Hawkeye Sidekick

Tough draws for Connacht and Ulster as European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter final revealed

Tough fixture list for the Irish provinces

This is a competition which I am conflicted with. Perhaps, it is because the massive landslide results in the pool stages. The knock out rounds though always produce some exhilarating fixtures and this fixture list should support that view.

Last sixteen round

Ospreys vs. Newcastle Falcons

London Irish vs. Cardiff Blues

Zebre vs. Bath Rugby

Harlequins vs. Ulster Rugby

Leicester Tigers vs. Connacht Rugby

Dragons vs. Northampton Saints

Montpellier vs. Glasgow Warriors

Benetton Rugby vs. Agen

Quarter Final pairings

Zebre Rugby / Bath Rugby vs. London Irish / Cardiff Blues

Montpellier / Glasgow Warriors vs. Benetton Rugby / Agen

Dragons / Northampton Saints vs. Harlequins / Ulster Rugby

Leicester Tigers / Connacht Rugby vs. Ospreys / Newcastle Falcons

Connacht Rugby face Welford Road test

This is a tricky fixture for Connacht Rugby. Leicester Rugby’s home form in recent weeks has improved significantly domestically and this side on paper is stacked with quality. Cole, Youngs, Genge, Ford, Taute, Nadolo.

Connacht Rugby will point a progressive season in Guinness Pro14; the expected fast track drying conditions in April should aid their fast expansive game plan. It is one of the standout fixtures.

If Connacht Rugby were to emerge from Leicester with a victory, then it is a tie with Ospreys or Newcastle Falcons. Ospreys will not fear coming to Galway and Newcastle Falcons will travel to Galway with confidence.

Ulster Rugby looking for silverware

Two road trips to reach the last eight but Ulster Rugby will fancy their chances of a victory against a Harlequins side who when I saw them at Thomond Park offered little.

Northampton Saints should be favored to advance in their Rodney Parade fixture but Ulster Rugby will fancy their chances in this assignment.

Dan McFarland and side need to reach a final here to cement the opinion that they have evolved from last season. Anything further and it is a disappointment given the squad talent in the side.

Big chance for Montpellier?

Two home fixtures to reach a quarter final of an European competition. Montpellier have flattered to deceive when it comes to European fare. Do they go for this tournament? No reason why not.

Their first fixture is against a Glasgow Warriors side who have found the season hard going. The pack have struggled at times to match the physicality required when faced against the top sides.

Montpellier have a massive pack, they will rumble on and with a potential tie against either Benetton Rugby or Agen, perhaps a small wager on Montpellier should be placed to reach the final?

All to play out for the rest of the sides

Bath Rugby, Zebre Rugby, London Irish and Cardiff Blues will see this tournament as an opportunity to improve form and confidence. Any of these sides on their day could beat each other in the last sixteen round.

London Irish and Cardiff Blues looks a standout fixture. Two sides who will look to attack from minute one; tries aplenty in that. 50/50 call. Zebre Rugby will look at Bath Rugby’s domestic form and see an opportunity to win here.