Heineken Cup: who needs what from Rounds 5 and 6

As the Heineken Cup reaches the climax of the pool stages, Conor Buckley assesses each pool.

Pool 1

Only one winner from this group. Northampton (16pts) to qualify and they face Edinburgh this weekend and Castres away in last game. Although their form has stuttered somewhat in recent weeks domestically they should have enough to close this group out.

Cardiff and Edinburgh are both out of contention; Castres have a tiny chance of runner up spot but would require two bonus-point wins.

This weekend’s games: Blues v Castres, Saints v Edinburgh

Prediction: Blues by 3, Saints by 8

Only the Saints to qualify.

Pool 2

Leinster are riding high (14pts), 5pts clear of Clermont and Racing. The Irish side are hitting a rich vein of form at the moment despite going into the last couple of games with some injury worries, and they will claim the top spot.

Saracens are out, Racing Metro and Clermont are in a dogfight for 2nd, although I think it will be too little, too late

This weekend’s games: Leinster v Saracens, Clermont v Racing

Prediction: Leinster by 12, Racing by 3

Only Leinster to qualify.

Pool 3

Almost too tight to call: only 3 points separate Toulon (13pts), Munster (11pts) and the Ospreys (10pts). Only London Irish are out of this pool.

Toulon will not roll-over at home as they did in Thomond in October that’s for sure, and Munster will have to earn every single point on offer this weekend. This group is wide open, but I am leaning towards Munster to scrape through with their decade-plus of Heineken Cup experience.

This weekend’s games: Toulon v Munster, London Irish v Ospreys

Prediction: Munster by 2, Ospreys by 12

If Munster can win this weekend the pool is theirs…

Pool 4

Biarritz (16pts) look likely to qualify, but there is the threat of Ulster leap-frogging them, who travel to Ravenhill this weekend. It’s a tough place to go and win as Stade will testify from last season. Ulster’s recent poor form of late counts against them so I’m going to go for Biarritz. Aironi and Bath’s European dream is over for another season.

This weekend’s games: Bath v Aironi, Ulster v Biarritz

Prediction: Bath by 25, Biarritz by 2

Biarritz to win the group, whilst Ulster have an outside chance of going through to the quarters as a best runner up.

Pool 5

Another very tight group, and I’m predicting heartbreak for the Scarlets. Even though the Tigers sit in second position in this pool, I tip them to go through. They face first-placed Scarlets this weekend in what will be a cracker of a game, with two teams with very contrasting styles going head-to-head. Treviso are definitely out, and the other three spots are to be decided.

This weekends games: Trevsio v Perpignan, Scarlets v Tigers

Prediction: Perpignan by 15, Tigers by 10

Tigers to top the group, and next week’s final game of the round between Perpignan and Scarlets will probably see the winner go through to the quarters as a runner up.

Pool 6

A bit more cut and dried in this group with two teams riding high. Expect wins for both Toulouse (17pts) and Wasps (15pts) this weekend, which should be enough for both to go through. Glasgow and the Dragons were only making up the numbers in this group.

This weekends games: Toulouse v Dragons, Glasgow v Wasps

Prediction: Toulouse by 18, Wasps by 6

Both Toulouse and Wasps to qualify for the quarter-finals.

All going well (and my predictions rarely do!) this is how I see the Quarter Finals shaping up:

1. Toulouse v 8. Perpignan
2. Biarritz v 7. Wasps
3. Saints v 6. Munster
4. Tigers v 5 Leinster

5 thoughts on “Heineken Cup: who needs what from Rounds 5 and 6

  1. I fancy Ulster to beat Biarritz this weekend, and then an away win in Aironi to see them go through as pool winners.

    I think Leinster will do enough for a home QF as well, benefiting from facing Sarries and Racing who will probably both be out when they meet.

  2. Ulster v Biarritz is very hard to call, normally I would go for Ulster but they have looked disinterested of late even when playing at home.
    Leinster are going to end up very close to Leicester in the final shakedown and with Tigers still having to play Aironi, I feel they have a better hope of getting the bonus point there…

  3. hope leinster avoid the tigers in the quater especially if it is not a home one!! in that group i would like wasps!!!! for quater final followed by biarritz and munster but think ospreys will get through in that pool!!!! just have a feeling!!

    think ulster could handle them as well this weekend will be very tight if Humphrey’s has a good one ulster good win it :)

  4. What a difference to last year. It was an all Irish-French affair, but England will join this year probably. I still hope a Welsh club can get a spot, Scarlets deserve it and Ospreys have more than enough quality.
    It’s a shame that highfliers in the Top 14 this year like Racing, Toulon and Clermont will fail to go through due to their tough pools and instead of them Perpignan, who are dreadful for their standards this year, and Wasps will likely see the quarters instead.

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