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Heineken Cup preview

Mike Coleman

 

A look at what to expect as the Heineken Cup gets underway

The Heineken Cup has been a mixed bag so far for Irish fans. Two teams have been performing as well, if not better than expected and two have been somewhat lacklustre.

Both Connacht and Ulster have surprised a few this year with some great performances, and with Ulster topping their pool and Connacht still in with a chance of qualifying it has been a good season so far.

Connacht need to get a result against Biarritz on the 7th of December, which is no easy task, to have a hope of qualifying. Indeed, the fact that they still have hope is an amazing achievement for the province that was nearly abolished not too long ago.

Playing Biarritz won’t be easy, but they have a chance of getting a result at home if the crowd get behind them.

Meanwhile Ulster are sitting pretty at the top of their pool and a win against Northampton on December 7th would guarantee their progression. This won’t be easy but with recent form and performances in European competition it’s hard to see them dropping points.

Leinster sit second in their pool, two points behind leaders Clermont. The fact that their next opponents are Clermont could help them as a win would all but guarantee their progression.

That said the blues have missed Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney in their absence, though and this could hinder their chances against the French giants on December 9th.

Munster are second in their pool and in a precarious situation. Should they fail to beat Saracens, who top the pool, on December 8th they will have a lot of work to do in order to progress.

The Thomond Park outfit have been nowhere near the form we saw a couple of years ago and have greatly missed their talisman Paul O’Connell.

Both Ulster and Leinster should have no problem getting out of their pools but Connacht, who have surprised more than a few this year, and Munster have a few tough games ahead with both teams needing a win in the upcoming round of fixtures.

Image via Wynnert on Flickr

 

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