HEINEKEN CUP SEMI-FINALS
Edinburgh v Ulster
I can’t see past Ulster for this one.
The Irish province had a big win over Leicester when they needed a big performance in the group stages and then went to Munster and beat their fellow Irishmen at Thomond Park.
It is clear that they are geared up to try and prove to everyone that they really are a force to be reckoned with in European rugby.
With a host of key South Africans and some big names from the Irish national side, I would be surprised if Ulster didn’t win this quite comfortably.
Edinburgh did tremendously well to beat Toulouse in the quarter-finals but, you have to think they might have already played their final in that game.
I’ll eat humble pie if I’m proved wrong.
Clermont v Leinster
For me, this is the game of the weekend by a mile and it is a shame that the sides can’t meet in the final, instead of the last four, because they have been the best teams in Europe this season.
Clermont have unbelievable riches both in the bank and on the pitch. They could easily play two first teams with the strength and depth they have in their squad.
But Leinster are very well coached, have experience in winning big games and, crucially for me, can adapt their game whatever the weather or opposition to get the job done.
The game will be played in France but not at Clermont’s imposing Stade Marcel Michelin and that will hurt them. They never lose there and to be taken away from their spiritual home will take away that sense of invincibility.
It’s tough to call but I just think Leinster have too much experience and big-game know-how. French sides tend to go into their shells on the big day – look at Toulouse in Edinburgh in the last round – and I just feel Leinster have the edge. It will be close but I can see the Irish side nicking it.
There look like being plenty of home wins in the Super 15s this weekend and two of them could be seen as shocks.
I think the Lions will beat the Brumbies, who have flattered to deceive this year and the Cheetahs will see off former leaders, the Highlanders in a close one.
The handicaps from bwin.com for the Tryg's predictions are Ulster -6.5, Leinster +1.5, Lions +1.5, Cheetahs -1.5.