble). Looking at recent results Biarritz have done well in poor conditions in Clermont and in the Heineken cup, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they won this one out of sheer stubbornness, so we’re not even interested in the 1-12 Grenoble at a miserable 6/4 biggest in bet365, despite the fact it is the most likely result. We are going to have a small interest though and save our bigger bets for other games.

TOP14 rugby betting – Main bet (Small stakes for interest) – Back the draw at biggest 20/1 in bet365 (18/1 is good too elsewhere). Statistically we’re due a glut of draws in France as they’ve been few and far between so far this season. Two teams neck and neck in the table, miserable conditions – this is probably going to be one of those games where a draw will be the only fair result, and there’s a better-than-usual chance of it coming in. A win will give us a nice bank to work with for the weekend. If you want to be slightly more conservative, you can get ‘any result involving a draw’ at 13/2 (market only in Paddypower). this pays off if it’s a draw at half time or fulltime.

130 pm games

Top14 Rugby Betting, Agen v Clermont, Online streams, Clermont -8 everywhere.

Clermont (2nd) head to Agen (13th, and worst defence in the league) without Morgan Parra, but other than that they look as good as they have in the recent Heineken cup games. We’re always cautious about backing teams away from home in France to beat big handicaps, but there’s reason to look at it here. Aside from Parra Clermont have the same backline from the Heineken Cup games except for Buttin at full back (with Byrne on the bench), and a similar pack. Toulon are setting the pace at the top of the table and away wins have taken on a new importance for the likes of Clermont and Toulouse.

They have a perfect opportunity here at Agen as they’ve a rake of injuries, and they look to be putting out a pretty weak offering tomorrow. Whether all of these injuries are actually real or not is another thing, but it’s clear they’re expecting to lose the game and with Agen in the position they are in, they need to be pragmatic and rest whatever quality they have and pick their battles. They’ve picked the young and inexperienced flyhalf Lamoulie at full back tomorrow and that seals the deal for us.

TOP14 rugby betting – Main bet, medium stakes – Take Clermont -8 at 10/11 in paddypower and elsewhere before it likely moves out after the official Agen team announcement. The only thing that could hinder this is the small bit of light rain that is forecast but if Clermont turn up they’ll get a bonus point.

Bayonne v Bordeaux – No bet for us here ( apart from 2 quid on the draw double with Grenoble/Biarritz for 500/1!). Bayonne should win this with many changes for the better from last week’s side, but you couldn’t count on them, and not just because of the Toulon result – they were bad at Dragons too with roughly tomorrows starting team. If you had to have a bet it would be Bordeaux +10 – they almost beat Toulouse at home a few weeks ago and will fancy this after Bayonne’s performance last week. If you’re looking for something slightly less risky you can also get Clermont -7.5 at 5/6 , only in ladbrokes for a drop of 8% in winnings (10/11 vs 5/6).

15:15 Last Game

Top14 Rugby Betting, Toulouse v Racing Metro, Canal+ , Setanta, Toulouse -11 bet365, Racing Metro +13 Stanjames

Why did Toulouse lose last week at Stade Francais by 4 points? Well, they were missing a raft of experienced players, and they had a less than stellar ten in Bezy. This week, McCallister is back at ten and Picamoles comes back into the backrow with Galan (who was excellent last week).

Toulouse haven’t played many games at home recently but since the start of the season game v Castres which they won by a point, they’ve beaten a 12 point handicap at home in every game since, including at home v Leicester in the Heineken cup. Of those TOP14 games, it’s fair to say that not alot of teams went to Toulouse with serious effort except Mont De Marsan – who almost pulled off a shock until their lack of a bench told. So despite the statistics, it must be remembered than many of the sides that pitched up in Toulouse were weakened, and in most of them Toulouse had a stronger side out than they do on Thursday, and they’re still missing their captain Dusatoir.

Racing Metro show up tomorrow with a rhobust looking first fifteen that is almost their strongest lineup. Barkley hasn’t played inside centre in a while but he’s well able having played there for England and Bath quite a bit. Germain is back at full back and he’ll likely take their kicks. The pack is first choice and all in all it’s hard to see where Toulouse have a very clear advantage except a slight one in the backs, and the fact they’re at home.

In terms of winning and losing margins for Racing Metro, here’s where it really gets interesting. Since the start of the season, Racing Metro have won or lost nine of their total eleven games (including Heineken cup) within 1-12 points. Of the two they lost outside of that margin, one was a fourteen point loss was away at Grenoble (after a late kick through scrambling try for Grenoble that cost us a lump!), and the other was in the Heineken cup where they lost to Saracens away with a weaker team than this, and with no Hernandez or Germain (and they almost get back within the 1-12 towards the end of that game, and stopped a Saracens getting a bonus point). The weather is set to be showery tomorrow afternoon, and it has rained a fair bit across France all week.

Racing started to lose games this season when they lost their main kickers in Germain and Wisniewski. With Barkley and Germain they don’t have that problem anymore and this big pack are set up to squeeze points out of the opposition. For the public holiday game tomorrow they’ve named a full squad and I can’t see them not turning up to play with this being the biggest and last game of the day in France. With Racing’s recent record, the large public audience, the strength of the Racing lineup and Toulouse being still short of a full deck; there’s only one bet for us here.

TOP14 rugby betting – Main bet – we’ve taken Racing Metro +13 only at Stanjames (12 elsewhere).. I know it’s tough for people to back against Toulouse at home on the handicap, but almost every sign points to Racing staying with them tomorrow.

Small stakes thought – for anyone who thinks Racing Metro have a chance of a win tomorrow (we do, a small one, but not insignificant), then Paddy power have a ridiculous price on Toulouse half time/Racing full time at 17/1; It is nowhere near as unlikely as that looking at that Racing side named for tomorrow.

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round nine

TOP14 Rugby Betting preview round 9

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 14:00 Stade Francais v Toulouse, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Toulouse +2 10/11 PaddyPower, Stade Francais scratch 10/11 stanjames

Toulouse rock up to Paris for the Classico at 2pm, and they’re in bad shape. Picamoles, Dusatoir, McCallister, Beauxis, Botha, Steemkanpf, Albacete, Tolufua and many others are missing and a weak enough Bezy is at ten (though he could switch around with Burgess at nine). It is at most half a first choice Toulouse team. Toulouse have had a good run in the Heineken cup, but the week before they came very close to losing away at Bordeaux with a stronger team than this.

Stade Francais are at virtually full strength with Porical back to kick their goals, and formwise in the league they’re putting some good results together with the challenge cup; narrowly losing away at Clermont, and beating Mont de Marsan away (and remember, away form has been their big problem). With unusually good recent away form they should perform well at home.

Looking at the Toulouse side there’s plenty of experience and quality, and it’s tempting to side with them and the decent bench, but there’s too many changes and lynchpins missing from the side. The clincher for us here is that many of the Toulouse starters for this game are just back from injury and won’t be 100%. When you put that into the melting pot with an unreliable goalkicker/flyhalf, and Porical’s metronomic boot for Stade Francais, it’s hard to see Toulouse winning this battle starting with so many disadvantages. Revenge for last years beating is in the air and Stade Francais won’t get many better opportunities..

TOP14 Rugby Betting – Main bet – Take Stade Francais to simply win – 10/11 in Betfred, Sportingbet or Stanjames

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 17:30 Toulon v Bayonne, canal+ . Toulon -19 Ladbrokes, Bayonne +22 Paddypower

Bayonne are on four straight wins but they’ve been against relatively mediocre teams compared to what they face later today at 5:30. They don’t have their main starting fifteen out here, they have a ten in potgieter who will be rusty, and they could be in for another tough evening with Toulon having put 50 on them last year in this fixture.

