RUGBY UNION BETTING: Live On Sky Sports 3: 12:45
Llanelli Scarlets host London Irish at 12.45, Perpignan travel to Northampton and Toulouse face Harlequins at 3pm. William Hill‘s James Kennedy previews.
Llanelli Scarlets v London Irish – 12:45 live on Sky Sports 3
Llanelli have suffered back-to-back pummelings against Leinster and will be looking to make amends against a side that they have beaten in their last three Heineken Cup encounters including a memorable 27-25 victory at the Madejski Stadium this season.
Irish have gone from strength-to-strength since though and are asked to give up just four points on the handicap at 10/11 – a margin that looks very achievable given the injuries Scarlets continue to suffer.
Stephen Jones doesn’t make the fold after injury on New Years Eve, and he joins Mark Jones, Matthew Rees and Simon Easterby to name a few casualties on the sidelines meaning the likes of Morgan Stoddart (12/1 for first try), Sean Lamont (16/1) and Martin Roberts (20/1) will need to be at their destructive best in front of their home crowd.
Irish have Delon Armitage (16/1), Steffon Armitage (20/1), Elvis Seveali’i (14/1) and Ryan Lamb (25/1) all in the side and with Tom Homer (11/1) in such good form on the wing at the moment, Llanelli will do well to keep them at bay for much of the game.
Scarlets must win and win well to keep their dreams of qualification alive but you can be sure The Exiles will not want to give up ground to Leinster and even face the prospect of not going through should their next two games not go their way and a narrow winning margin of 6-10 points to the away side at 9/2 looks about right, while the same margin to the Scarlets is 7/1.
Irish should have too much for the home side who despite their best efforts may come up short again as they were outclassed twice by Leinster and until their host of injured internationals come back, the Heineken Cup dream looks to be over for another season and Irish can easily cover the -4 at 10/11.
Northampton v Perpignan – 15:00 live on Sky Sports 3
French champions Perpignan have had a poor Heineken Cup campaign and cannot even qualify for the next stage which could have punters steaming in to Northampton at 1/6 with the deflated Top 14 side at 7/2.
Reports about that Perpignan are sending a weaker side than usual and this will be music to the ears of those who fancy the Saints giving up 11 points on the handicap at odds of 10/11 and you can be sure they will be going for a bonus point win in order to stay in touch with Munster at the top of the group.
Northampton at Franklins Gardens are a tough team to beat and they should win but the question is by how many?
The Saints have the likes of Ben Foden (14/ for first try), Shane Geraghty (20/1) in the back line to create and penetrate and Courtney Lawes (25/1) to cause damage in the pack and against a Perpignan forward line shorn of Nicolas Mas and Perry Freshwater, suggesting they may lose the upfront battle.
If you think the handicap looks too big, a winning margin of 6-10 is 5/1 with 11-15 at 9/2 with William Hill but Perpignan look like they are coming here fairly uninterested and with Northampton on the hunt for a bonus point, they can claim a victory by over the 11 points and take Foden to score first at 14/1.
Toulouse v Harlequins – 15:00 live on Sky Sports Red Button
The French side have taken apart both Sale and Cardiff at home and it is hard to see posting a victory and they may even struggle with a start of 14 points at odds of 10/11.
Toulouse will want to win this to get clear of Sale and a winning margin of 16-20 at 9/2 or even 21-25 at 5/1 could be in the right area if they play anything like their majestic best which would mean the likes of Cedric Heymans (9/1 for first try), Yannick Jauzion (12/1) and Maxime Medard (14/1) performing but the value for first try scorer could be with flanker Thierry Dusautoir at 16/1.
Quins have big threats in their strong team including Ugo Monye (14/1) and Gonzalo Tiesi (20/1), while Nick Evans can create moments of brilliance at fly half but Toulouse look like possible winners of the whole tournament and with nothing to play for, expect the French side to steamroller Quins like they have so many before them.