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    Here's my version of things.

    It’s a funny old tournament, this year. There’s only a week of a gap between the first two rounds and the back-to-back rounds so, like the Railway Fences at Sandown, where a mistake at one can leave a horses wrong-footed for the next one, teams who were out of form for the first two games may find it difficult to recover for Rounds 3 and 4. Having said that, all teams (with the possible exception of Saracens) will be at full strength, apart from injuries, from here on so we’ll have to see.
    So far there have been ten Try Bonuses and eight Losing Bonuses earned compared to nine and seven respectively in ’18-‘19 and eleven of each in ’17-’18.

    Pool One
    1 Leinster 2 2 0 0 46 25 21 6 3 1 0 9 2
    2 Northampton 2 2 0 0 60 46 14 5 6 1 0 9 6
    3 Treviso 2 0 0 2 51 68 -17 7 9 1 1 2
    4 Lyon 2 0 0 2 20 38 -18 2 2 0 1 1
    Next Fixtures:

    7th Dec 13:00 (Irish time) Lyon v Treviso BT Sport 3
    Northampton v Leinster Virgin 1, Channel 4, BT Sport 2

    Leinster and Northampton are powering away at the top and the head to head will decide the Pool. Two 5-0 wins for one of them would win the Pool if the other two teams were to split their games 4-4. If the head to heads split evenly or nearly evenly, (5-4, say) then Leinster having Lyon at home, would appear to have the easier run-in, although if Lyon are eliminated by Round Six, that would probably change.

    Pool Two
    1 Exeter 2 2 0 0 65 30 35 8 4 2 0 10 1
    2 Sale 2 1 0 1 32 28 4 4 3 0 1 5 9
    3 Glasgow 2 1 0 1 31 41 -10 3 5 0 0 4
    4 La Rochelle 2 0 0 2 27 46 -29 4 7 0 0 0
    Next Fixtures:

    7th Dec 15:15 (Irish Time) La Rochelle v Glasgow BT Sport 3
    8th Dec 15:15 Sale v Exeter BT Sport 2

    Unlike in previous years, Exeter have been getting bonuses this year and are in a strong position going into the head to heads with Sale. There are three points between them in the League but Exeter could very well win on Sunday and a win in the return would put them on 18 points at least and, with La Rochelle going to Sandy Park in the last round, all but through.
    Sale need to beat Exeter at least once to keep in the running. They have Glasgow at home and La Rochelle away in the New Year and would hope to win both of those. That would have them on 17 at least and in the running for the last second placed spot.
    Glasgow really need to do the double over La Rochelle and hope that the other head to head splits evenly. That would put then on 12 points, ahead of Sale and within striking distance of Exeter. Their lack of a Bonus so far might hurt them when it comes to the closing stages.
    To say La Rochelle have been disappointing so far is a serious understatement. They could do a number on Sale or Glasgow at home, though, if their Head Coach has anything to do with it. He can’t line out for them, though so maybe not.

    Pool Three
    1 Ulster 2 2 0 0 35 29 6 4 2 0 0 8 4
    2 Clermont 2 1 0 1 66 34 32 8 5 1 1 6 8
    3 Harlequins 2 1 0 1 36 62 -26 3 7 0 0 4
    4 Bath 2 0 0 2 25 32 -7 1 2 0 2 2
    Next Fixtures

    6th Dec 19:45 Bath v Clermont BT Sport 2
    7th Dec 15:15 Ulster v Harlequins BT Sport 2

    Ulster have had a great start, winning in Bath and again at home to Clermont. No bonus points, though in contrast to Clermont who have two and are two points behind on six.
    The head to heads next month will decide a lot. Given that you would expect Clermont to beat Ulster in Round Five, Ulster need to beat Harlequins twice, ideally with a bonus or two and hope for a favour from Bath, to be sure of staying ahead and winning the Pool. Clermont’s visit to Bath on Friday night will tell a lot. Win and they will overtake Ulster, lose and they will be hoping for a favour from ‘Quins.

    Last edited by Piquet; 5-December-2019, 13:07.

    Pool Four
    1 Racing 2 1 1 0 51 31 20 7 3 1 0 7 5
    2 Munster 2 1 1 0 53 34 19 6 4 1 0 7 7
    3 Saracens 2 1 0 1 54 33 21 7 4 1 0 5
    4 Ospreys 2 0 0 2 16 76 -60 1 10 0 0 0
    Next Fixtures:
    7th Dec 17:30 Munster v Saracens BT Sport 2
    Ospreys v Racing BT Sport 3

    It’s difficult to figure out what’s going to happen in this Pool until it becomes more apparent what selection policy Saracens will follow. What is certain is that three Bonus Point wins would put them on at least 20 points and almost certainly through to the Knockouts if not as Pool winners almost certainly as a Runner up. A losing bonus in Thomond on Saturday together with any win the following week and “fivers” in Swansea and at home to Racing in the last round would do as well. 19 points would probably do, provided it was enough to get second in the Pool, given that it has been enough to get through in each of the last five competitions.
    Munster have dropped three points so far and can’t afford to drop too many more if they are to progress. Winning the Head to Head over Sarries is the minimum requirement. If they do that “5-4”or “5-5” and with a superior PD, say, they will be on twelve points, two or three points ahead of Sarries. If we assume, for the moment, that Racing beat the Ospreys twice, then they will be on 15 at least and possibly more. A win in Paris ( or a “3-3” or a “3-2” draw) is vital if Munster are to stay ahead of Sarries, given that Sarries have the Ospreys in Round Five and would fancy themselves to get five there. That would set up the “Mother of all Round Sixes” Munster would be on 15 or 16, with Racing on 15, 16, 17 or 18 and Saracens on 15 or 16. A win for Munster would win the Pool provided Saracens beat Racing and Munster stayed at least level with them. Of course, all three teams could finish level, in which case, their respective results against the Ospreys would be subtracted from their totals and Match Points followed by Points Difference and Tries Scored would be used to separate
    Racing have the Ospreys twice, will fancy themselves to win both games and will hope that Sarries and Munster share their two games, to leave them out in front with Munster visiting and Sarries to host them last time out. If Munster or Sarries win both games, then the losers will be out and it will be a straight fight for Pool honours with the second placed team probably going through as well.
    The Ospreys have no points, at the moment, and their best hope would seem to be to spoil someone’s party at this stage. The “new manager’s bounce” might trouble Racing on Saturday, but they are unlikely to trouble Racing in Paris or Sarries in Round Five. They could put up a massive struggle in the last round particularly if Munster need a fiver.

    Pool Five
    1 Toulouse 2 2 0 0 57 37 20 5 4 1 0 9 3
    2 Montpellier 2 1 0 1 50 50 0 5 5 0 1 5 10
    3 Connacht 2 1 0 1 40 52 -12 5 6 0 1 4
    4 Gloucester 2 1 0 1 47 55 -8 5 4 0 2 2
    Next Fixtures:

    8th Dec 13:00 Gloucester v Connacht BT Sport 2
    15:15 (Irish Time) Toulouse v Montpellier BT Sport 2 Red Button (France 2 and Bein Sports in France)

    Toulouse have done what they needed to do so far and will fancy themselves to win on Sunday over Montpellier who have never beaten (or even drawn with) another Top 14 side away in the Heineken Cup. Mind you, they have beaten all their Top14 opponents at home.
    If Toulouse win both head to head games, they will be in Pole Position on 17 points minimum and could afford to lose in Galway before confirming qualification in the last round at home to Gloucester.
    Having lost in Galway, Montpellier would need to do the double over Toulouse, given they must go to Gloucester in Round Five before hosting Connacht in the last round. Failing to do so would cut their margin for error to the bare minimum possible necessitating a bonus win in one if not two of their last two games.
    Connacht would like Montpellier to win both these head to head games but also need to do likewise in theirs. That would leave the top three level or nearly so in the low teens going into the New Year. The only trouble is that Connacht would be playing each of the other two and the other two would have a game v Gloucester as well as Connacht.

