DUBLIN, IRELAND – With surprising suddenness, the final weekend of pool play has arrived in the Heineken Cup. For some teams, including the sixth round of fixtures offers an opportunity to redeem a lost campaign and play spoiler, while others, such as Leicester and Ulster, have all to play for. The same could be said of our panelists, for whom this will serve as the last, best chance to make up ground before the quarterfinals commence.
Last weekend held major developments for the Six Pack. As a quick, final reminder this season our expert panel consists of West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, England’s knight of the realm Jamie Loyd, The English East Midlands Machiavellian Rugger Nick Hall, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, the Irish Born-Castres residing, lean(ish), mean(ish) writing machine, James Harrington and contrived Kiwi Co-Host, Johnathan Wicklow Barberie.
After a stellar round five, JWB remains in front, but Hall is now close on his heels. JWB’s bold picks this week include being the lone man to choose Gloucester over Perpignan, while the match between Ulster and Leicester will decide whether he or Hall wind up on top after pool play. It must be noted that Hall’s comeback from fourth position following round three has been meteoric. James Harrington is a mere match behind the pair, and though his loyalty to hometown Castres has not served him well, he will hope that this week will provide a breakthrough for the French side against a desperate Northampton Saints outfit. Jamie Loyd is tied with James, on the back of his 9-3 record last weekend, while Junoir and Declan bring up the rear. Declan remains devoted to his years long quest to prove Ireland’s supremacy, serving as the only panelist to pick Connacht, while Junoir has taken a risk by selecting Scarlets in their match against Harlequins. Without further ado, here are this week’s picks from our Heineken Cup experts…
As always, the Six Pack has provided a glimpse into the madness, giving dubious justifications for their “Picks of the Week.”
JWB: Les Hosts will make foie gras of the “game” but overmatched Italians, who succumb to the French egg-chasers and ultimately… quack.
Hall: Scarlets may be a little bit distracted by the “Civil War” brewing in Wales, while Quins will be looking to make amends for their close loss to Clermont last week.
Junoir: Toulouse still need the win to get a home seed in the quaters and the Italians don’t have much in them for this contest. Expect Toulouse to put them away early so they can rest the key players for Top14 action.
Yeats: The Mighty Men of Munster will put Edinburgh to the sword…the Scots won’t know what hit them.
James: Castres have let me down for the last time. I’m going with the more reliable Clermont to triumph in convincing fashion versus a Racing Metro side in absolute disarray.
Loyd: Toulouse playing Zebre? I’m adding a bit of challenge for them, hoping they’ll beat the Italians by a huge margin.
That’s it for now… feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd and Declan Yeats, respectively.