Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm going with Munster, Clermont, Ulster and Leinster - trust me!


I’ve put in all the essential training and preparation for this weekend’s Heineken Cup action  – the couch springs have been tested, the remote is taped in the secret spot beneath the table,  I tested my stamina for the arduous ‘3 matches in a row’ hell in the 6 Nations – bring it on now, do your worst!

First up is Munster’s clash with Toulouse, at Thomond Park.  Munster definitely won’t have Donnacha Ryan, although it sounds like Peter O’Mahoney will make it. Toulouse don’t have mountainous  Census Johnston, but apart from that their team reads like a who’s who of French and international rugby. Toulouse are 6th in the T14, level on points with two other teams. They are not the force they were, and the French away from home are notoriously flaky. On paper, they have a better team than Munster, but I fancy Munster are going to dig deep for this one, if they build an early lead with barnstorming start, that’ll put the Rouges et Noir away

Clermont Leicester is next, it’s all giants of the game at this stage. Leicester’s coach thinks that Les Jaunards unbeaten run of 74 games at Parc de Sports Marcel Michelin puts the pressure on Clermont. My arse. That record is there because a) they arguably have the biggest, baddest, bestest squad for a club side, anywhere, anyhow b) they would pretty well lay down their lives for their fanatical fans. The Tigers are great team too, and will back themselves, but I think the Clermont should have won the thing last year, and won’t slip up to the Englishmen.

Ulster Saracens at the newly renovated Ravenhill – yes please!They reckon they could have sold the place out 8 times over, such was the demand for tickets.  This is going to be a brawl to see who can get the upper hand in the pack. And I think we’re going to see some steel that Saracens haven’t come up against yet, the Ulstermen are going to be absolutely ferocious, they are going to get biblical on the Londoners arses, and then Bowe, Jackson, Trimble and Jarred Payne are going to rip them to shreds in the backs and finish the job. Ulster with an epic win!

Finally, Leinster get to travel to the Stade Felix Mayol to take on Toulon. Toulon are extra stuffed with household names in international rugby, not many French internationals mind, but still, it’s pretty mind boggling who they have to call on. Leinster have a full team to pick from, apart from SOB.  After last weekend’s match against Munster, I’d suspect Toulon are going to try to scrum for 80 minutes, with Johnny to kick the them home. And they are going to try and physically smash  Leinster witht eh size fo their players. Leinster are up against it alright, they are going to have to play the match of their lives to get out of this, but they can. They’ll have to play a superb kicking game to keep Toulon as close to their own try line as possible, defend defend, tackle tackle, wear them out – then turn on just enough style at the end to take the game away from the Frenchmen. Matt, if you’re reading, that’s how we’ll do it, and I think we will, c’mon you have to be bullish don’t you!

And if it all goes according to my predictions, that’ll be both semis in Dublin!

Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 5
Munster vs Toulouse 13:30
Clermont Auvergne vs Leicester 16:00
Ulster vs Saracens 18:30
Sunday , April 6
Toulon vs Leinster 16:30

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