Sunday 20 May 2007

Heineken Cup Final Preview

Leicester Tigers
1. Marcos Ayerza
2. George Chuter
3. Julian White
4. Louis Deacon
5. Ben Kay
6. Lewis Moody
7. Shane Jennings
8. Martin Corry (capt)
9. Frank Murphy
10. Andy Goode
11. Alesana Tuilagi
12. Daryl Gibson
13. Dan Hipkiss
14. Seru Rabeni
15. Geordan Murphy

London Wasps
1. Phil Vickery
2. Raphael Ibanez
3. Peter Bracken
4. Simon Shaw
5. Tom Palmer
6. Joe Worsley
7. Tom Rees
8. Lawrence Dallaglio (capt)
9. Eoin Reddan
10. Alex King
11. Tom Voyce
12. Josh Lewsey
13. Fraser Waters
14. Paul Sackey
15. Daniel Cipriani

Leicester, I'm going for the Tigers on this one for a few reasons. Firstly there is a preposterous amount of Irish players on their squad and I feel obliged to support the team with the greater Gaelic representation. Secondly Leicester have been ON FIRE the last couple of weeks. They decimated the Ospreys in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final (or whatever that joke competition is called) and they ripped Gloucester apart in the Premiership final. They'll be coming into Twickenham this afternoon on form and full of confidence. Which is kinda my third point too, Leicester have every right to be confident and comfortable in this situation, the club has won this tournament three times in recent years (5 players on the Leicester starting XV have won the Heineken twice: Moody, Corry, Murphy, Goode and Kay). They have the experience of playing at the highest levels of European rugby for years whereas Wasps are relative rookies. Finally, although it pains me to admit it, the bastards deserve it. They beat Munster in Thomond on the last weekend of the group stages to claw their way improbably into the knockout rounds, they overcame Stade in the quarters and then put an end to the Llanelli fairytale in the semis.

Wasps on the other hand had a comfortable group experience qualifying with relative ease from a pool containing Castres, Perpignan and Treviso. They beat a pathetic Leinster in the quarters and through the most fortunate of circumstances found themselves playing Northampton in the semis after the English team had upset the usually efficient Biarritz in the quarters. Wasps have coasted to the final where Leicester have struggled. They are a damn good team though and they'll utilise that blitz defence of theirs to quell the dangerous Leicester back three. Granted the Tigers probably know this and have been preparing themselves for an adoption of Munster style kick the corners game play. By doing this they can suck in and pummel the Wasps' pack into relenting and tiring, then later in the game they can let their backs run riot.

For their part Wasps will be looking to put the Leicester back division under pressure all day long. They will be wanting to keep the ball from the wings as much as humanly possible. The less time Tuilagi and Rambeni have on the ball the less of a threat to the Wasps' tryline. I'm expecting Wasps to try and meet the Leicester challenge upfront and force them into trying to spread the ball allowing the London side to take advantage of their aggressive defence to force mistakes from the Tigers' backline.

Anyway... Leicester to win.. I've been right all weekend so far 3/3 on rugby matches, btw EX-ANDREWS BOY STARTING IN A HEINEKEN CUP FINAL, GOOOOoooooOOOOOO BRACKEN!!

1 comment:

Macka said...

25-9 Wasps... bugger