    The Rankings at present are:
    No Team Pts PD Tries
    1 Exeter 10 35 8
    2 Leinster 9 21 6
    3 Toulouse 9 20 5
    4 Ulster 8 6 4
    5 Racing 7 20 7
    6 Northampton 9 14 5
    7 Munster 7 19 6
    8. Clermont 6 32 8
    9. Sale 5 4 4
    10 Montpellier 5 0 5
    If all stopped at this stage, the Quarter Finals would be:

    Exeter (1) v Clermont (8)
    Leinster (2) v Munster (7)
    Toulouse (3) v Northampton (6)
    Ulster (4) v Racing (5)

    With the Semi Finals:

    Exeter/Clermont v Ulster/Racing
    in England if Exeter win, in Ireland if Ulster and Clermont win, in France if Clermont and Racing win.

    Leinster/Munster v Toulouse /Northampton
    in Ireland if Leinster win, in France if Toulouse and Munster win in England if Northampton and Munster win.

    In the previous five years (since the Hatchet Job by the Nigels) the thresholds for the various Knockout positions were:
    Position 18-19 17-18 16-17 15-16 14-15
    2nd ( Certain Home SF)** 26 22 24* 23 22*
    4th (Home QF) 23 21 23 20 20
    8th (last qualifier) 19 18 16* 19 17*
    *decided on Points Difference
    ** under new Rules


      Superb work Sir


        You know what time of year it is when there's a Piquet analysis of the various permutations in each group. Bit more of a nail-biter than usual for us, I feel. Top work as always sir!
        Tis but a scratch.


          One of my favourite points in the season is when Piquet's analysis goes up- thank you!


            Thanks PK
            "There are a lot of points that we’ve left behind and this is with a young group. That probably tells you what they’re capable of and that they’re a very good side.

            Probably next year or the year after next they will take some stopping"

            Anthony Foley, May 2016. Axel RIP


              Originally posted by jagawayagain View Post
              One of my favourite points in the season is when Piquet's analysis goes up- thank you!
              It reminds me of a teacher we had who used to go underground for a time annually and then emerge with the rota for an entire secondary school calendar. Up with all kinds of underappreciated work
              Last edited by ustix; 5-December-2019, 17:21.
              Gwan Joe!!


                If anyone spots any of the howlers that are sure to be there let me know and I'll put them right.


                  "That would set up the “Mother of all Round Sixes "

                  Fantastic Piquet
                  "Fineen Wycherley was everywhere. When I watched this video back late on Saturday night I half expected to look up from my laptop to find him in my kitchen ' TRK Nov 3rd 2019 following Cardiff v Munster


                    Now that we see what Sarries have decided, at least regarding this weekend, it would appear that they are going to go "balls to the wall" in their two remaining home games, so as to get fivers in each, and put out the 1½ ths away to the Ospreys in the hope of getting five there in Round 5.

                    Failing that, three wins in those games puts them on 17 plus whatever bonuses they pick up in the four remaining games.

                    Let's make a few simplifying assumptions:

                    Racing beat the Ospreys tomorrow night and hammer them out of sight tonight week, getting nine points to go to 16 from four games.

                    Munster and Sarries each win their home games 4-1.
                    P Pts
                    Racing 4 16
                    Munster 4 12
                    Sarries 4 10
                    Now, Munster must go to Paris and win. Otherwise, Racing will either be on 20 or 21 points, depending on whether they get a bonus with Munster on 14 at most or on 18 or 19 with Munster on 14 or 15, depending on whether the draw is 3-3, 3-2, 2-3 or 2-2. In the meantime, Sarries will have gone to Swansea and probably won, maybe with the Bonus to be on 14 or 15.
                    P Pts
                    Racing 5 20/1
                    Sarries 5 14/5
                    Munster 5 12/3/4
                    Losing in Paris, then would leave Munster on 12, 13 or 14 points with a maximum total of 19, unable to catch Racing and at best level with or probably behind Sarries and hoping for a Racing win in Barnet.

                    We need a second away win to progress.


                      2 home bonus point wins plus one away win leaves us on 21 points ,hoping that the one away win is agin Racing and that they get beaten by Sars leaves them on on 19 max ,assuming sars get nothing tomorrow and if they win all last 3 games that gives them 20 points .So ourselves and Sars for me