Toulon name a virtual full side if you include the bench and will doubtless be chasing a bonus point win here and more. Wilkinson is in good form and is taking his kicks when they come which should keep the scoreboard ticking over. Two worries are Giteau on the bench and not starting at 12 (Toulon always seem to play better with him at inside centre) and Michalak is at nine where his service has been less than exemplary. Both of these positional situations mean we’re not thinking of big handicaps here.

We were already on Toulon -19 in a small way with good weather forecast and indications of a weakened Bayonne team, but after Ulster’s demolition of Dragons last night we topped up our stake; with a full team last week Bayonne struggled to beat that same Dragons side by three points and that is the clearest recent indicator that they’re unlikely to stay inside the handicap here.

TOP14 Rugby Betting – Main bet – Take Toulon -19 still available in Ladbrokes (-20/21 elsewhere). 3 tries is a bonus point plus four or five Wilkinson pens and another try for good measure – should be well enough to get us over the line. Paddy power are expecting over 3 tries, pricing that up at 1/2, so it’s not only us expecting Toulon to beat the cap.

Not much else immediately jumps out this week for big bets in the TOP14, but we’ll have a few extra punts in the forum throughout the day no doubt.

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

Rugby Betting Previews – Premiership Round 7

Premiership Rugby Betting Previews round seven

Sunday

Premiership Rugby Betting London Irish v Quins, Sunday 14:15pm GMT, ESPN. Quins -3 Ladbrokes, London Irish +5 Stanjames

It would be very easy to cop out of punting on Sunday all together, but when you really squint hard you can see an opening or two in Sunday’s two games. A casual glance, and you see Quins against second from bottom London Irish. Look harder, and you see two teams with almost polar opposite stats in the try department; London Irish have conceded 18 scores this season, Quins have scored 20. London Irish have scored 11 tries, Quins have conceded 11. Quins have scored 185 points, Irish have conceded 197. Quins have conceded 126, and Irish have scored 127! What do these stats mean? Well, you can draw a few conclusions but the main ones are that overall Quins have the beating of Irish in every scoring statistic so far this season, by a large measure. So how does that translate into Sunday?

London Irish have two wins so far this season. One against Bath at home, and the second against a Northampton virtual second string ( anything aside from 12 or 13 first teamers for Saints is a second string these days witht he weak bench they have). Irish have definitely improved since the season started but the fact is they’re second from bottom and would be bottom if it weren’t for Sale having seven straight losses on the bounce. They’ve been absolutely trounced on the few occasions they’ve met any quality and the question that needs asking is whether or not Quins have that quality tomorrow?

Looking at the handicaps, the bookies don’t seem sure that they do. There’s changes in the Quins lineup with Casson and Hopper at centre, and Evans is still missing with Botica starting. But Botica can kick his goals, and he steered them through two tricky Heineken cup games with aplomb. Hopper and Casson aren’t ideal in the centre but they’ve been part of plenty of big Quins’ victories in the past and defensively should be able for the trickness of Jonathan Joseph. The Quins pack looks…well, like the Quins pack. It’s hard to imagine the London Irish scrum getting the better of this lot, and with heavy rain forecast for much of Sunday, and a rookie full back playing for London Irish, territorial play could well be Irish’s undoing. Care and Botica have the measure of Humphreys and O’Leary ( who are playing well mind you), and in general the forecasted wet weather should negate any big advantage Irish might have had in the backs by playing it fast and loose.

Quins have been playing close into the ruck with short swift offloads through the pack and it will be perfect for the expected conditions tomorrow. If you forget about the Northampton result and look at Irish’s losses they’ve struggled against any teams with big abrasive packs and that’s what they’ll get tomorrow in Quins. When you add eveything into the mixer, and look at the respective league positions – unless Quins do another Exeter-away-day and don’t show up defensively, they should run out winners here with a score or two to spare. If Quins get a few tries they’ll go after the bonus as it puts them joint top with Saracens. I don’t think Quins have been fifth in the league in over a year, and they won’t want to wake up in fifth position come Monday morning.

Premiership rugby betting- Main Bet, We’re on the Quins -3 still available in Ladbrokes at 10/11. There’s also -2.5 still available only at Ladbrokes at 5/6; if you’re risk more risk averse and don’t expect many tries that gets you home if there’s only a penalty in it at the death.

Wasps v London Welsh.

This game is probably one to avoid. London Welsh put it up to Sarries recently and they have a stronger side out tomorrow. Anything could happen here and it’s not even on the tellybox so best avoided. BUT, If you’re going to the game, or have an addiction to bbc radio rugby commentaries…..then you could do worse than back Wasps -31 at 8/1 for small money value in Ladbrokes. It’s due to be wet, so this is unlikely – but Stade Francais showed Wasps how to do it in the Challenge cup and Wasps have the ability if things click for them.

Saturday

Premiership Rugby Betting Bath v Exeter, Saturday 14:30pm GMT, Skysports1. Bath -4 Boylesports, Exeter +5 paddypower

This is a fascinating game on our tv (/computer…) screens this Saturday afternoon, and is one of the toughest games of the weekend to call at first glance. The handicap for either team doesn’t look attractive as these teams are currently quite evenly matched.

You wouldn’t think it, but Bath are only one point behind Exeter in the table in seventh place. They’ve been tipping along under the radar with mediocre performances but with victory here they’d leapfrog the Chiefs when it has been Exeter grabbing all the headlines and attention. Bath name a virtual full strength side if you forget about Banahan, and Exeter are almost at about 85%, but they’ll miss captain Hayes who tends to hold things together for them away from home.

After their complete capitulation at home to Clermont it’s fairly safe to say that Bath will have been studying that game for insight on how to get in behind Exeter. Once you get turnovers, if you move quickly you can get in behind the initial stiff cover and things really open up, with Exeter not very effective on the scramble. Springbok Francois Luow starts tomorrow and his ability to turn possession coupled with Exeter’s propensity to turn over ball lately (and not just v Clermont) could be the key to unlocking Bath’s first bonus point try victory of the season.

Exeter are conceding tries in the league too and of the top seven sides they’ve conceded the most tries so far this season (13), with most of those coming away from home. They conceded none against a bland Leinster recently, but were like a sieve versus Clermont. Bath on the other hand have scored nine tries so far, with three coming in each of their home games to Sale and Wasps.

Looking at the handicaps we’re thinking Bath -4 is probably the better pick of the two, and the whopping 10/1 in williamhill for Bath 21-30 is quite tempting for value and we may bave a tenner on it, but we have a different angle.

Premiership rugby – Main Bet – We’re taking ‘Total home team tries over 2.5’ at a quite large 6/4 in Ladbrokes (5/4 in Paddypower).. Bath should score tries tomorrow; Exeter have been conceding away from home, and they conceded a pile against Clermont last week. Bath at home in the sun with a good team and an good impact bench (including the excellent Agulla formerly of Tigers fame) will be going after tries and should manage three if not four, with the unpredictable Donald at ten a better man than the departed Barkley to get the backline moving, or get one himself. Exeter will likely come out to play ball aswell and could end up inside the five points so the handicap doesn’t feel like the right bet here. This could be a cracker of a game and we’re really looking forward to it. The 6/4 looks too big for three or more tries for Bath, and good value. Medium stakes.

Small tryscorer punt – Perenise on the bench should get 20/30 minutes and could be worth a small few quid at 40/1 for last tryscorer in Williamhill (28/1 elsewhere). He loves a bit of a rampage and knows where the tryline is.

