Heineken Cup Predictions: Round 6

joe marler

The final round of pool games sees plenty left to play for, even if it is just Amlin qualification places in some cases. Friday night brings the resolution of pool one, with Northampton entertaining Castres and Leinster playing the Ospreys. Two wins for the home sides should be on the cards, quite possibly with bonus points, which would mean Leinster go through as comfortable pool winners, although they may not get a home quarter final. A bonus point win for the Saints would probably see them enter the Amlin.

Saturday’s early games come from pool three, where Toulouse have a home quarter final all but guaranteed with an away trip to Zebre an almost surefire five points. To book their place in the quarter finals, Saracens just need a win at home to Connacht, which they should get, but will be a little more wary than usual given the province’s heroics at the Ernest Wallon earlier in the season.

Toulon have sauntered through pool two without ever really getting out of third gear (for some of the names in their ranks, they shouldn’t be losing to any of their pool-mates), but credit must go to Cardiff, Exeter and Glasgow for keeping things competitive. Scotstoun isn’t an easy place to win, and Glasgow will be full of confidence after last weekend, but the galacticos from the South of France should have enough to get a win on Saturday. Cardiff, who battled bravely against the champions last weekend, will have to work hard to beat a plucky Exeter side, but at the Arms Park they should do so.

Saturday evening brings the game of the round, as Ulster travel to Leicester in a bid to become the only unbeaten team to reach the knockout stages. The Tigers haven’t lost at home in Europe since Munster stormed Welford Road in 2006, but its walls have been shaky this season, with a loss and two draws to teams above them in the table. Still, with the Youngs-Flood-Allen axis back together for the first time since October, it is still a daunting task for the Ulstermen. It is a mouthwatering prospect and incredibly tough to call, but home advantage just swings things Leicester’s way. Montpellier will win the dead rubber against Treviso comfortably.

Munster have already guaranteed top spot of pool six, but will be chasing maximum points against Edinburgh in search of a home quarter-final. They’ve named a strong-looking team, and with the likes of JJ Hanrahan and Simon Zebo on the bench, there will be plenty of attacking endeavour right until the final whistle. Gloucester have named a reasonably decent team for their trip to Perpignan, but few will expect them to get anything from their trip to the Aimé Giral, in a raucous atmosphere like few else and against a Perpignan pack that includes former Gloucesterman Luke Narraway.

The final pool to be resolved is number four, which means Clermont will be in the enviable position of knowing exactly what they need out of their home game against Racing Métro to secure a home quarter final. Not that it would make that much difference, mind, as Racing have looked at best abject and at worst abysmal this season. In this fixture in the Top 14, they were crushed 47-14. Expect a similarly large margin this weekend. Elsewhere Harlequins travel to the Parc Y Scarlets with nothing more than pride on the line, and there will be plenty of it at stake, too, as they look to avenge the loss at the Stoop in round one. The Scarlets were mightily impressive last weekend, but Quins were also excellent against Clermont and could come away with a win this time.

SuperBru predictions:
Leinster v Ospreys: Leinster by 10
Northampton Saints v Castres: Saints by 16
Saracens v Connacht: Saracens by 16
Zebre v Toulouse: Toulouse by 30
Cardiff Blues v Exeter Chiefs: Cardiff by 3
Glasgow Warriors v Toulon: Toulon by 7
Leicester Tigers v Ulster: Tigers by 2
Montpellier v Benetton Treviso: Montpellier by 25
Munster v Edinburgh: Munster by 13
Perpignan v Gloucester: Perpignan by 12
Scarlets v Harlequins: Harlequins by 3
Clermont Auvergne v Racing Métro: Clermont by 26

How do you see the weekend playing out?

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

8 thoughts on “Heineken Cup Predictions: Round 6

  1. So where would that leave us?

    1. Toulon (25) Vs 8. Saracens
    2. Toulouse (24) Vs 7. Ulster
    3. Leicester (24) Vs 6. Leinster (22)
    4. Clermont (24) Vs 5. Munster (23)

    Toulouse have 15 tries, but should add a hatful against Zebre to seal the second seeding. Leicester have a two try start on Clermont but you’d expect Clermont to score more against Racing than Leicester do against Ulster, so those two are interchangeable.

    Would also have Northampton, Blues and Harlequins dropping down into the Amlin (and Edinburgh missing out).

    Shows how important bonus points are really, as all the pool winners are likely to have 5-0-1 records (unless Ulster beat the Tigers), so the teams with fewer bonus points are going to end up away in the quarters.

  2. My predictions

    Leinster v Ospreys
    Leinster by 11
    Northampton Saints v Castres
    Northampton by 22
    Saracens v Connacht
    Saracens by 33
    Zebre v Toulouse
    Toulouse by 12
    Cardiff Blues v Exeter Chiefs
    Exeter by 6
    Glasgow Warriors v Toulon
    Toulon by 11
    Leicester Tigers v Ulster
    Ulster by 5
    Montpellier v Benetton Treviso Montpellier by 17
    Munster v Edinburgh
    Munster by 22
    Perpignan v Gloucester
    Perpignan by 3
    Scarlets v Harlequins
    Scarlets by 4
    Clermont Auvergne v Racing Métro Clermont by 9

  3. ” a plucky Exeter side” – Ouch, and I’m not an Exeter fan.

    “with the Youngs-Flood-Allen axis back together for the first time since October, it is still a daunting task for the Ulstermen” – Ha, I agree that Leics will be tough but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen Allen get the credit.

    I see Xavier still thinks Cardiff Blues are rubbish. I’d have loved to have seen how he predicted Blues v Toulon back last year…. Or Blues v Glasgow….

    Looking forward to Blues v Exeter – almost (a few dozen I’m told) sold out, Sat afternoon kick off, a pitch that won’t buckle under the rain. Should be a great afternoon. If we can sneak into the Amlin I’ll be pleased.

    1. Long may people continue to under estimate us Brighty it’s served us well in the past but would have thought Jamie knew better. Looks like we’ll be playing in the rain this afternoon but a good result could see me pick up my (temporary) wheelchair and run. Will be interesting to see how the Steenson – Slade – Hill starting line-up fares.

  4. Good result but disappointing to only win by 6 points given the extent of Exeter’s dominance. Even half p was poor by his standard. But a wins a win!

    1. Aye, Exeter deserved their win Ray. Blues were awful – really, really missed Patch. In the player signing before the match my son met Falise, Navidi, Corey Allen, Owen Williams and Harry Robinson. All of them would have started if fit. Warbs and Bradley also out. We’re down to the bare bones and our youngsters just can’t cope with the power. I’m not making excuses – Exeter have a lot of young lads as well, just highlighting where the differences were. The main difference was out 2nd choice outside half – no control, no sense. He never grabbed the game. Woeful.

      Ewers – seeing him live is odd. He looks like a special effect – he’s almost comically bigger than everyone else on the pitch that you start questioning whether it’s an optical illusion.

      1. I doubt the guys trying to stop him thought he was an illusion, well not for long! At 6′ 4” and 18 stone he’s a big lad alright. I wasn’t expecting a win to be honest. Baxter has admitted he’s been giving his squad/fringe players game time since losing twice to Toulon ready for more serious games when the premiership returns. But he seems to have the ability to field terms greater than the sum of their parts. Nice to see a few Exeter guys making the England squads at last.

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