they beat Gloucester they will qualify again and probably in fifth place position. Again the Devonians have excelled. Baxter's reputation grows rapidly.
A successful 65 minutes against Zebre does not prove one should be the Lions test ten. A command performance on Saturday might ease nerves in the Lions camp. A class act, he has to show he is as good now as he was before his injury. The game will be worth watching just to analyse his form it'll also be worth watching for so much more.
The Wilkinson factorTo try and play too much rugby in their own half is to bring the referee's whistle and Jonny Wilkinson's boot into the equation. That is not a good recipe for winning rugby. Leicester were undone by a startling display of goal kicking the like of which Owen Farrell lacks the distance to match.
If Wilkinson is going backwards and trying to bring his centres into play, not even Matt Giteau will extricate Toulon from a losing retreat. Saracens has the game to win but Toulon has an array of highly skilled off loading players able to strike from anywhere. Leicester's defence was heroic to keep them try less in the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Master Co-axial quarter final. The reliance on kicks was more credit to defence than any debit against the French attack.
Simon Zebo, perhaps Donncha Ryan too. Victory in Clermont could throw all Warren Gatland's preconceptions overboard. Such is the size of the challenge.
Nor will Toulon freeze. They have a team of men who thrive rather than shrink from the big occasion and in club rugby few will come bigger than Twickenham next Sunday. Saracens has the game to win but Toulon the individuals to make that conclusion anything but a foregone one. My money will not be leaving my pockets.
He too will kick his pressure goals but Saracens need him within range and Wilkinson outside his. The quality of the Saracens line out for whom Steve Borthwick appears to get better and better and a Toulon scrum that did more than creak against Leicester offers hope that a solid enough platform will be put in place to allow Richard Wigglesworth (presumably) to tease the Toulon back three with his array of tactical kicks.
performers who showed how good they can be when they are bothered at Bath.
Stuart, What youngsters would you like to see going to Argentina? Also what are you looking for and/or expecting from England ?STUART REPLIES: Charlie, If Christian Wade is not in Australia he and Jonny May should be the Test wingers in South America. I would like to see Matt Kvesic and Will Fraser each given a test on the open side. They would be my immediate picks. I am looking for a game with more variety and fluidity and expecting a tough series which is precisely what these youngsters and players like Billy Twelvetrees need.
If they lose to a Gloucester team who secured their return to the Heineken by beating Saracens, it will take another Saracens loss at home to Bath to prevent Exeter qualifying.
Despite losing in the West Country it would be a shock for them to drop a home game even with a home play off assured. Bath' season best against Leicester keeps them in with a shout, or maybe a whisper.
I have written Munster off before and suffered much deserved and mainly good hearted abuse form Munster fans ever since I forecast they would be swept away by Perpignan. Any team with Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara on board gets my respect.
There is not a more improved player in the Premiership. His performance at Wasps and his recent masterclass against Harlequins were up there with the best balanced efforts from a ten in English rugby.
Hook's chance to shineDewi is heading to Catalonia to call an all French semi final with Perpignan looking to repeat their powerful quarter final performance against Toulouse with a dominant display against Stade Francais who keep trying to qualify for the Heineken via the Amlin. Sergio Parisse heads a star cast of under Omega Seamaster Professional Chronometer 300m 1000ft
RespectOffer me a decent price and I would empty them and put the house on Clermont in Saturday's semi final. Munster were heroic against Harlequins but Harlequins are currently not inhabiting the same playing stratosphere as a Clermont team that thrashed Toulouse as a warm up to the semi final.
In the Amlin Munster's great rivals, Leinster, face another French team in the semi final. Good as Biarritz was at Gloucester they are not in the same class as Clermont. Home advantage should secure a berth in the final as long as Joe Schmidt's team keep pressure on the masterly Dimitri Yachvilli and do not kick aimlessly to Biarritz's blistering back three.
For all the fire power at its disposal the back three are not renowned on the counter attack and with Delon Armitage always likely to blow a fuse a barrage of kicks is no bad idea. Saracens has a great chase game and a remarkable ability to keep the pressure on the opposition with its swarm defence.
Wesley Fofana: danger man in the centre for Clermont
The former champions of Europe were both outplayed and out thought by Rob Baxter in the changing room and a sharp witted team brilliantly (again) marshalled from fly half by Gareth Steenson.
Munster will have to engulf their opponents at the breakdown (risking much in the process), dominate the line outs and kick their goals. Conor Murray is perhaps playing for a Lions place. A masterful performance in Montpellier would clinch it. The same might just be said for both Peter O'Mahony and Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon Price
Munster has a fantastic European record and the sheer overwhelming quality of the home team works in their favour. If Omega Speedmaster Small Wrist
Munster has a fantastic European record and the sheer overwhelming quality of the home team works in their favour. It truly is a nothing to lose scenario, so strong and fancied are Clermont.
For Perpignan, James Hook could be playing for a slot as Lions utility player. I hope Hook makes the plane. I have reservations about his reading of a game at ten but recent weeks hint at a new, mature game and the bloke can rip up a field with his skills from either centre position or full back.
The Northern Hemisphere's elite competition may be the victim of sporting politics off the field but on it the action remains compelling. Even before a ball is kicked in anger over the semi final weekend, Exeter played their Heineken trump card and delivered a stunning knock out verdict at Wasps.
Saracens for all their famed focus must have had one eye on the forthcoming clash with Toulon at Twickenham on Sunday. Eighty minutes from a Heineken Cup final, they have to drown the murmurs of discontents from their critics aside and play a brutally direct game of rugby.
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