Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Leinster take on Cardiff in the battle of the Blues and all the provinces are back to full strength.

Au Revoir Delon (Picture )

Coming up for Leinster is a date in Cardiff with the Blues. All of the Welsh sides have been bursting wth confidence since the World Cup and a trip to Cardiff City Stadium is a tough proposition. I didn’t learn much from the Blues website – most of these  club sites are crappy ticket sale vehicles masquerading as information about the club. They say their squad is ‘nearly up to full strength’ As the Heineken Cup gets going again the weekend after this, they are probably right. And ‘Blue Magic’ reckons that Kevin McLaughlin, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney, Eoin Reddan, Mike Ross and Jonathan Sexton are all in the frame for selection. It’s going to be close to full strength for both sides to try to kick themselves into shape for the weekend after, and notwithstanding home advantage, I reckon Blue Magic will prevail.

Ulster are on a high after thumping Munster, but Edinburgh are no pushover with Michael Bradley in charge, and they’ll be hurting from a loss to Glasgow. At full strength, Ulster should do it though.

Connacht travel to Vidana to have a go at Aironi. If they can nearly beat Leinster, they should sort out the bottom team, even away. I see winger Tiernan O’Halloran has signed up for 2 more years with them, which is excellent news. I expect the Galwegians to take this one.

Munster are going to like a bear with a sore head after last weekend, and Treviso are going to feel the pain. They need to pay the Italians their due respect and work through their phases, but they will. Munster are back at full strength, and I’m expecting a big showing from Paul O’Connell, new Ireland captain in Brian’s absence, and having just signed a new two year contact himself.

London Irish are going to have to try and right the wrongs of their humiliation by Bath last week, and do it against in form Sale too. Rumour has it that Delon Armitage is off to France and taking Nick Kennedy with him. Delon will not be a desperate loss, as he hardly seems to find time to play any rugby these days with his busy schedule of suspensions and injuries. Nick Kennedy is a whole different kettle of fish though. At the Madejski, home support should just about see them through, but then I thought they were going to hammer bath, so what do I know. Saints and Quins should be a cracker too.

RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , January 6
Newport-Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys 19:05
Edinburgh vs Ulster 19:30
Saturday , January 7
Aironi Rugby vs Connacht 15:35
Scarlets vs Glasgow 18:15
Cardiff Blues vs Leinster 18:15
Munster vs Benetton Treviso
Aviva Premiership
Friday , January 6
Northampton vs Harlequins 19:45
Saturday , January 7
Worcester vs Gloucester 14:45
Newcastle vs Exeter 15:00
Leicester vs Wasps 17:00
Sunday , January 8
London Irish vs Sale 15:00
Saracens vs Bath 15:00

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