Premiership Rugby Betting Northampton v Saracens Saturday 15:00 GMT, Not televised, Saracens +3 in Ladbrokes, Saints -1 Boylesports

This one isn’t televised so we won’t be having a very big bet on it, but to us the bookies have the wrong team as favourites. Saracens may be below Saints in the league but they’re the better side, and if it weren’t for Farrell starting at ten we’d be having a full size bet on them +3. Farrell has been off form for a long time but he has been coming into a bit of form lately so hopefully for his sake he continues his upward curve.

Anyway, the bet we have here is based around Hodgson and a strong Sarries bench being available for the second half. As usual, Saints are thin enough in the replacements, and they tend frequently start fast without being able to close the deal. They also have Myler at full back who Hodgson should be able to exploit better than Farrell. Northampton half time/ Saracens full time is biggest 8/1 in Ladbrokes and is well worth a punt.
If Farrell starts he may miss kicks to keep the Sarries score down, and if Saints hit half time in front Saracens have the backline and the bench to turn things around. This is 6/1 elsewhere so it may not last to 3pm. Medium stake for us based on pure intuition from recent games and Saracens having a knack for nicking tight away games. We’ll have a small interest in the Saracens +3 too .

Premiership Rugby Betting Gloucester v Leicester Saturday 16:35 GMT, Skysports , Gloucester +4 betfred, Leicester -3 Ladbrokes

We’ve been on the Tigers minus 2 available from early on in the week, but that’s all gone now with Leicester -3 and -4 everywhere. We would have mentioned it earlier on in the week but we hadn’t seen the teams yet. There’s still -2.5 going in Ladbrokes only at 5/6. Tigers name a seriously strong side here with a beautiful looking backrow in Crane Waldrom and Mafi. Hamilton on the right wing might cost them some pace, as may well Murphy being just back from injury, but Gloucester shouldn’t see too much ball if their recent form in the forwards is anything to go by. They were awful in the Challenge cup recently, failing to score in the second half against a second-string Bordeaux Begles team. They won’t have much of a lineout tomorrow with Hamilton (who has been linking alot of their play recently too) out injured and most of their hopes probably rest on Freddy Burns churning out some magic.

Leicester’s pack and set piece are completely superior, along with the half backs and centres. Gloucester might have a slight edge on the wings but with paucity of ball it shouldn’t amount to much. The Tiger’s bench is also far stronger and it could be a long day at the office for Gloucester. The tigers have beaten them well with alot of relish recently and there’s nothing to say that won’t happen again tomorrow.

Premiership rugby – Main Bet – Take the Leicester -2.5 in Ladbrokes at 5/6, or even the -3 elsewhere. Leicester should win this one very well.

We’ll have some tryscorers up for you when more prices come out.

Friday

Premiership Rugby Betting Worcester v Sale, Friday 8pm GMT, not televised. Worcester -5 Boylesports, Sale +6 paddypower

This one isn’t televised on Friday so we’ll be brief enough. Sale haven’t won a game all season in the premiership, but managed a win in the Heineken cup two weeks ago – coming from well behind to pip Cardiff by a nose. That will have given them some reasons to be cheerful. but they’re up against it here again versus one of their relegation rivals in Worcester. It’s hard to see them letting Sale get one over on them here, and It’s often the lesser teams that really put away other lesser teams when they’re weak and vulnerable. Worcester have been scoring tries for fun lately in the Challenge cup racking up monster scores and while the opposition weren’t strong, the relative ease of the games and the cohesive-familiarity they will have bred leaves them looking strong favourites against a Sale team probably drained after two tough Heineken encounters.

The gameplan here for Sale looks try to keep things tight and unleash a decent bench in the second half, but the Worcester bench is useful aswell and there’s no real advantage there for Sale. Worcester have covered most of their handicaps so far this season, and will be looking to lay down a marker from early on in this game and to go for a bonus point. It’s hard to see them slipping up with the form profiles of both teams, and Sale haven’t come near staying within a five point handicap of anyone all season. They have to win sometime, but it’s not likely to be this week.

Premiership rugby – Main Bet – Take the Worcester -5 available in Boylesports, skybet and Ladbrokes, medium stakes.

More to Follow…

Don’t forget to head over to our new Rugby Betting forum to join the discussion and contribute. There’s already plenty of discussion and winning rugby tips. All are welcome and you can choose your own team/country crest.

Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting, Round 7

Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting

Saturday
None of Saturday’s games really jumped out at us this week so we won’t manufacture something for the sake of a punt. Glasgow/Treviso and Ospreys/Connacht could both go either way on the handicaps.

Leinster v Cardiff at 630is a very tough game to call on the handicaps (around 15). Leinster’s scrum should be enough to win this for them but there’s change in alot of combinations. Leinster are still not playing with a full deck and are missing some key players like Nacewa and the long term injured lads, and they will be coming down from the intensity of the Heineken cup. Cardiff send over a good team with lots of quality, buoyed after a valiant effort at home to Toulon. Initial thoughts are that the +16 is probably the right pick on balance but it’s rarely a good idea to back against Leinster beating a handicap at home despite recent form, and we don’t recommend it.

There is however some value in Cuthbert to score a try anytime (score a try in 80 minutes) at a very large 4/1 in Paddypower (2/1 and 5/2 elsewhere). He scored a hatrick v Sale in the Heineken, he’s in terrific form, and he’s a nightmare to stop. Up against him here are Dave Kearney who is just back from injury, Madigan at Full back who hasn’t been convincing, and MacFadden who has been playing mostly at centre so far this season. There’s a potential for holes then in the Leinster backline defence. If Cardiff get any ball it’ll end up with him and his pace and power could well see him over the line. Small enough stakes that should pay off.

Friday

Dragons v Ulster kicks off round seven of the Rabo Pro12 this weekend and at first glance there’s not alot screaming off the page at us. After a busy fortnight in the Heineken cup and Amlin challenge cup, there’s plenty of rotation across the league. Add to that the resting of certain players for upcoming Autumn internationals, and the blooding of others, and you’ve a complex recipe to try to bake your profit-cake from. Friday nights are always the most unpredictable rugby betting period of the weekend for some unknown reason, and the extra spice mentioned above means the best tack is probably not to over analyse too much and try to simplfy things as much as possible.

Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting, GMT 19:05 Dragons v Ulster, Ulster – 7 Boylesports, Dragons +9 Stanjames

Formwise Ulster are the form team in Europe and come into this one unbeaten both domestically and in Europe. They dispatched Glasgow dutifully last week and despite scraping in at half time they stuck to the game plan and won comfortably in the end. Tonight’s game will be a similar affair just without the incessant rain – both the Dragons and Glasgow are at a similar level lately and Ulster should have the beating of them, despite the positional changes.

Tommy Bowe – in page one from Declan Kidney’s ‘how to interfere with provincial teams’ manual – is in a full back here, for some reason best know to Kidney. Could it be because Irish cover is very short right now at Full back, and he might need to cover there in the middle of a game? Who knows really, but for tonight’s purposes he’s there and we have to deal with it. If you’re thinking of the Ulster handicap, it puts things a bit more in doubt as it will undoubtedly take some adjusting to for the entire backline, and the Dragons will likely target their kicks to try to take advantage of it. Bowe is a winger, simple as that really. There are a few other changes but not as important; Pienaar starts at ten with Jackson on the bench, and Stevenson (who is no slouch) comes in for Muller alongside Tuohy, with the capable Fitzpatrick in for an overworked Afoa.

The Dragons were just beaten by Bayonne (3 point margin) on Saturday and are virtually unchanged from that game. It was a strong Bayonne side and they played far better than we expected them to. Chavanga coming back made a difference, Robling played well, and had they got the rub of the green they could have beaten an almost full strength Bayonne side. They’ll come into this game with renewed confidence and they played well-ish against the Scarlets, losing away by only 11 after some awful luck in the first half. Both those games were in the rain, and they’ve been in three tough slogs in the rain (Small bit when they were beaten by Wasps), so they’ll be tired too. Ulster have been excellent in attack recently and the dry weather should suit them more than it will the Dragons.

