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Hogg primed to tackle Russell before welcoming him back into Scotland squad


Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell may be friends reunited in the Scotland squad – but they will be at each other’s throats this weekend.

The pair come at Saturday’s Champions Cup final from opposing sides with Hogg spearheading Exeter’s ‘double’ bid and Russell pulling the strings for Racing 92.

Fourteen years have passed since Hogg last played against Russell – half a lifetime during which he has played 76 times for his country and toured with the Lions.

Yet it is the move to Devon which the Scotland captain says has taken his game to another level.

“I came down here to improve myself as a player and a person and get in a position to contribute to winning trophies,” said the fullback.

Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell has Exeter in his sights this weekend

“We’re in a perfect position right now. This is a huge, massive opportunity and I’m absolutely buzzing.

“I’m playing some of the best rugby I’ve played in a long, long time. Of all my rugby decisions this is hands down the best I’ve ever made.”

Everything is going for Rob Baxter’s Chiefs right now, with confirmation yesterday that lock forward Jonny Hill faces no additional punishment for his no-arms clear out on Bath’s Taulupe Faletau at the weekend.

Hogg: ‘I have no doubt that if we faithfully execute our game plan we can come away with the trophy’

But that is no surprise to Hogg, who has kept a close eye on Exeter since first being approached by the club in 2017.

“With the talent here I knew it was only a matter of time,” he said. “I have no doubt that if we faithfully execute our game plan we can come away with the trophy.”

Russell will have plenty to say about that, which won’t surprise Hogg either, as “he’s one of the most naturally gifted rugby players I’ve ever come across”.

Russell’s magic steered Racing 92 past Saracens in last month’s semi-final

Hogg said: “Finn is the one guy we have to be wary of as he can change a game in a heartbeat and, without a shadow of a doubt, will be on his ‘A’ game.”

What Racing need to bear in mind is that Exeter will too. Very few teams that Chiefs suffocate with their defensive blanket live to tell the tale.

Bristol’s European Challenge Cup final against Toulon, in Aix on Friday, will be played in front of a crowd after authorities in France granted tournament bosses permission to sell 1,000 tickets.

But Exeter-Racing remains behind closed doors at Ashton Gate.





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Football USA NFL

Fantasy football: Texans primed for prolonged points explosion



When the NFL schedule-makers presented their final product, the Texans had to be scratching their heads in disbelief. Who did they upset so much they were forced to open the year against the Ravens, Chiefs and Steelers, three of the toughest defenses in the league?

The Texans now sit at 0-3, and those fantasy football owners who invested in their players are banging their heads against a wall. But if you are one of the concussed, fear not, as it truly does get better.

Beginning in Week 4, the Texans go on an eight-week run that should have fantasy owners salivating at the potential points bonanza. They take on three of the softest defenses in the Vikings, Jaguars and Titans over the next three weeks, then prepare for a potential shootout against the Packers.

Following that stretch, it’s the Jaguars for a second time, the Browns, the Patriots and the Lions — a stretch of games like that should have you working the trade phones to acquire Texans if you don’t currently roster any.

Obviously, acquiring Deshaun Watson seems unlikely without having to trade a marquee player. But running back David Johnson, and receivers Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks should be available at a nice discount. Fantasy players continue to undervalue Johnson’s abilities, both as a runner and a pass-catcher, while the focus on Fuller and Cooks is their injury histories. Trade negotiations should be relatively smooth.

If the trade winds aren’t blowing in your direction, you can easily get a share of the Texans’ offense via waivers. Wide receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Jordan Akins are available in most 10- and 12-team leagues. Both players are expected to see ample targets in the passing attack and can be dangerous inside the red zone.

And don’t be alarmed at the potential trade cost when they light up Minnesota in Week 4. Most fantasy owners will think you’re chasing points. Let them. You know better.

Howard Bender is a senior writer at FantasyAlarm.com and the host of “Overtime” on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio each Sunday from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy. For more from Fantasy Alarm, listen weekdays on SiriusXM from 4-6 p.m.





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