The sun is out, Spring is here, and the Heineken Cup is getting serious this weekend. Who is excited?
Attempting to predict the result of two all-French matches could be slightly futile, but I’m backing Toulon and Biarritz to prevail – slightly controversially. If Toulon can put in another performance as they did against Munster – clinical and ruthless – I’m confident that they can take down Perpignan.
I hovered over Toulouse for a moment, and finally went for Biarritz based on home advantage – and then remembered that it’s being played in San Sebastian, so there’s hardly an advantage there. I’m not confident, but I’m backing the underdog to get revenge in the repeat of last year’s final.
For some reason, I’d like to see Ulster beat Northampton, but losing Stevie Ferris is a major blow, and I don’t think Ruan Pienaar can win this one on his own. Two weeks ago, I would have predicted an Ulster victory, but the Saints have returned to form and should come through this game.
And finally, Leinster v Leicester on Saturday should be a cracker, with various England players returning to the scene that has probably haunted them ever since the Grand Flop. Will they make amends, or will the home side blow them away again? The England contingent should be a bit smarter, but I’m still siding with Leinster – and don’t quote me, but I think the winner of this match will go on to lift the trophy.
Here are my predictions for this weekend’s Heineken Cup quarter-finals – what do you think?
Perpignan v Toulon: Toulon by 6
Leinster v Leicester Tigers: Leinster by 9
Northampton Saints v Ulster: Northampton Saints by 13
Biarritz v Toulouse: Biarritz by 6