When the handicaps first came out for this game we were immediately a bit put off with Ulster up around eight or nine. Ulster were beaten here last year with a similar (albeit weaker) side than they have out tonight. The key for Ulster here is the three lads on the bench in Payne, Afoa, and Jackson, who can all come on and have some real impact if Bowe, Fitzpatrick and Pienaar are having issues. Ulster have to lose at some point this season, but the Dragons are probably not going to end the streak. Ulster have to be tired too though, and they may just settle for four points here.

Rabo Pro12 rugby betting – Main bet– Alot of people are expecting Ulster to run away with this, but we’re not crazy about the handicap. We initially had a different tip up here for about 20 minutes but due to some miscommunication between a few of us we’ve taken it down. The ‘Will one team win both halves’ market and price was mixed up via email as Ulster/Ulster. It’s probably still a good bet but we’re changing our main punt. We’re taking Ulster to win by 1-12 points at biggest 7/4 in stanjames (8/5 bet365). Ulster should win this but with the disruptions and fatigue, along with a confident enough dragons side, they shouldn’t hammer the Dragons on their own turf. We’re having a small nibble of Dragons half time/Ulster Full time too, also biggest in Stan James at 13/2.

Tryscorer tip
– for small money have a go at Afoa last tryscorer at 40/1 in Williamhill or Ladbrokes (nowhere else). He’ll be on in the second half, is always sniffing around the tryline and off any breaks, and the price looks too big.

Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting, GMT 19:35 Edinburgh v Scarlets, Edinburgh +3 evens Stanjames, Scarlets scratch (not for long) in Williamhill, BBC Scotland

This game started out around scratch in most bookmakers but has drifted out in many places, with most money coming for the Scarlets it seems. You can see why fairly easily – Edinburgh have been on an awful five match losing streak, getting hammered everywhere but at Leinster. Morale at the club is very low, and Bradley can’t be long for the chop. Both teams are playing ropey centre combinations here, but Stoddart, North and Williams are the better backline, with Thomas edging young Harry Leonard too at fly-half. Both packs are even enough, and Edinburgh have a decent backrow which could help them win this.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Edinburgh might nick a result here. Bradley will have watched his fellow countrymen from leinster demolish the Scarlets pack with lots of high balls and box kicks giving forwards time to hump it up field shunt them off any ruck ball, and he has a decent enough pack to do that. North should get close to a try but he’s very questionable defensively and Visser could get alot of change out of him. There’s also an Italian ref on his way over, and two Scottish linesmen. With the market moves, the customary Friday night madness, and an Italian with the crowd on his back we couldn’t back a thin enough Scarlets side here even at scratch. We’re not going to tell you to back Edinburgh on the handicap, but we’re having a few bets here.

We’re waiting for one line to come out before we put it up here, lest the bookies be hanging around and adjust their prices accordingly. So we’ll have a good main bet for you, come back today around lunchtime. Decent Prices didn’t materialise so our only bet on this game is Visser anytime try.

Tryscorer punt-In Visser we trust– he’s 7/4 in skybet (evens in Boylesports!) for anytime tryscorer. If you haven’t joined yet, you’ve a free tenner with no deposit through this skybet link, and this could get you started for the weekend. As above, North is dodgy defensively, they have a rickety looking centre combination, and there should be holes in the Scarlets backline win or lose. Visser is always there or thereabouts at Murrayfield so well worth a punt even if you already have an account.

Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting, GMT 19:45 Munster v Zebre, Munster – 26 Boylesports, Zebre +28 Ladbrokes

You couldn’t back Zebre for obvious reasons unless they were +40, so let’s get that out of the way early. Munster haven’t beaten a 26 point handicap all season; in two comparable fixtures 20 points was the margin at home to Dragons, and 13 at home to Treviso. The team has alot of changes, most notably being – Felix Jones in his first game back from injury at full back, Duncan Williams at scrum half who has passing issues, JJ Hanrahan making his first senior start (watch this lad, definitely one for the future) and most of the senior players getting a rest. But there’s quality there to replace them and the likes of O’Dea and Zebo should get on the scoresheet.

In looking back since the start of the season, only Edinburgh and the Dragons have beaten this handicap against Zebre, and both of those games had Zebre stronger than they are tomorrow. Munster traditionally have a slow enough game following round two of the Heineken cup, but we’re pretty much unanimous that they’re going to demolish this Zebre side tomorrow. There’s no rain to hide behind for Zebre with clear skies forecast, and Zebre have rested all of their quality players. If the Dragons and Edinburgh can beat this handicap against a relatively strong Zebre side, then a Munster side after a bonus point with people playing for places and a good bench can beat it too.

Rabo Pro12 rugby betting – Main bet Take the Munster -26 in Boylesports or Stanjames before it disappears later today.

Tryscorer prices – none appeal

More to follow

Don’t forget to head over to our new Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute.

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting Review

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting review

It was another cracking weekend at Dropkickrugby towers, with only Saracens 1-12 and Gloucester on the handicap failing out of all our main bets.

First up – A couple of quick thoughts on the weekend games looking towards the next few weeks, and the rest of the Heineken cup;

Exeter gave up most of the Clermont tries off turnovers and looked tired after the Leinster game. They’ve been guilty this season of knocking on alot and losing control of the ball and it’s something they really need to work on in training. The turnovers made Clermont look better than they are, and gifting them countless turnovers is something Leinster won’t do.

Clermont have us flummoxed. Possibly due to Exeter having gifted them so many turnovers, and not bothering defending for alot of this game, we can’t assess where they’re at just yet. There’s a concern there that they’ve not got too much depth, and if Leinster can get a full side out, you’d marginally fancy them to mug Clermont down there in that next game, which is a 15:00 Sunday kick off (edit, changed from 1230). At that time of day it’ll be very difficult for them to build that cauldron-like atmosphere and they could get complacent after an exaggerated result at Exeter and Leinster’s recent low-key form. One to ponder.

Hernandez and Germain back for Racing metro will change their recent poor form in the TOP14. One of the best passes we’ve ever seen by Hernandez heading into touch to Imhoff for Racing’s only try v Sarries; it was an absolutely glorious one handed quarterback pinpointer. Hernandez was at the heart of most good things Racing did, just not enough to get us into the 1-12 range, losing by 17.

Saracens failed to get the bonus point here, and the daft decision to play this in Brussels surely contributed to that. That missed point could prove hugely costly and there’s alot more to come in this pool. Racing will want to beat them at home – these two have history, and Munster will surely improve. They’re in the mix, but they’re missing something.

We’re still not convinced by Munster– Penney’s gameplans are all over the place. They should improve though, and will be a match for Saracens in the next game. In both the Racing game and here, they seemed to be in two minds as to what tactics to play, and they only got real results when they went back to basics. Running defences from left to right with no straight running just doesn’t work against modern defences, and watching them in the first half was incredibly frustrating. It’s an old adage, but you have to earn the right to go wide, and Munster weren’t doing that. A couple of other things were really annoying. Donnacha O’Callagahan was on the wing far too much when it should have been Zebo there; on three or four occasions in the first half Munster could have been away for a try but for Munster having O’Connell or O’Callaghan on the wing. And also – Keatley taking an unconscionable age with meaningless conversions in the final ten minutes, when a bonus point was absolutely essential, made very little sense. Where was Howlett? Or O’Connell, who both should have been screaming at him to ‘hurry the f*ck up’! Had O’Gara been there that ball would have been placed and kicked in 20 seconds at most. Keatley is not to blame here, and was a major factor in them getting the essential bonus point, but they were lucky.
Alot of things are pointing to new coach Penny not directing his players properly, nor allowing them to think for themselves. For all of O’Gara’s faults, his brain will be needed if Munster are to defy expectations this year.

