Thursday, January 22, 2015

Leinster and Connacht to sail into the Quarters! (probably)

  Pat Lam

This is it! Last round of action in Champs Cup, next stop, hopefully is the quarters for Leinster and Connacht. The ship has sailed for both Ulster and Munster, but there’s still pride to be played for. And with the 6 Nations roaring up, a final opportunity to stake your claim for Ireland or the Wolfhounds.

Leinster travel to Coventry to take on Wasps and get a look at their fancy new stadium. At the start of last weekend’s action, Leinster were expected to be chasing the runners up spot in the pool, and best of the rest place in the QFs. But it’s a better deal now, they could top the group – or as a fall back, they could get a point or two, and still get that runners up spot. Wasps are a good team, so it’ll interesting to see where their heads are for this match. Last weekend, they had nothing lose, they had to win or it was all over, so they went for it. This weekend, they may well be a bit more cagey, as they now have a good chance of making the quarters. Their victory over Quins was built on defence, and work rate. But Quins pretty ordinary in attack, Ben Botica had a shocker, and their main strategy seemed to be to get Mike Brown to punch a big hole through the defence. Meanwhile, Leinster’s attack finally fired against Castre, it’s always easier to run around someone than through them, and they found the hpo;es to run 7 tries.  So it‘s an excellent defence against and excellent attack. Matt O’Connor has wisely chosen to leave SOB and Cian Healy on the road to recovery. I think Leister will just about scrape win out of this one!

Connacht lost last weekend, but had great news that Pat Lamb has re-signed – I was kind of expecting one of the other provinces to come calling. La Rochelle should be easy enough to get a BP out of, then it’s down to getting a few favourable results going your way. They’ll be pretty to lucky to make it I think.

Ulster, and Ireland have more bad injury news with Jackson and Olding, and Ludik doesn’t look great either. HOWEVER, with the Tigers coming to town, all things are possible, including this win I think they’ll get.

Finally, Munster should hand out a satisfying thrashing to Sale.

Champions Cup
Saturday, January 24
Wasps vs Leinster    13:00
Castres vs Harlequins    13:00
Benetton Treviso vs Ospreys    15:15
Northampton vs Racing Metro    15:15
Ulster vs Leicester    17:30
Scarlets vs Toulon    17:30
Connacht vs Bayonne    17:00
Sunday, January 25
Bath vs Glasgow Warriors    13:00
Montpellier vs Toulouse    13:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Saracens    15:15
Munster vs Sale    15:15

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