Friday, 21 January 2011

Heineken Cup: Race for the Quarter-Finals

This weekend sees the final round of the Heineken Cup pool stages and with several pools wide open it looks sets to be a cracker. Northampton, Toulon and Toulouse have already booked their places in the quarter-finals but who will join them?

Leinster face a tough trip to Paris to take on Racing Metro 92 in pool two but the Irish province sit five points ahead of chasing Clermont and look set to qualify. Elsewhere, pool three is done and dusted with Munster and the Ospreys out of the running for the knock-out stages thanks to their defeats last weekend.

Toulon marchons from that group and are likely to be joined by last season’s losing finalists Biarritz from pool four. However, Ulster are locked on 17 points with the French side and will be praying Bath will do them a favour and beat their gallic counterparts to hand the Irish province a home quarter-final. Ulster will be eyeing a bonus point win at Aironi to secure passage to the last eight for the first time since they won the competition in 1998/99.

Pool five is the tightest pool to call, with Perpignan and Leicester locked on 17 points and the Scarlets just two points behind. After coming out on top in their tricky trip to West Wales, Leicester fans will have let out a huge sigh of relief, knowing that a home game against Benetton Treviso is all that stands between them and the knock-out stages. But can the Scarlets bounce back from last weekend’s xx trouncing to beat Perpignan in their own back yard and cause the upset of the round? It would be great for Welsh rugby but sadly I can’t see them sneaking a win at the Stade Aimé Giral.

Finally in pool six, reigning champions Toulouse have oozed class and progress to the quart-finals with five wins from five having done just enough in every game. They face second place Wasps at home who are effectively out of the running for one of the two runners up spots thanks to their defeat by Glasgow in the last round.

But who do you think will win this weekend and join the Saints, Toulon and Toulouse in the last eight? Here are my predictions, but as always please feel free to discuss and add yours in the comments below.

Racing Metro 92 v Leinster - Leinster by 9.
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne – Clermont by 7.
Aironi Rugby v Ulster – Ulster by 22.
Biarritz v Bath – Biarritz by 12.
Castres v Northampton – Northampton by 9.
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues – Cardiff by 6.
Munster v London Irish – Munster by 7.
Ospreys v Toulon – Ospreys by 4.
Leicester v Benetton Treviso – Leicester by 30.
Newport-Gwent Dragons v Glasgow – Dragons by 8.
Perpignan v Scarlets – Perpignan by 12.
Wasps v Toulouse – Toulouse by 6.

If you're on Twitter you can follow me @Bamberio.


  1. Ulster won big, so they are other runner up spot left.

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