Leinster are missing the likes of a Brad Thorn of Nathan Hines in the second row. The jury is still out on their chances for the season but I woudn’t be backing them for the title just yet. Plenty to come back from injury though, and there is only nine weekends in the Heineken cup so once they can get a fully fit side for those remaining seven weekends, they can beat anyone.

Scarlets are out, and probably won’t be in the Rabo mix next year, but they’ll want some revenge on Clermont at home. Can’t rule out a shock there. In the games versus Exeter, you’d fancy Exeter who will still have motivation for a first Heineken cup win and maybe an Amlin qualifying spot.

Leicester really surprised a few of us with the character they showed against the Ospreys, coming back from ten points down and then going after the late bonus point. Serious power rugby and you couldn’t write them off. Their first try the best of the weekend possibly? The likes Goneva and Morris, who we’ve questioned on here before, really stepped up, and it was one of Toby Flood’s best games in years (who is nailed on for England in the Autumn internationals surely)? And an honourable mention for Steve Mafi, who’s drum we bang consistently on dropkickrugby.com – he’s an absolute class act and it’s no coincidence he seems to play most of the Tiger’s big games. Tigers are more than double Quins’ price in places and it has to be only due to the tough pool they’re in. If you fancy them to get out, the 22/1 in Ladbrokes is attractive. Squeak a four pointer away at the Ospreys who they play in round five, (when the Ospreys will likely be out after playing Toulouse home and away), then do Treviso at home and away for nine points total, beat Toulouse at home in the sixth round do or die in January, and they’re looking at 22 points, maybe 23 with a bonus at Treviso (and a possible home quarter final). If they lose to Ospreys but get a losing bonus, they’ll still be on 20 points which is usually enough. For us this win over the Ospreys was the most impressive performance of the weekend and Leicester are our new dark horse for this tournament.

Ospreys once again lack necessary bottle, and seem to need teams to fall into complacency before they can win big games. Lacking leadership in a big way, you just couldn’t see them out of this pool.

Toulouse have been making a massive habit of pulling games out of the bag in the second half; they’re one of the best teams for half time full time punts and we’ll be following that market in a big way for the next few months with Toulouse. They failed to get a bonus here and that could cost them dearly when it comes to overall seedings early next year – they were looking like rumbling over until Tolufua stupidly (and blatantly) tip tackled a maul defender, when they were 7 metres out in the last three minutes.

Treviso won’t win the Rabo, but they will mug someone at home this year in Europe. They have a good side and my money will likely be on them mugging a casual Ospreys side.

Toulon trundle on and might be a decent bet to get to the final. Along with Quins they should be top seeds looking at the pool situations. We still think their focus this year is the TOP14 after last year’s disappointment, so the jury is still out a little. For all their millions and star names if you look at them versus the likes of Toulouse, you feel like Toulouse have more quality depth overall.

Cardiff are out, but they’ll win a few games yet. Don’t take this form as indicative for the Rabo though, as they’ll not have this many internationals playing for the rest of the season in the league, and they’re very threadbare depth-wise.

Montpellier didn’t get a bonus at home to Sale and that’s likely the end of their challenge this year. TOP14 concentration from here on in for them.

Sale played well here even though they lost by 15 points, and if nothing else, these past two Heineken cup rounds will have given them alot of confidence for a first win in the Premiership. Cipriani, fair play to him, is stepping up, and he’ll save them from relegation most probably. There’s alot of quality here and they just need to gel. Expect a few wins between now and Christmas and a Wasps-like scramble next Spring.

Northampton managed a losing bonus point in Castres but in truth were very lucky to get it, with a very fortunate bounce and some calamity Castres defending letting Pisi in for a try. Aside from that, both Kockott and Teulet both missed some very easy kicks that would have taken Saints well out of losing bonus point range. It’s not looking great for Saints then overall but things could improve for them.

Castres will likely win their home games bar Ulster but look very unlikely to get out of this group. They’re solid if unspectacular and their Heineken cup focus has probably reached it’s peak – they’ll concentrate on the league from here on more than likely, and all Ulster have to hope for is that they’re in the TOP 6 places mix in France when they play them after Christmas.

Ulster did the needful away at Glasgow in awful conditions, and remain the only unbeaten side this season both in Europe and domestically. Ulster look on course for qualification, and the real question for them is whether they can pick up wins away at Castres and Northampton to get themselves a home quarter final. One thing about Ulster – there’s alot of depth there generally and they can handle a few injuries, once they have Ferris for the big games. They’re a side on a mission this year after the awful Spence tragedy and it’s hard to find any fault so far.

Many of the bookmakers are revising their outright odds today (Monday) for the Challenge and Heineken cups and there’s a couple of markets we’re waiting on before finishing this article.

More to follow…

Don’t forget to head on over to the rugby betting forum and give your two cents on this and all of the other games this weekend. There’s plenty of side picks and Baxter-like wisdom. We can’t see every decent punt this weekend – so come help your fellow punters out.

Munster v Edinburgh (& Sunday’s best)- Heineken cup rugby betting

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Munster v Edinburgh, Sunday 12 45 pm GMT Skysports

By Thomond2006

This Pool 1 clash sees Munster face Edinburgh in a must win fixture for both teams. Edinburgh arrive to Limerick having been embarrassed at home to Saracens in a 45-0 whitewash while Munster lost to a limited Racing Metro side in terrible conditions in Paris.
Munster are without Ronan O’Gara so Ian Keatley will start at flyhalf with Denis Hurley coming in at 15. Donncha O’Callaghan also returns and his physical presence was sorely missed last weekend. Edinburgh have made five changes and will be without Greig Laidlaw but Greig Tonks and Ben Atiga come back into the side while Geoff Cross and Netani Talei are among the forwards.
This game will see a serious backlash from one of these sides, logic would suggest it will be Munster who come out strongest, given the match is at Thomond Park. While their loss in Paris is a blow to their hopes for progression, it is far from a fatal one. At the same time, Edinburgh getting nilled at home almost eliminates them already.

Nothing is expected from Edinburgh (bookies’ spreads reflect this) and all the pressure seems to be on Munster, so expect Edinburgh to play an open style without fear, the pack selected looks to be geared towards expansive play rather than trench warfare. Weather permitting, this could be a high scoring encounter as both sides have defensive frailities and have in form wingers in Tim Visser and Simon Zebo respectively, both players with impressive try scoring records. In the last four meetings of the sides, over 40 points has been scored, so perhaps we can expect a similar high scoring contest.

The general handicap is Munster -14, which seems about right. If you want to back Munster, it’s best available at -13 with Ladbrokes while Edinburgh +15 is widely available, including Bet365 and SkyBet. If you put a gun to my head, I would back Munster -14 but not with much confidence. If you like betting on margins, Munster 11-20 at 5/2 on PaddyPower looks decent.
In terms of tryscorer bets, Tim Visser anytime tryscorer at 5/2 stands out (SkyBet). For a player with 8 tries from 6 starts this season, it’s not a bad price!

*** Edit, with Visser out now aswell as Laidlaw and Chunk, and with a novice ten at the helm, and Munster having all the motivation, need and hunger for a bonus point, the -13 available still in Ladbrokes is our main bet for this game. Bradley is talking about rolling the dice. With fair weather forecast, its do or die for munster. As long as Wayne Barnes isn’t in a disruptive mood, we should be set here***

In the other games, we just can’t find a bet in the Leicester game. Leicester should win, and the 1-12 is tempting going on past results between these two, but it’s too tight a price to back.

