Friday 11 May 2007

Cardiff - Leinster

I'm usually not a fan of the Magners league, mainly because the quality of rugby in it is somewhat poor and most of the better players seem to be constantly on international duty or resting for the Heineken cup. In the last few days It has been brought to my attention that Leinster stand poised to claim a second title in six years. They currently stand top of the table with 61 points, the Ospreys are in second with 60 and Cardiff are third with 58. Seeing as Leinster play Cardiff away obviously an Irish win eliminates the Welsh team from contention and vice versa. Ideally Conto and crew need to come away from Cardiff with a bonus point too lest the Ospreys beat Edinburgh in Scotland (a distinct possibility) and attain a bonus point which could leave them theoretically tied with Leinster on 65.

Basically, Leinster need to go to Cardiff and beat 'em whilst scoring four tries and getting the bonus point to claim the title.

15: Ben Blair
14: Rhys Williams
13: Jamie Robinson
12: Marc Stcherbina
11: Chris Czekaj
10: Nick Robinson
9: Mike Phillips

1: Gethin Jenkins
2: Gareth Williams
3: Gary Powell
4: Deiniol Jones
5: Robert Sidoli
6: Mark Lewis
7: Robin Sowden-Taylor
8: Xavier Rush CAPTAIN

15: Girvan Dempsey
14: Rob Kearney
13: Shane Horgan
12: Gordon D’Arcy
11: Denis Hickie
10: Felipe Contepomi CAPTAIN
9: Guy Easterby*

1: Reggie Corrigan
2: Bernard Jackman
3: Will Green
4: Trevor Hogan
5: Malcolm O’Kelly
6: Stephen Keogh
7: Keith Gleeson
8: Jamie Heaslip

Cardiff are tenacious at home so Leinster face a colossal task to just beat the Welsh outfit let alone put four tries past them. On paper they look like a poor man's Leinster, an average back and a potentially devastating backlne. No Martyn Williams at openside will be as huge a loss for Cardiff as O'Driscoll is for Leinster. With that disruptive force at the breakdown removed the Leinster backline should see much more ball. That really is the key to beating Leinster to, to stifle that backline but I'm not sure the Cardiff pack is capable of doing that for 80 minutes.

And whilst the Cardiff backs are no slouches they are nowhere near the calibre on display opposite them, I'm not exactly sure, just looking at the teams, how Cardiff plan on winning this one. They usually adopt a bullying kind of play at home but I don't think that the Cardiff eight are as physical as Hogan or Keogh, Leinster are well suited to cope with such hardnose tactics. Take it to the backs and O'Driscoll or not, the Leinster backline is vastly superior to the Cardiff one. Philips and Blair are probably the only two real threats I can see on that entire team

So I'm going out on a limb and calling Leinster to win this one... withOUT a bonus point, the whole Cardiff being at home thing worries me somewhat

No comments: