Heineken Cup Betting Tips

Heineken-Cup-logo-1By Mark Rawlinson

The European Rugby Union season gets underway on Friday with the first round of fixtures in the Heineken Cup.

24 clubs from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy will battle it out over the next eight months to become kings of Europe.

Top 14 club Toulon go into the campaign as defending champions after they beat fellow French side Clermont in the final last May.

Ulster v Leicester (Friday)

The big game on Friday evening sees English Premiership champions Leicester Tigers make the trip to Belfast to face Ulster, runners up in last season’s RaboDirect Pro 12 league.

Both these sides reached the quarter finals last season and will fancy themselves to get out of Pool 5 with Montpellier looking the only real threat in the group.

Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has made three changes to his starting XV with flyer Tommy Bowe, outside-centre Darren Cave and Roger Wilson all coming in.

Leicester have also made three changes with Miles Benjamin, Dan Bowden and Geoff Parling all being recalled to Richard Cockerill’s side.

Ulster are the pre-match favourites with the bookies, Sportingbet providing the best odds of 8/15. A number of outlets, including Coral, are offering prices of 7/4 on a Leicester win.

You can watch this match live from 8pm on Sky Sports 1.

Elsewhere in Pool 3 on Friday night, Saracens face Connacht and Toulouse face Zebre. You can watch all these matches vie the red button on Sky Sports.

Ospreys v Leinster (Saturday)

The pick of the action on Saturday sees 2011 and 2012 Heineken Cup winners Leinster visit Swansea to take on fellow RaboDirect side Ospreys.

Ulster will be aiming to improve on their disappointing quarter-final exit from the competition last season but could be without former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll who is rated at 50-50 due to a calf injury.

Forward Ryan Jones could be fit for the Ospreys after missing the last few games with a shoulder injury.

It was an exciting encounter when the two sides met each other just over four weeks ago in the Pro 12 league, ending in a 29-29 draw. And the betting stakes couldn’t be any closer going into this match, with Paddy Power and Stan James offering evens on both sides.

There’s plenty more action taking place earlier on in the day as Edinburgh host Muster in another all-RaboDirect clash from 1:35pm and then at 3:40pm Harlequins face Llanelli Scarlets in Pool 4.

All these matches are live on Sky Sports 2, with Saturday’s other three Heineken Cup games live via the red button.

Toulon v Glasgow (Sunday)

Glasgow will be hoping to bring their excellent start to their Pro 12 campaign into the Heineken Cup this season but face a tough task in the shape of defending champions Toulon.

Glasgow head the RaboDirect League with five wins from five but have generally struggled to adapt to the European competitions and face a Toulon side who are also top of their league.

The French side are big favourites for victory on Sunday, with Boylesports offering the best odds of 1/12. The best odds on a Glasgow win are provided by Stan James at 10/1.

The game is live on Sky Sports 2 from 3pm, immediately after Exeter Chiefs v Cardiff Blues, which kicks-off at 12:45pm. Then at 8pm, Racing Metro face Clermont in an all French Pool 4 tie, which is live on Sky Sports 3.

Don’t forget you can claim free bets with the Stan James mobile app by clicking HERE.