With Cardiff/Toulon, there are no total try prices up yet, but that’s what we’re waiting on. There should be plenty here. Its hard to see Cardiff winning as they don’t have a scrum, and Toulon have an excellent one. There should be loads of tries here so keep an eye out for markets close to kick off. Toulon should end up winning out in the end as long as they keep their concentration, and Steffon Armitage is 9/2 biggest in skybet anytime tryscorer – and is good value here to get his name on the scoresheet.

Monty should account for Sale without too much trouble, fielding a full strength lineup against an even weaker Sale starting 15 that’s missing Gray and twentytwopee. With rain forecast, and Sale having a bit of motivation having got the win last week, its probably not a great idea to invest too heavily in the handicaps. But Gorgodze anytime try is biggest 4/1 in Paddypower, and the Geogian behemoth is guaranteed to come close to dotting down as part of a full strength Monty side.

Don’t forget to head on over to the rugby betting forum and give your two cents on this and all of the other games this weekend. There’s plenty of side picks and Baxter-like wisdom. We can’t see every decent punt this weekend – so come help your fellow punters out.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Doug Howlett (capt), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mick Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Felix Jones
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Stuart McInally, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Rob McAlpine, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Tom Brown.

Heineken cup rugby betting – Saracens v Racing Metro, Exeter v Clermont

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Saracens v Racing Metro 3:40pm Skysports, Saracens -6 Stanjames, Racing +9 Skybet

Last week when Edinburgh coach Mick Bradley said Racing were a bit one dimensional he was asking for trouble and he duly got it. Saracens were full value for the 45 points (we had them -3 on Dropkickrugby, if only we had been paying attention to Bradley, we could have had -18 at 6/1!), and when Edinburgh realised even the losing bonus point was a lost cause, they lost all interest. Good BP win for the Saraboks (as the French are calling them), Edinburgh probably out of the cup for this year.

Looking at Racing’s victory over Munster it’s fair to say that Munster were very unlucky. O’Connell’s try not given, messy pass, mini charge down, kick through, and Racing awarded a try that shouldn’t have been given. Had O’Conell’s try been given it is not too great a leap to say the game was Munster’s, even at that early stage. But Racing regrouped, played the conditions, and STILL should have lost the game but for Murray. So alot of things are saying that Racing are to be opposed here. And just when you feel confident to back Sarries on the handicap, McCall goes and picks Farrell again….

We’ve been saying it for months and we’ll say it again; but Farrell is off form hugely, and McCall is continuously wedging him in anywhere he can (outside centre here), possibly at the behest of the RFU? What was wrong with Tomkins Mr. McCall? He opened the scoring last week, and is a far better centre! Anyway, the possible inclusion of Farrell is what held us back from taking the -4 that was available on Saracens early in the week. He lost them the game at Exeter, and he drew them the game against Leicester that they should have won. And in general his distribution has been rubbish. So we just can’t tell you to back the handicap here. The still available -6 is probably still value but nothing more than that for us. Of course, Racing could be French and not give a toss what happens here and duly get hammered, but after the win against Munster you just wouldn’t know – they should be French enough to look for a losing bonus point away from home at least.

Which brings us to Brussels. The money men at Saraboks ( that’s going to grow on me…) in their infinite wisdom decided not to play this at home in blighty, but in Belgium. God only knows why – are they expecting a load of Flemish fan boys to start buying Saracens shirts? It’s baffling how they just throw away their home advantage like it doesn’t matter. Racing’s fan base live 3 hours drive down the road and despite the 500 ticket allocation they got one has to assume that there will be cartloads more of them there than there would have been in England. And that will make a difference to them. There is now an elevated possibility of Saracens walking away from this game with a large dose of egg on their face, and i’d say the Saracens players are as aware of it as we are.

Racing are a defensive side and haven’t scored many tries since the start of the season. But Hernandez has been away at the rugby championship and is the kind of man that could help get them some scores here and unlock the best defence in the premiership. Many will remember the obdurate direness of Saracens v Leicester, and we could be looking at something similar here unless Racing are willing to run, and Farrell gets his passing and decision making back. Saracens will also miss the injured Joubert who is very important to their cause.

All of these happenings have me running scared from the Saracens handicap – the loss of Joubert, the loss of home advantage for no reason, and the possible loss of backline cohesion with the underperforming Farrell at 13 in such an important game. It is not the form pick and if I were on that team i’d be a little annoyed at the slight special treatment Farrell is getting. Plus if Hodgson gets injured Farrell can’t be counted on to get the kicks, and French teams playing in France (virtually) have chasing a losing bonus point loss built into their DNA. As Ron Burgundy once said, ‘it’s instinct’.

Too many things can go wrong for Saracens and there’s the spector of noise trading about the betting on this game – the handicap has moved from -4 to -9 and when that kind of thing happens caution is required. Somehow whenever the bookies have that much liability riding on a game something happens to get them back in the black. If Racing are due such a hammering why isn’t the handicap out at 14 or 15? Nigel Owens will be fair and won’t favour Saracens either. And lastly, don’t forget these two have history, with both winning away against each other the last time they met in the group stages.

It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly why we don’t like the handicap this week but we just don’t as a result of all of the above. If you’re already on it there’s more chance of it coming in than not, but we just don’t like it enough to put our cash on it.

So what are we backing?

Heineken cup Rugby – Main bet – Back Saracens 1-12 winning margin, best in bet365 at 8/5 (elsewhere biggest is 6/4 in Paddypower). Racing are probably going to kick alot and Farrell and Wyles in the backline are not the men to run ball back All black style, and they look a more defensive selection than Goode and Tomkins. Saracens have averaged one try for, and one try against in the Premiership so far this season, and they’re scoring on average 21 points, and conceding roughly 14. Assuming Racing Metro are up for this they won’t be afraid of Saracens having beaten them before, and with plenty of local support and the win behind them last week (did you see them jumping around with delight at the final whistle?), it would be a surprise to see anything like last week in Edinburgh. Saracens have the bench and superiority to get the win, and Racing have some quality there too in the likes of Germain and Matadigo. Saracens could win by more than 12, but we see it as unlikely. Medium stakes.

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Exeter v Clermont 6pm GMT Skysports, Exeter +7 Stanjames, Clermont -4 Boylesports

Alot of us will remember as children, when a bully picked on us one time too many and we hit back, landing that first punch, then freezing and asking ourselves- what now! I’d imagine that’s something akin to what Exeter feel going into this game tomorrow. They mixed it with the champs last week, and now they have to back it up or be eaten alive.

The world class Hines being suspended for Clermont is huge for Exeter, and that gives them a big leg up in the scrum and the lineout. Cudmore and Pierre start, with Jacquet on the bench to complete the underwhelming Clermont lock trio. The lineout and scrum should at least get parity for Exeter here. We rate Hines as so important that had he been starting, we’d have backed the Clermont -4.

Exeter name pretty much the same side as last week and will have the same togetherness, cohesion and commitment they showed against Leinster. They have already beaten Saracens and Quins at home (Saracens with a bit of luck) and it’s very hard to see them getting a hiding on their own patch. Clermont still have that sumptuous looking backline from last week, but their bench is a bit thin and it’s a risk expecting them to hold a side like Exeter out if they’re home and hosed with ten to go. They’ve also had alot of slow starts this season, and Exeter are going to come out full of confidence looking to win this. They played a lot of ball against Quins and i’m expecting them to do the same here.

