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An all-French clash in the Champions Cup semi-final here was certainly expected, but most people would’ve thought Racing 92 would have progressed instead of Bordeaux.
It was the French international Matthieu Jalibert that kicked the Begles past the suburban Paris side and into their first ever last four on the big European stage.
Toulouse’s fly-half, Romain Ntamack, proved the difference in their semi-final against Clermont, as the stand-off kicked all of their points in the heavy rain in an impressive display, and the two fly-halves will likely be the narrative in this one, with them also competing for the French number 10 jersey.
Bordeaux have been knocking on the door for a little while now as they finished last season at the head of the Top 14 standings before Covid-19 cancelled the season.
They muscled their way past Northampton in their opening Champions Cup fixture, while a comfortable 47-8 victory over the Dragons was enough to see them through to the last-16.
A tough fixture at that stage saw them overcome one of the most talented English sides in Bristol, as an all-around performance saw them pull away with two converted tries in the final 10 minutes at Stade Chaban-Delmas to finished 36-17 victors.
Bordeaux +18 Point Handicap
There’s no getting away from who is the powerhouse in French rugby this season. Toulouse are currently five points clear of La Rochelle at the head of the Top 14 table, having won 15 of their last 18 fixtures dating back to November, including four straight victories in Europe.
This is certainly the more one sided of the two semi-finals, with the hosts as fairly shored priced favourites and considering Bordeaux lost here at the end of 2020 by a 45-23 margin, it isn’t surprising.
However, Bordeaux won at Racing 92 (33-32) and Clermont (37-36) since that disappointing performance and we’d expect this to be a little closer than the bookies are suggesting.
Le Stade have beaten all of Stade Francais (48-24), Pau (31-9), Brive (42-17) and Racing 92 (34-16) on home turf since that victory over their visitors back in December, though they did lose to Montpellier at the end of March here.
Only one of those sides is currently in the top half of the domestic league and we’d therefore expect this to be a whole lot closer, even if the four-time European champions still advanced to the final.