DUBLIN, IRELAND – The Heineken Cup is in full swing and Dirty Dublin is smack dab in the center of it all. Aviva Stadium will be rocking when ASM Clermont Auvergne trots out onto the pitch against the lads of Leinster, so we’re giving you a tad extra today. On top of the picks of our esteemed Expert Panel, there’s a preview of the whole tournament and a review of the hot/cold team of the first two rounds. With that, let’s look at the match-ups for this weekend. Projected winners in bold.
Munster at Saracens – Make sure you avoid watching the match. I have been to more interesting funerals than what these two teams served up last week. In a penalty-kicking contest, I expect Saracens to win at home.
Racing Metro at Edinburgh – Edinburgh look to be finally righting the ship and putting out decent performances. It wasn’t enough to help them win and it won’t be enough this week.
Leicester at Treviso – Last week’s win by Leicester against Treviso at home had the Leicester coach spitting nails as he felt they didn’t dominate enough to his liking. They will be looking to do so this week.
Toulouse at Ospreys – Almost the same as Scarlets/Exeter except Toulouse is established as one of the greatest clubs in Europe.
Connacht at Biarritz – I know the Biarritz performance last week was disgusting considering the injury tally that Connacht are trying to play through. But being home, we should see a more spirited effort.
Zebre at Harlequins – Harlequins are one of the classiest sides in Europe and the reigning English Champs. Meanwhile Zebre is Zebre… a newly formed Italian franchise. Says it all.
Glasgow at Castres – Glasgow still seem to struggle on offence and though Castres defence is good but not great, it will be good enough with their okay attack to get them a victory.
Northampton at Ulster – Much like Biarritz, N’Hampton put forth a very poor display. What’s worse is that it was at home. They could be minus captain Dylan Hartley, pending his citing hearing. Either way, Ravenhill will be rocking and Ulster will remain undefeated.
Scarlets at Exeter – The Welsh Regions have looked very poor this season. I expect it to continue while Exeter continue their rise as one of the top clubs in England and Europe.
Clermont at Leinster – Last week Leinster could have stolen a draw, if J-Sex (Johnny Sexton – apologies in advance to Declan Yeats for trying to make his name more cool) didn’t try and get cheeky and steal a win with a cross-field kick instead of pen. Leinster haven’t been themselves this season mainly due to injury. However, to play Clermont so close on the road makes it very believable they can win at home.
Cardiff at Montpellier – You could paste my Scarlets/Exeter preview here, word for word. ‘Pellier are on their way to being a top side and Cardiff will be their latest victim.
Sale at Toulon – Considering the massacre expected, last week’s 17-6 lost was a moral victory for Sale. At home this time, Toulon will likely get the massacre their fans expected.
Okay… Now on to our Expert Panel and the results of their Heineken Cup Picks!
Just to review, the Panel is comprised of West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Ireland’s quick-witted fly-half (that’s redundant) Kevin Fegan, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, feisty French #8 Pyk O’Kallapfer and contrived Kiwi Johnathan Wicklow Barberie. They all must pick the winners of each match and a Pick Of The Week, for which they must also provide the margin of victory.
P.s… As usual, Declan called in while standing in manure…
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.