As above, we’re not crazy on the handicap for either team – this one could go either way with Exeter one of the form sides in Europe, and Clermont having a reputation that precedes them. Rather than back the handicap there’s a decent 10/11 shout that we spotted that looks far better value. Both Clermont and Exeter have been scoring freely in their leagues this season, and both have scored 18 tries a piece so far (Exeter only second to Quins in the tryscoring stakes). On the other hand, they’ve both been conceding too, with Exeter having had 13 tries put past them and Clermont 11. If Exeter are to beat Clermont they’ll have to score tries and vice versa for Clermont. With good weather about, a Clermont backline dripping with class, and an Exeter side that just got a try bonus point at home to Quins, we’re expecting tries.

Heineken cup rugby betting main bet – We’re dodging the handicap and taking the over 3.5 total tries available at evens in Sportingbet, 10/11 in skybet.

Head on over to the rugby betting forum and give your two cents.

Scarlets v Leinster – Heineken cup rugby betting

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Scarlets v Leinster, 135 pm GMT Skysports. Leinster -3 Boylesports, Scarlets +5 skybet

The first time that Scarlets came up against a team that was really trying this season- they lost; the ospreys beat them in Llanelli by 23-16 and should probably have won by alot more, with a bizarre try at the death salvaging the Scarlet’s losing bonus point. The Ospreys won that game with a hugely superior set of forwards, and some no nonsense backplay, and a structured gameplan. Leinster are likely to bring the same formula on Saturday, and it’s a brave man who puts his money on the Scarlet’s and their five point start.

Forget about the opening game of the season where the Scarlets beat Leinster with a 25 point margin to spare; it was a hugely inexperienced Leinster side that day, and manchild North had open spaces to run amok in. Since then Leinster have had middling form, and have struggled to get into gear, sneaking past Exeter last week by the skin of their teeth. They also had a tough outing at Connacht, where a couple of late tries made a great Connacht victory an emphatic one. So what did both of those recent games have in common? Both times Leinster underestimated their opponents, and in both games the opposition packs were rabid – closing down space and contesting the breakdown. Can Scarlets do that is the real question here? And the answer is ‘no, probably not’. For a few reasons, but mainly because they don’t have the players to execute that sort of gameplan.

Yes they lived with Clermont for the first 20 minutes last week, but they were torn apart when Clermont got going, red card or no red card, and Clermont have been starting slow since the start of the season. When the Ospreys put it up to them recently they had no answer. When the Dragons were putting it up to them a few weeks ago it took another freak try to knock the stuffing of the Dragons. And last season they had a few opportunities at home to get to the Rabo playoffs and they let each one of them get away because their opposition wanted it more and they weren’t hungry enough and had no belief. Which is a shame because the Scarlets have the potential to be a great team, and could have been a breath of fresh air in last year’s playoffs.

On the face of it this game is hard to call, and that’s because of recent leinster form. But when you make the leap and realise that this is the biggest game of Leinster’s season so far, it gets a bit easier. When you look at the opposing units, it gets easier still – better halfbacks (Priestland has gone completely off the boil, and bottles his kicks in big games at times), better scrum, better backs (especially now Davies – who BOD and Darcy have had trouble with before- is out), slightly better lineout, better front row, better centre combination (assuming Darcy is indeed fit), and better back row! Keep Fenby and North quiet and they go a long way to winning the game.

So the only real betting decision here is whether Leinster will have more hunger? On past viewing of the Scarlets, when crunch time comes (and this is crunch time, make no mistake about it) other teams generally have more hunger; the defending champions will be starving.

We’ve been confident all week here of a Leinster win for all of the above reasons, but we’ve been trying to decide whether the handicap is the right bet. We’re taking it on as there is simply a big gulf in class between the two sides. The Heineken cup IS Leinster’s season, and lose here and they’re probably out of the running to top the group. The weather is set to be fine here and we’re not even thinking about the 1-12 winning margin as the price is too short, and Leinster, if they’re up for it, could win by more. If they get a try or two they’ll smell blood and go after the bonus.

Heineken cup betting, main bet; Take the leinster -3 only still going in Boylesports, while it’s still available. Leinster won’t want a score between them with five to go as Scarlets have been finishing strongly all season, and no doubt Joe Schmidt has noticed this too.

Tryscorer punt – Sean Cronin is a very big value 15/2 in skybet (5/1 elsewhere) to get a try anytime. Cronin starts here and he’ll get about 60 minutes before Strauss comes on for some serious impact. By starting Cronin we can take it as an indication that Schmidt is giving the Scarlet scrum very little respect, and sacrificing scrummaging ability for lethality in the loose and open play. Cronin is an absolute tank at full pelt, and leinster will use him to try get over the line. He’s as fast as a centre and twice as hard to stop, and with all of the big names on the field, the Scarlets won’t be watching him. There’s a free bet in Skybet for anyone not with them, and this is this is your free punt for the weekend ! He tends to knock on a bit but it’s dry tomorrow….

Don’t forget to head on over to the rugby betting forum and give your two cents on this and all of the other games this weekend. We can’t see every decent punt this weekend – so come help your fellow punters out.

Heineken cup rugby betting – Glasgow v Ulster, Castres v Northampton

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Glasgow v Ulster, Ulster -5 williamhill, Glasgow +6 paddypower. 8pm Skysports

The handicap has moved out on this game from -4 in places to -6 almost everywhere. Ulster have named as strong a side as possible with Ferris unavailble through injury still. Last week’s bonus point hero Pienaar is starting at 9 inside Paddy Jackson, and recent wrecking ball Nick Williams is back at eight .

Glasgow are a side crippled with injuries, with Lamont a further absentee after incurring a facial injury last week against Northampton. We were on the Glasgow +13.5 last week, and we were a tad lucky with Myler missing so many kicks. But the game didn’t pan out how we expected at all and on balance we still think it was the right call, and it was surprising how easily Glasgow completely capitulated either side of half time when winning 15-0. That will have affected them psychologically no doubt, because with very little effort Northampton were suddenly ahead in the game. However Glasgow got their act together in the final 30 minutes, and would probably have got a losing bonus point had they had any decent replacement backs to come on (but they didn’t).

So what does that mean for this week? Maybe nothing, but Glasgow will likely look to keep it tight this week because they won’t beat Ulster on current form if they start flinging it about. If they choose keeping it tight as their game-plan then the conditions (heavy rain all day Thursday, and likely more Friday) may help them stay in touch with arguably THE form team in Europe aside from Toulon. Ulster have had one of their best season starts ever, and the temptation is to lump gung ho into the handicap, especially with Glasgow’s injuries. That temptation has obviously gotten hold of some people with most bookies taking money for Ulster and thus pushing the handicaps out. For us the -4 was a decent pick and the -5/6 is probably marginally still the right call but we’re leaving it for a few reasons and looking elsewhere.

Ulster have been on a great run, and the all singing and all dancing stuff has to come to an end sometime. There are only two teams in the past two seasons that have done Glasgow up there (not in their new stadium Scotsoun mind you) by more than six points and that was Leinster by seven and Toulouse by 12 (this points to the 1-12 margin but the prices around for this are awful and Ulster should be going after the bonus point). So Glasgow don’t get hammered up there often and as mentioned last week they’re a consistent Rabo side. If they lose this they’re out of the Heineken cup so they’ll fight tooth and nail and give Ulster a hard game. No doubt Ulster are the better side but once they’re ahead it’s not too far a stretch of the imagination to see Glasgow getting a late score to ruin the handicap if Ulster are indeed ahead, and there’s a bit of quality like Harley and Barclay on the bench to give them at least some impetus in the second half. And they’ll need every bit of their bench with just a five day turnaround after the effort at Franklins Gardens.

Instead of backing the handicap on our main bet, we’re taking a different angle.

