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Heineken Cup Preview & Qualification lowdown & Predictions

If this is to be the last ever Heineken Cup then at least it is looking like once again it is going to be a thriller as we head into the business end of the Pool stages.

With two rounds left to go no team is as yet looking home and hosed, with only Munster looking truly comfortable, they hold a five point lead over Gloucester, whom they play at Kingsholm on Saturday evening – a win there would almost certainly see them qualify outright.

Leinster and Clermont both have four point leads, though only Clermont’s is likely to prove telling this weekend as they make the trip to the Stoop to take on their nearest challengers, Harlequins.

Elsewhere, Toulon have a two point lead over Cardiff in Pool Two, and Ulster lead Leicester by three in Pool Five. The focus of much of the attention will be on Toulouse v Saracens in Pool Four though. They are both tied at the top on fifteen points, and with Connactht and Zebre the other two sides in their Pool it has to be assumed that they will win next weekend, making their game this weekend a winner takes all affair.

Below we have all of this weekend’s fixtures, including where you can see them, as well as the tables as they stand and a summary of each pool.

Let us know what you think of this season’s Heineken Cup – who do you think will reach the quarter finals? @FifteenRugbyXV is the place to reach us!

Pool One:

Sunday – Castres v Leinster 12.45 (Sky Sports Red Button)

Sunday – Ospreys v Northampton Saints 12.45 (Sky Sports 2)

Heineken Cup Pool One

Pos

Team

Played

W

D

L

Bonus

Points

1

Leinster

4

3

0

1

1

13

2

Northampton Saints

4

2

0

2

1

9

3

Castres

4

2

0

2

0

8

4

Ospreys

4

1

0

3

1

5

There’s still plenty to play for here. A win for Leinster would leave them looking very comfortable indeed, however Castres away is not the easiest venue in the world, as the rest of the Top 14 found out to their peril last year. Their nearest rivals, Northampton, have to travel to the Ospreys, which is far from easy as well so if results go their way it is possible that Leinster could qualify this weekend.

Prediction – Leinster to qualify in Round 6.

Pool Two:

Saturday – Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow 15.00

Saturday – Toulon v Cardiff Blues 15.40 (Sky Sports 2)

Heineken Cup Pool Two

Pos

Team

Played

W

D

L

Bonus

Points

1

Toulon

4

3

0

1

3

15

2

Cardiff Blues

4

3

0

1

1

13

3

Exeter Chiefs

4

1

0

3

3

7

4

Glasgow Warriors

4

1

0

3

2

6

This Pool has remained surprisingly tight but it would still remain a huge surprise if Toulon were not to qualify. A win over Cardiff would almost certainly secure that, and definitely would if they either gain a bonus point or prevent Cardiff from gaining one. If Cardiff win though then this will go right down to the wire.

Prediction – Toulon to qualify on Saturday.

Pool Three:

Saturday – Connacht v Zebre 15.40 (Sky Sports Red Button)

Sunday – Toulouse v Saracens 15.00 (Sky Sports 2)

Heineken Cup Pool Three

Pos

Team

Played

W

D

L

Bonus

Points

1

Toulouse

4

3

0

1

3

15

2

Saracens

4

3

0

1

3

15

3

Connacht

4

2

0

2

1

9

4

Zebre

4

0

0

4

0

0

This is all about Toulouse v Saracens on Sunday. The winner of that will almost certainly qualify, though the loser will still be in with a strong chance of taking one of the top second place spots. Connacht will be dangerous for Saracens in the 6th Round but Saracens should still win anyway so Toulouse know they need to beat Saracens on Sunday.

Prediction – Both Toulouse & Saracens to qualify. Toulouse top.

Pool Four:

Friday – Racing Metro v Scarlets 20.00 (Sky Sports Red Button)

Saturday – Harlequins v Clermont Auvergne 13.35 (Sky Sports 2)

Heineken Cup Pool Four

Pos

Team

Played

W

D

L

Bonus

Points

1

Clermont Auvergne

4

3

0

1

3

15

2

Harlequins

4

2

0

2

3

11

3

Scarlets

4

1

1

2

0

6

4

Racing Metro 92

4

1

1

2

0

6

If Clermont beat Harlequins on Saturday they will qualify, and even if they do not they are still likely to go through as a top second placed team. Quins are the only side who can realistically keep them off top spot though, which should make Saturday very good viewing.

Prediction – Clermont to qualify, probably on Saturday but Quins may delay them until next round.

Pool Five:

Friday – Ulster v Montpellier 20.00 (Sky Sports 2)

Saturday – Treviso v Leicester 13.35 (Sky Sports Red Button)

Heineken Cup Pool Five

Pos

Team

Played

W

D

L

Bonus

Points

1

Ulster

4

4

0

0

2

18

2

Leicester Tigers

4

3

0

1

3

15

3

Montpellier

4

1

0

3

2

6

4

Treviso

4

0

0

4

0

0

Ulster have to assume that Leicester will bag a maximum against Treviso, who have looked hapless this year, meaning that qualification in this pool is likely to have to wait until the final round when the two giants at the top of the Pool play each other at Welford Road.

Prediction – Near enough impossible but Ulster have a 3 point advantage so Ulster to secure it next weekend. Maybe.

Pool Six:

Saturday – Edinburgh v Perpignan 18.00 (Sky Sports Red Button)

Saturday – Gloucester v Munster 18.00 (Sky Sports 2)

Heineken Cup Pool Six

Pos

Team

Played

W

D

L

Bonus

Points

1

Munster

4

3

0

1

2

14

2

Gloucester

4

2

0

2

1

9

3

Edinburgh

4

2

0

2

0

8

4

Perpignan

4

1

0

3

3

7

If Munster can win at Kingsholm tomorrow then that will almost certainly secure qualification, and they are surely favourites to do just that. It would take some seriously impressive displays from the rest of the group to manage to hold them off.

Prediction – Munster to qualify on Saturday.

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