Thursday, April 2, 2015

Leinster are the France of the Champions Cup!

Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien (picture

Leinster start up the Champions Cup fixtures at the Aviva against Bath. They are the sole flag bearers left for the Pro 12, dominated this year by French and English clubs. If Leinster had got to choose who to play out the remaining teams, it would have been Wasps and then Bath, so it’s all going swimmingly so far. But Leinster have turned into a Jeckyl and Hyde teams, we are the France of the Champions Cup, it’s either poetry in motion or plain fugly! People like O’Brien,  Heslip, Toner and Healy are going to give the team a huge lift, although Bath are not short of star players either. I’d say Gopperth is the key for us, he’s a confidence player, if he starts well, he can play a blinder, whereas if he fluffs his lines early, it often all comes to tears after that. Each team probably has its strategy based around spooking the opposition fly half, George Ford can go awfully quiet too if he wobbles. I’m going for the mean Mr Hyde to surface for Leinster and a home win.

The rest of the matches are all reruns of the last 6 Nations match this year, although on paper anyway the French have the upper hand in home advantage. Also, whilst Philippe St Andre can’t seem to find the French players he needs (although that’s another story) the French clubs simply buy the best in the world. That doesn’t mean that they’re unbeatable, but the quantity and quality of players available to each of the three remaining French clubs have at their disposal is pretty jaw dropping. Saracens probably have the best chance of scoring an away win, but what you see what Racing Metro did to the Saints away from home, you wouldn’t put a lot of money on it anyway. I’m predicting 4 home wins then, let’s see how it pans out.

Finally, Connacht travel to Gloucester to go cherry picking on Friday night. The teams are in roughly the same position in their respective leagues, Gloucester have a bigger budget, the Galwegians a bigger reputation for giant killing. Home advantage will probably see Gloucester home though.

Champions Cup
Leinster vs Bath    14:15
Clermont Auvergne vs Northampton    16:45
Sunday, April 05
Racing Metro vs Saracens    11:45
Toulon vs Wasps    14:15

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