This weekend European Professional Club Rugby serves up another treat as Round 4, the final offering before a Christmas break, sees rematches of the fixtures from last weekend, with plenty of scores to settle.
Saracens’ clash with Clermont Auvergne hit the headline first for being postponed and then for the defending champions being on the wrong end of a significant drubbing, while Ospreys’ 43-32 triumph over Northampton Saints will likely go down in Champions Cup folklore after an enthralling encounter.
Ulster v Harlequins (Pool 1)
Ulster will aim to assert a degree of pressure on Pool 1 runaway leaders La Rochelle as they kick off Round 4 on Friday night with Harlequins the guests at Ravenhill.
Ulster’s hopes of reaching the Champions Cup last eight were boosted with a hard-fought 17-5 victory over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop – and another defeat for the Premiership side would see them with four defeats from four.
Montpellier v Glasgow (Pool 3)
Glasgow Warriors’ search for a first Champions Cup victory extends to Round 4 as they visit the Altrad Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on Montpellier.
The Top 14 side were 29-22 winners in Scotland last weekend and triumph for Montpellier is a must if they are to keep pace with Leinster Rugby and Exeter Chiefs ahead of them in Pool 3.
Benetton Treviso v Scarlets (Pool 5)
Scarlets will seek to boost their chances of making the knockout stages on the Champions Cup when they travel to the Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Saturday, hunting back-to-back wins against Benetton Treviso.
The Welsh region collected a 33-28 victory in Llanelli last weekend, their first triumph of the tournament, which pulled them within five points of Pool leaders RC Toulon and a bonus-point win in Italy could see Scarlets apply pressure on the three-times Champions Cup winners.
Leinster Rugby v Exeter Chiefs (Pool 3)
Leinster Rugby will move a step closer to the final eight in the Champions Cup on Saturday should they complete the double over reigning Aviva Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs when the pair lock horns at the Aviva Stadium.
The Irish province ran out 18-8 winners in a fiercely-contested clash in Devon last weekend and with Leinster already six points clear at the head of Pool 3, victory on Saturday could see them all but seal a knockout berth.
Racing 92 v Castres Olympique (Pool 4)
After clinching an unexpected win, Castres Olympique travel to Racing 92 for an all-Top 14 clash in the south of France, with Pool 4 standing as one of the most open groups in the Champions Cup.
Triumph last weekend means Castres Olympique moved within four points of Pool leaders Munster Rugby, with Leicester Tigers and Racing 92 just one point behind and Castres’ French rivals will be determined to right their wrongs from last time out.
Bath Rugby v RC Toulon (Pool 5)
Three-time European champions RC Toulon could pull away at the Pool 5 summit on Saturday evening as they travel to the West Country of England to face Bath at the Recreation Ground.
Toulon left it late at the Stade Mayol last weekend, clinching a 24-20 triumph in the dying stages of their encounter and Bath, just three points behind the French heavyweights, will be desperate to go one step further in front of their faithful crowd.
Wasps v La Rochelle (Pool 1)
La Rochelle will come close to securing a place in the last eight of the Champions Cup on Sunday as they visit Coventry’s Ricoh Arena to face Wasps, who have just one win from their opening three fixtures.
French side La Rochelle claimed an emphatic 49-29 win on home soil last time around and already boast a seven-point lead at the head of Pool 1, meaning defeat for Ulster against Harlequins – albeit unlikely – would mean the Top 14 giants would wrap up the group this weekend.
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens (Pool 2)
Saracens versus Clermont Auvergne in a rematch of last season’s Champions Cup final was always to be the headline of Round 3, but it became more so as the match was initially postponed on Sunday due to snow, only to be played on Monday evening before a sparse crowd, where the Top 14 giants ran riot, claiming a 46-14 victory – a heaviest defeat in Europe for the defending champions.
Alivereti Raka claimed the fastest hat-trick of tries in 20 years as Clermont Auvergne seized control of Pool 2 and Saracens must right their wrongs if they are to regain control of the group as they travel to France on Sunday.
Ospreys v Northampton Saints (Pool 2)
Saracens’ defeat and an impressive victory over Northampton Saints brought Ospreys back into Pool 2, with the Welsh region just six points behind leaders Clermont Auvergne as they rematch with the Midlands club at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
In a dramatic affair last weekend, Ospreys took a 43-8 lead, only for Northampton Saints to fight back to 43-32 in a thrilling continental encounter, but the Premiership club travel to Wales without a head coach, as the defeat signalled the end of over a decade at the club for head coach Jim Mallinder.
Leicester Tigers v Munster Rugby (Pool 4)
Sunday’s final fixture sees Munster Rugby travel to Welford Road to face Leicester Tigers with an opportunity to extend their lead at the Pool 4 summit, where they already hold a four-point lead over second-place Castres Olympique.
Irish province Munster claimed a comfortable 33-10 win in Limerick last weekend and their trip to the Midlands comes at a crucial time, with a significant chance to move within a small margin of a quarter-final berth in the Champions Cup.