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All set for another European campaign

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A new season of European club rugby tournaments kicks off this Friday, with Leicester Tigers and Ulster providing the curtain-raiser at Ravenhill.

Tigers, twice winners and five-time finalists in the Heineken Cup, have been drawn in Pool 5 alongside Ulster, Montpellier and Benetton Treviso.

Here is our quick guide to who’s who in Heineken Cup Pool 5.

Who is in Pool 5?
Ulster Rugby

After opening their league campaign with two defeats, it’s been three victories in a row for Ulster Rugby in the Pro 12.
Last weekend the 2012 Heineken Cup runners-up fought back from 12-0 down early in the second-half at the Liberty Stadium to inflict a first defeat of the season on Ospreys.

Paddy Jackson kicked all of the Ulster points with six penalties in an 18-12 victory that moved them fourth in the Pro 12 table.

It came after a bonus-point victory over Benetton Treviso, coincidentally their Pool 5 rivals in Europe too, in round four.
Michael Allen scored two tries, and there were scores for Luke Marshall and British & Irish Lions stars Tommy Bowe and Rory Best in a 32-13 win over their Italian opponents at Ravenhill.

And that followed an 18-7 win at Connacht the previous week, a much-needed first victory of the season after they kicked off with a 15-8 defeat at Newport Gwent Dragons and then a 12-13 defeat by Glasgow at Ravenhill in Round Two.

Tigers and Ulster have, of course, met in Europe before with each club winning at home and losing away in previous encounters. The first encounter, in Belfast in the 2003/04 season, ended in a 33-0 win for Ulster, though Tigers turned the tables one round later with a 49-7 triumph at Welford Road. Two seasons ago, Tigers won 20-9 at home in round two but lost 41-7 at Ravenhill.

Benetton Treviso
Tigers and Treviso meet for the fourth time in six years in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup, with the Italians providing the opening Welford Road opposition in two weeks’ time.

It has been a mixed start to the season for Benetton Treviso. They ran Ospreys close at Stadio di Monigo in the opening round with Simone Favaro scoring a try and Alberto di Bernardo kicking 14 points. But tries for Scott Baldwin and Ben John, plus 14 points for international fly-half Dan Biggar, gave the Welsh region a 24-19 victory.

Treviso were beaten 26-10 at Scarlets in Round Two and 32-13 at Ulster in Round Four. But sandwiched in between was a 29-19 home victory over Munster that ended the Irishmen’s 100-per-cent start to the season.

Wing Ludovico Nioglia scored both Treviso tries and, while Munster scored three tries of their own, it was the boot of Mat Berquist that proved the difference, the fly-half kicking 19 points.

And Treviso enter their Heineken Cup campaign on the back of a 23-3 victory over Connacht last week.

Di Bernardo landed three penalties in the first half to put Treviso 9-0 up at the break. Alessandro Zanni touched down and Luca Morisi touched down in the second-half with Tobias Botes converting both tries for Treviso’s second Pro 12 win of the campaign.

Montpellier warmed up for their Heineken Cup opener in Treviso with a 45-20 thumping of Oyonnax at their Stade Yves du Manoir home.

They ran in six tries through Alexandre Bias, Yoan Audrin, Thomas Combezou (2), Anthony Floch and Benoit Paillaugue, who also landed all six conversions and a penalty.

The win, in Round 9 of their domestic season, moved Montpellier level on points with Toulon and Toulouse at the summit of the Top 14.

Montpellier invested heavily in their squad over the summer, adding the likes of former Perpignan prop Nicolas Mas, Wynand Olivier and Sitaleki Timani as well as former Leicester Tigers lock Jim Hamilton.

They began their season with a 22-22 draw at home to defending European champions Toulon and are still unbeaten at home after wins over Brive 33-24 and Toulouse 25-0, and a stunning 43-3 result against Clermont Auvergne.

Montpellier also picked up a win at Bordeaux-Begles but have slipped to three defeats on the road, including a 18-11 reverse at Stade Francais.

Heineken Cup Pools
Pool 1 Leinster Rugby, Northampton Saints, Ospreys, Castres Olympique
Pool 2 Toulon, Cardiff Blues, Glasgow Warriors, Exeter Chiefs
Pool 3 Toulouse, Saracens, Connacht Rugby, Zebre
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne, Harlequins, Scarlets, Racing Metro 92
Pool 5 Ulster Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Montpellier, Benetton Treviso
Pool 6 Munster Rugby, Perpignan, Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby

Round 1 Fixtures
Friday, October 11

Pool 5 Ulster Rugby v Leicester Tigers (8pm)
Pool 3 Connacht Rugby v Saracens (8pm)
Pool 3 Toulouse v Zebre (9pm)
Saturday, October 12
Pool 6 Edinburgh Rugby v Munster (1.35pm)
Pool 5 Benetton Treviso v Montpellier (2.35pm)
Pool 4 Harlequins v Scarlets (3.40pm)
Pool 1 Castres Olympique v Northampton Saints (4.40pm)
Pool 1 Ospreys v Leinster Rugby (6pm)
Pool 6 Gloucester Rugby v Perpignan (6pm)
Sunday, October 13
Pool 2 Exeter Chiefs v Cardiff Blues (12.45pm)
Pool 2 Toulon v Glasgow Warriors (4pm)
Pool 4 Racing Metro 92 v ASM Clermont Auvergne (9pm)

Round 2 fixtures
Friday, October 18
Pool 3 Saracens v Toulouse (7.45pm)
Pool 5 Leicester Tigers v Benetton Treviso (8pm)
Saturday, October 19
Pool 2 Cardiff Blues v Toulon (1.35pm)
Pool 3 Zebre v Connacht Rugby (2.35pm)
Pool 1 Leinster Rugby v Castres Olympique (3.40pm)
Pool 5 Montpellier v Ulster Rugby (4.40pm)
Pool 4 Scarlets v Racing Metro 92 (6pm)
Pool 6 Munster Rugby v Gloucester Rugby (6pm)
Sunday, October 20
Pool 1 Northampton Saints v Ospreys (12.45pm)
Pool 6 Perpignan v Edinburgh Rugby (1.45pm)
Pool 2 Glasgow Warriors v Exeter Chiefs (2.00pm)
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins (4.00pm)