There are 7 teams that stand at 2-0 after the back-to-back weekends of pool play. However, of the Magnificent 7, a few truly stood out.
Clermont Auvergne: Of all the current pool-toppers, Clermont are the only team to have the maximum points. Their 10 pts underlines their ability to score at least 4 tries each game. Their squad is deep, with the flexibility to rotate top class international level players in almost all positions. However, they also know how to play an expansive game and look to score at every opportunity. This ability will see them finish with the #1 seed for the Quarter Finals.
Ulster: The Ulstermen are the only undefeated team in Europe. They are 5-0 in the Rabodirect Pro 12 and are 2-0 in the Heineken Cup. The players have managed this victory while still struggling with the Nevin Spence tradegy. With that misfortune as motivation and top-drawer coach like Mark Anscombe steering young players like Paddy Jackson (20 yr. old), this squad has found its feet and understands the magnitude of the matches. They may be very good for a long time.
Saracens: Their defense first and and offense last game-plan has made the quite a few enemies from those that love free-flowing rugby. Considering the results, however, winning ugly is still and winning. They won’t change until someone proves that style ineffective. Right now, it’s trench warfare anytime the Sarries are on the pitch.
This list is of teams where much was/is expected, but have disappointed.
Leinster: This is what happens when you create a style of play called Leinstertainment. People have expectations of what they want to see. Leinster are also the defending Heineken Cup champions. They certainly didn’t look like champions against Exeter, where they lucky to walk away with a victory at home. They looked better on the road at Scarlets but didn’t set the house on fire. We are all waiting for them to shift up a couple of gears and the have their real class show.
Edinburgh: Wow, would you believe that last year’s semifinalist just lost 22-0 to Munster?! They made some Munster veterans look like there were spring chickens. It was embarrassing and one of those where you kind of feel sorry for the other team.
Northhampton Saints: There were disappointing because they could and should be 2-0. But they don’t know how to put teams to the sword. They faced a Castres team that lost to Ulster. The difference between them and Castres wasn’t huge, but the Saints just looked tired and ready to crumble as the game wore. They came on in the end but it was too little too late.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.