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Preview: Heineken Champions Cup

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Everything at stake, pool by pool, in this weekend's Heineken Champions Cup

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As the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage reaches its climax this weekend, here’s a pool by pool breakdown of what’s at stake.

Pool 1

A win for already-qualified Leinster at Benetton on Saturday will see the four-time champions finish the pool stage as the No 1-ranked club with a home quarter-final. A draw would also guarantee that precious home quarter-final, but a defeat and Leinster will be depending on other results to go their way. Northampton Saints on 14 points will have to win in Lyon to be in the shake-up for a best runner-up spot.

Pool 2

Pool winners, Exeter Chiefs, can book a first home quarter-final in their history with a win against La Rochelle at Sandy Park on Saturday. A draw or a defeat, and they’ll be anxiously watching results elsewhere. Glasgow Warriors are qualification outsiders on 12 points, and they’ll almost certainly need a bonus-point win at Sale to have a chance as a best runner-up.

Pool 3

A two-horse race at the top of the table with ASM Clermont Auvergne (20 points) safely through but on a quest for victory at Harlequins on Saturday to win the pool and to be in the mix for a home quarter-final. Ulster are looking good for a quarter-final place on 17 points, and a win against Bath at the Kingspan will guarantee qualification either as the pool winner or as a best runner-up ranked No 6.

Pool 4

The clash of holders Saracens (14 points) and pool winners, Racing 92 (22 points), on Sunday is shaping up as the match of round. Racing are focused on securing a quarter-final at Paris La Défense Arena while Saracens will be hell-bent on the victory that could seal a knockout stage place for the ninth season in a row. Saturday’s results could well clarify the qualification situation for both clubs, but expect fireworks at Allianz Park just the same. Meanwhile, Munster (11 points), host the Ospreys needing a bonus-point win and some divine intervention.

Pool 5

Even though a freakish set of results earlier in the weekend could see Gloucester (14 points) requiring just a losing bonus point to guarantee a quarter-final place at Toulouse on Sunday, all current indications are that they will need to win to have any hope of qualification. The TOP 14 champions may be already through, but they have a home quarter-final in their sights.

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Everything at stake, pool by pool, in this weekend's Heineken Champions Cup
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