Thursday, December 15, 2011

Leinster, fresh off the bold step, set to clean up Bath

Geech - in dub (Picture )

Part deux of last week’s matches kicks off this weekend, with a big day on Saturday.  Ulster are away to Aironi, and should accept no less than a five point win. Ulster have a full squad to pick from, with only Paddy Wallace and Jared Payne out with injury. Could we get to see Pienaar again for the match? Connacht take on Gloucester at Kingsholm, with the welcome return of Mike McCarthy. They got really close last week, but away wins at this level are not all that common, and I can’t see them winning this one.

Leinster have no injury problems at the moment ahead of their home clash with Bath. Are they going to pull the plug on Bath, clean up Bath, or another cliché I haven’t thought of? This week’s preparation should have included a bit of time for the team on the bold step, while they reflected on where it went wrong last week. The review of the match must have been like one of those video nasties from the 80’s, up there with Driller Killer. Bath travel with nothing to lose, while the Leinster have all the pressure to show they have the form to try and retain the Heineken Cup. I’d say Bath are going to feel like they’ve been hit by a freight train. Bath have a spectacularly uninformative website, so I’ve no update on their squad, but I did find out that their coaches Sir Ian McGeechan, Brad Davis and Martin Haag, along with Nick Blofeld and David Trick, will be doing a meet and greet in the Lagoona Bar in Dulin on Friday from 8-9pm.

Munster have Keith Earls back in the squad, but I doubt he’ll play, while Peter O ‘Mahoney is out for the moment. Scarlets have as useful a website as Bath, but from a neutral point of view I’d like to see George North back in action. A tough group sets you up well to succeed later, and it looks increasingly likely they will top the group. This will be a hell of a match, but Munster’s home advantage should do it for them.

London Irish’s chances of progressing are pretty slim, but if they can beat Racing away, they can beat them at home too, and then they just have to hope for other results to go their way.

Friday, 16 December 2011
Biarritz v Treviso, Pl5, 20:00
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues, Pl2, 20:00
Ospreys v Saracens, Pl5, 20:00

Saturday, 17 December 2011
Aironi v Ulster, Pl4, 13:30
Gloucester v Connacht, Pl6, 15:40
Leicester v Clermont Auvergne, Pl4, 13:30
Leinster v Bath, Pl3, 18:00
London Irish v Racing Metro 92, Pl2, 15:00
Montpellier v Glasgow, Pl3, 15:40

Sunday, 18 December 2011
Munster v Scarlets, Pl1, 12:45
Northampton v Castres, Pl1, 15:00
Toulouse v Harlequins, Pl6, 15:00

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