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Main bet – Ulster halftime/fulltime is biggest 10/11 in Paddypower and bet365. The reasoning here is that Ulster are the better side and usually start fast. This bet covers you if Ulster hit their straps like so many expect, or if they win both halves of a tight arm-wrestle. Ulster should be ahead by half time and the poor conditions should help whoever is ahead at half time stay ahead. It’s the same price as the -5 and -6 available, and guards against the close result or late Glasgow score. It has it’s flaws, but Ulster’s power and form should have them ahead by half time and it’s better than the handicap for us. And put it this way, if Ulster are barely ahead by half time then the belief that Glasgow might get, in an effort to salvage their Heineken cup prospects may mean Ulster don’t beat the handicap anyway.

Tryscorer bets – Once again Paddy power have money back specials running this weekend. The first is ‘money back if one leg of a four handicap acca lets you down‘, and the second is ‘money back on any losing tryscorer bets if a forward gets the first try in this game.
Look no further than Nick Williams here who is 16/5 anytime try. He should probably backed anyway with the form he’s in and the fact he’s the man Ulster leave the ball to when close to the opposition line. If it doesn’t come in, the conditons say there’s a better than average chance a forward gets the first try for either side getting you your money back.

John Afoa is 40/1 for the first try in Paddypower, and well worth a small few quid for first try – he has a few tries already this season, and is usually one of the first receivers after a break has been made ( as long as it’s not TOO speedy a break!), or first receiver from a ruck when close into the opposition line. With the Glasgow defence no doubt on alert for Williams, Afoa could make inroads. The 17/2 antime try is too small to interest us.

Don’t forget if you’re not already with Paddypower you can get E£250 in staggered free bets by joining through our blue links rather than if you joined up directly.

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Castres -3 paddypower v Northampton +4,Skybet. 8pm Skysports interactive

Jim Mallinder has made complaints this week about the five day turnaround they face after defeating Glasgow at home last week, and he’s completely right to be having a moan. This has always made me shake my head, furrow my brow, and ask why?! Surely in the interests of fairness, the Sunday teams should play the following weekend on a Saturday at the earliest, and the Friday or Saturday teams should get the following Friday? I’m sure there’s some rubbish reason for it but it is an undoubted disadvantage to some teams, and the playing field is simply not level as we come into this game tonight.

Castres have had a seven day rest versus Northampton’s five, and Castres are at home. Advantage there at least to Castres. There has been some movement against Castres in the market, with many bookmakers moving from -4 to -3, seemingly due to some injury announcements, but i’m not sure that’s the correct sentiment. They’re missing Dulin and Evans but Evans hasn’t been all that great and they can get by without Dulin. First choice halves Tales and Kockott start here and the rest of the team for the most part would grace a TOP 14 home game for them – so they’re seemingly treating this seriously. Castres are scoring tries at home this year, and just recently beat a strong Clermont side at home by three points (should have been six with a last minute penalty miss), and coming from behind to win the game too. They had the better of Northampton here a few years ago by a 21 point margin when both teams were probably a bit stronger than they are now. They lsot big to Ulster last week but it was a much weakened side and take awy Pienaar’s injury time try and you’ve a more repectable looking score. They also played much better towards the end of the game when their better players came on.

Northampton name a similar side to last week, with Myler starting at full back and Lamb at ten. Myler can play full back, but it’s obviously not his strongest point. He has been pretty much first choice ten this season for Northampton and Lamb starting will upset things a bit. We’re still not convinced by Artemyev, and (Saints fans won’t like our saying this) Northampton’s tendency to pop up in the scrum will be scrutinised more down in Toulouse than it is in the Premiership, which should give Robocop and Kockott some decent penalty opportunities. Kockott has also been dynamite this season and Dickson will have a tough time containing his class. As usual the Northampton bench is quite light (May aside) and you wonder when they’re going to start investing in a strong squad like most big European sides have. There could be a funding issue there but it’s a glaring weakness of theirs in big games.

A weakened Glasgow side came out of the blocks last week and easily put two tries on Northampton. If you get a chance to watch Lamont’s try, you’ll see three Saints players just falling off him, with Artemyev the last to barely make an effort. We’re not convinced by the Northampton defence, and we’re not convinced by their league form either despite their current position at the top of the league. The only side they’ve beaten that’s of real quality was Exeter at home by three points, and of the top 8 Premiership rugby teams they’ve conceded more points than each of them (130) except Wasps in eighth (145). Also on the try count of the top 8, they’ve conceded 12 tries so far, which is only superior to Exeter and Wasps (13). Northampton are scoring alot of tries (third in the league with 16), but against what kind of defences?

When you align the above tendency to concede scores, the defensive uncertainty Myler may bring at full back, recent history against Castres, Myler missing his kicks lately and the fact that Castres are unbeaten at home and winning well there…. there’s only one pick for us on this one and we believe the market has moved in our favour.

Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Main bet – Castres -3 in paddypower, ladbrokes or bet365.. Castres have named a serious side, and taking all of the above into account they should win this one with a bit to spare.

Possible Tryscorer bet – If you’re looking for a tryscorer punt, look no further than Kockott at biggest 6/1 anytime tryscorer in Ladbrokes. He’s already got three so far this season, he makes this team tick, and he’ll probably see more ball than anyone else on the field.

Good luck!

Head on over to the rugby betting forum and give your two cents.

Challenge Cup Rugby Betting round 2

Gloucester v Bordeaux-Begles – Challenge Cup Rugby Betting, 1945 pm on Sky

Bordeaux gave us all a nice win last weekend with the London Irish -4 and London Irish ht/ft coming in comfortably. We all got the jump here because the bookies obviously hadn’t looked at the teams, but we had. Like we said, there’s always opportunity in this competition if you do your research. This week it’s slightly different and they’ve done their homework (so far), with the handicap opening up early this morning for this game at -24 in Bet365; they’re into -26 there already, with Ladbrokes as big as -27.

Gloucester name a strong team, with the only really notable missing man being Freddie Burns, with Billy 12trees at 10. Fifty one times capped All Black Jimmy Cowan gets the start here at scrum half and it would be no surprise to see him get a score here against a very weak Bordeaux defence. The Bordeaux side is as weak as it was last weak, but the bench is stronger – with a couple of pack first teamers floating around, and starting ten Lopez.

Gloucester need a bonus point here to keep up with London Irish and we reckon they’ll get it and then some. The weather is good despite a smidgen of rain early in the day, and a little yesterday. Twelvetrees’ sometimes-wayward kicking prevents us from considering the bigger handicaps here, but he should get enough to take us over the line.

Challenge cup betting Main bet

– Take the Gloucester -25, the lowest still available in SKybet. We’d go so far as to say take the -26 if you can’t get -25 but the -27 is to be left alone – don’t settle if you’re only with Ladbrokes and noone else. Despite the semi-decent bench, Bordeaux are already out of this competition with that selection, and the only question for Gloucester is how many they can put on them.

Oddly enough Bwin currently have Gloucester half time/fulltime at 15/13, which is obviously a big mistake (1/20 elsewhere). But if you have an account, lump into it and try to fight them voiding your bet.

Agen v Bath – no main bet. A decent Bath side probably shouldn’t be trusted in Europe to beat a handicap that started at -9 and is now at -12. Agen have a win from their first game so they’d be mad not to put a bit of effort in here. Plus they have one or two first teamers in the starting 15 and bench. The only possible punt we could find was the highest scoring half being the second at biggest 5/6 in Ladbrokes – again, Agen SHOULD try to keep this competitive for a while at least. Weather is good, so it should open up for either side in the second half. Very small stakes.

This will be a rolling thread for the weekend with games being added to the top of this post as and when we can. Of course the main European games are the Heineken cup this weekend, but for those willing to delve deep into team news and squad depth there is always massive opportunity for profit in this competition.

There is a forum thread set up for the challenge cup round 2 here so head on over there with any thoughts for the weekend, and to read those of other members.

More to follow