Rugby Union Challenge Cup 2017 Semi-Final Preview

Rugby Union
Updated Thursday 21st February 2019, 03:55 PM


La Rochelle host Gloucester in the first Challenge Cup semi-final this weekend at the Stade Marcel Deflandre, before Stade Francais then meet Bath at the Stade Jean Bouin. These sides are one game away from the final on 12th May in Edinburgh, the day before the Champions Cup final.

Form

The current Top 14 leaders, La Rochelle have won four of their last five, including a 32-22 victory over Edinburgh in the quarter-final. They most recently lost 29-25 away to Lyon in the Top 14, but it was their first league defeat since November and they’re still unbeaten at home this season. Gloucester have had a mixed run recently, picking up three wins but also losing to both Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. They made it to the semi-finals after beating Cardiff Blues 46-26 in the previous round.

Stade Francais have won four of their last five, including a 25-21 victory over the Ospreys in the quarter-final at the Principality Stadium. They most recently beat Pau 51-16 in the Top 14, and must start as slight favourites on home turf. As for Bath, defeats to Worcester, Saracens and Wasps in their past five games mean the English outfit don’t go into this semi-final with winning momentum. However, they did beat Brive 34-20 at The Rec to set up this last four tie.

Sports.net’s View

La Rochelle and Gloucester have already faced each other in the Challenge Cup pool stages, with one win apiece. La Rochelle have been one of the surprise packages of the season, and are 9/2 to emerge victorious by 6-10 points. Home advantage could be key in both ties, and the French outfit are 4/7 to score first and are 4/9 to be the first side to reach 10 points.

David Humphreys’ Gloucester have been Challenge Cup winners on two previous occasions, most recently in 2015 with a 19-13 victory over Edinburgh at The Twickenham Stoop, and are priced 16/5 to reach the final again. Grieg Laidlaw is available for selection, but Matt Scott, Andy Symons, Henry Purdy and Gareth Evans are all unavailable. The Cherry and Whites are a tempting 6/1 for Half Time/Full Time and are 11/8 to score the first points of the game.

Stade Francais - 11/4 to win both halves - are without winger Josaia Raisuqe after he was suspended for ten weeks for stamping in the victory over the Ospreys. The Parisian-based side have never won the Challenge Cup, but have been runners-up on two occasions, in 2011 and 2013, and they are priced at 9/2 to score the first try and 6/4 to score the first penalty this weekend.

Bath, Challenge Cup winners on one previous occasion in 2008, have also been runners-up on three occasions in 2003, 2007 and 2014, and will be looking to reach the final with victory in France. Todd Blackadder’s side are 13/2 to emerge victorious by 6-10 points, and are 5/1 to open the scoring with a try.

  • Sports.net’s Top Tips: Gloucester to win by 6-10 points at 10/1 and Bath/Stade Francais in the Half Time/Full Time market at 11/2

Please note that odds may fluctuate.


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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2019 03:55:00+00:00
Published By Sports.net


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