NEW YORK, NY – Before I give you my thoughts on Round 3 of The Heineken Cup, you must know this: Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and Declan Yeats have warned me with certain death that you needed to know that these were my picks… and my picks alone. Apparently, they don’t agree with all of them. Here they are:
FRIDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2011
Pool 2 Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh Rugby. Referee: Wayne Barnes (E)
S4C / Sky Sports (i) – Both teams find themselves in moderate form. This is essentially a high-stakes Rabodirect 12 game. I got a feeling Embra will just have more in the tank to pull away late.
Pool 4 Ulster Rugby v Aironi Rugby Referee: Andrew Small (E) – On paper, Ulster should win this with ease. The I-tie outfit are better than what most people think but not that much better.
Pool 6 Harlequins v Toulouse Referee: George Clancy (I)
Sky Sports/Canal+ – Toulouse are fireplace poker hot. Great form in Top 14 and though ‘Quins will try to fight, Toulouse will take their lunch money.
SATURDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2011
Pool 1 Scarlets v Munster Referee: Romain Poite (F) Sky Sports – Munster will be hurting from losing a class player like Doug Howlett. Paging Simon Zebo… time for that breakout season you been promising for the last couple of seasons. Either way Munster and their forwards will smother the Scarlets.
Pool 1 Castres Olympique v Northampton Saints Referee: John Lacey (I) Canal+ / Sky Sports (i) – Despite their poor from in the AP and so far this year, I can’t give up on the saints. Finalists from the year before don’t just have their form fall off a cliff. They may not make the quarters, but I have faith they will come good this round.
Pool 2 Racing Metro 92 v London Irish Referee: Nigel Owens (W)
FR2 / Sky Sports (i) – I find this match funny because my head says the Irish but my heart says Racing. I will listen to my head and go Irish, I think will adjust to the kind of game being called and use it to their advantage.
Pool 5 Saracens v Ospreys – Wembley Stadium Referee: Pascal Gauzere (F)
Sky Sports – Saffacens should win this easily. They are not as good or as dominant as last season but they have too much depth and class to lose this one.
Pool 5 Benetton Treviso v Biarritz Olympique Referee: JP Doyle (E)
Sky Italia / Sky Sports / Rugby+ / Sport+ ** – Biarritz with ease. The Basque outfit will probably send out their second side and still win by at 15.
Pool 6 Connacht Rugby v Gloucester Rugby Referee: Neil Paterson (S)
Sky Sports – Laugh, deep breathe, Laugh. Unless it is a hurricane will Connacht have a chance of only losing by less than 10.
SUNDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2011
Pool 3 Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier Referee: Greg Garner (E)
Sky Sports (i) / Sport+ – The Warriors are trying to get better while still being younger. Montpellier isn’t a French outfit that normally that scare sides. However, Glasgow should be afraid because they are the inferior side of the two.
Pool 3 Bath Rugby v Leinster Referee: Jerome Garces (F)
Sky Sports / Sport+ – The defending champs are showing their depth with no BOD or Horgan and the off-season lost of their Scottish lock. Bath can only try but the inevitable loss is coming…
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers Referee: Alain Rolland (I)
FR2 / Sky Sports – This maybe the match of the weekend. Clermont always put up a good fight and a great match. However, the Tigers have a knack for winning and you never can doubt the likelihood the French side will save some big guns for the domestic league.