It’s the second weekend of European Rugby’s glamour tournament, the Champions Cup, with already some matches taking on greater significance.
With only the winners of each pool and the three best second placed teams going through to the knockout stages a couple of bad results can end a team’s European campaign.
So with the stakes rising we picked out four games to watch this weekend:
Munster v Gloucester
Saturday, October 20, 16:00 at Thomond Park, Limerick
Munster surprised many people, even themselves with their fighting 10-10 draw at high-flying Exeter on Match Day 1 and they will be looking to build on that when Johan Ackermann’s side arrive in town.
Gloucester will be very happy with their work on the opening weekend as they ground out a 19-14 victory over Top 14 champions Castres at Kingsholm.
This shapes up very much as a battle of the No10s, with Joey Carbery looking to build on his impressive start in Munster red and Gloucester’s Danny Cipriani trying to elevate himself in Eddie Jones’ pecking order.
Whichever fly-half ends up pulling the strings will decide the result.
📰 | Fifteen @EdinburghRugby players named in Gregor Townsend's 2018 Autumn Test squad: https://t.co/VU6oRl1crl— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) October 17, 2018
🗣 “We’ve named a 40-man group for this campaign, which highlights the quality of player that is now available to us and the competition for places."#AsOne pic.twitter.com/YRjkS4V9ks
Edinburgh v Toulon
Saturday October 20, 18:15 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh
The men from the Scottish capital put in one of the performances of the weekend to push French powerhouse Montpellier right to the wire on Match Day 1.
Coach Richard Cockerill has got his team on an upward curve and its not long till they really deliver.
In comparison the glamour club from the French Riviera are in complete free-fall. With just two wins from seven matches in the Top 14 they sit in lowly twelfth spot.
Big name signing Julian Savea is yet to score a try in seven games and was yellow carded in Toulon’s shock home loss to Newcastle on Match Day 1.
The pressure is already building on new coach Patrice Collazo, who did wonders at La Rochelle, with the trip to Edinburgh shaping up as a must win.
Racing 92 v Ulster
Saturday October 20, 20:30 at Paris La Defense Arena
Racing were made to work very hard for their win in Llanelli but they will have been delighted to come away from Parc y Scarlets with a victory.
Ulster started slowly against Leicester trailing 3-0 at halftime but with a man of the match performance from scrum-half John Cooney the team from Belfast piled on 24 second half points to win 24-10.
But Racing 92, last year’s losing finalists, will be a much greater challenge, especially back home in Paris.
With a dominant forward pack and the silky skills of Finn Russell and Simon Zebo out-wide Ulster will be hard pressed to win this one, especially with an injury cloud over Cooney and his flawless kicking.
Apart from his car being broken into, the Kiwi wing is loving life in Dublin. https://t.co/7Vr26C146N— The42.ie (@The42_ie) October 13, 2018
Toulouse v Leinster
Sunday October 21, 18:15 at Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse
Both these teams produced the results of the opening weekend with Leinster putting on a masterclass to slaughter Wasps 52-3 in Dublin while Toulouse pulled off the greatest of escapes to scrape by Bath 22-20 at the Rec, thanks to a hapless Freddie Burns and the quick thinking of Maxime Medard.
Toulouse though will have their hands full this weekend trying to contain the twin threats of Jonny Sexton in close and the peerless James Lowe out-wide.
Lowe was never as highly rated as Julian Savea back in New Zealand, but the former Chiefs finisher has been superb for Leinster with a man of the match performance against Wasps including a staggering 184 run metres, four clean breaks, one try assist and two tries of his own.
To win Toulouse must keep Lowe and Sexton quiet, and Gary Ringrose, and Robbie Henshaw, and Tadgh Furlong, and Sean Cronin, and James Ryan and … You get the idea.
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