Heineken Cup Previews


TODAY Pool One Edinburgh v Saracens,Murrayfield (1.35, Sky Sports, red button)

Last season’s beaten semi-finalists Edinburgh will be hoping to get a good start to the campaign. The Scottish side like to play a wide game and in Tim Visser have a potent finisher. Charlie Hodgson gives Saracens more variety and subtlety but it might not be enough.

EDINBURGH: T Brown; L Jones, N De Luca, M Scott, T Visser; G Laidlaw, R Rees; J Yapp, R Ford, W Nel; G Gilchrist, S Cox; D Denton, R Rennie, S McInally.

SARACENS: A Goode; C Ashton, J Tomkins, B Barritt, D Strettle; C Hodgson, R Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, S Brits, M Stevens; S Borthwick, M Botha; K Brown, W Fraser, J Wray.

Verdict: Edinburgh.

Pool Five

Clermont Auvergne v Scarlets,Stade Marcel Michelin (3.40, Sky Sports red button)

The French side boast a truly stunning playing roster but Simon Easterby will encourage his Scarlets to utilise the talents of a super backline and backrow. The Welsh side look a little short of power in tight five.

CLERMONT AUVERGNE: L Byrne; S Sivivatu, A Rougerie, W Fofana, N Nalaga; B James, M Parra; T Domingo, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili; J Cudmore, N Hines; G Vosloo, J Bonnaire, D Chouly.

SCARLETS: L Williams; G North, J Davies, S Williams, M Stoddart; R Priestland, T Knoyle; P John, M Rees, S Lee; G Earle, J Snyman; A Shingler, J Turnbull, R McCusker.

Verdict: Clermont Auvergne

Pool Three

Harlequins v Biarritz Olympique,The Stoop (6.0, live on Sky Sports 1)

Conor O’Shea was furious with his side’s performance in their league defeat to the Exeter Chiefs last weekend and so it’s reasonable to expect a backlash this evening. Biarritz have opted to keep a number of front-line players on the bench. Harlequins should have more than enough in hand to claim victory.

HARLEQUINS: M Brown; T Williams, M Hopper, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans, D Care; J Marler, R Buchanan, J Johnston; O Kohn, G Robson; M Fa’asavalu, C Robshaw, N Easter.

BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE: I Balshaw; T Ngwenya, D Haylett-Petty, S Burotu, A Brew; M Berquist, Y Lesgourgues; F Barcella, A Heguy, F Gomez Kodela; E Lund, T Dubarry; M Lund, W Lauret, T Gray.

Verdict: Harlequins.


Pool Four

Northampton v Glasgow Warriors,Franklin’s Gardens (12.45, live on Sky Sports 1)

The Saints had been in good form until last weekend when they were thumped by London Irish. The home side should have a little bit too much power up front and that will take its toll, especially when they have a strong bench as well.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: J Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi, D Waldouck, V Artemyev; S Myler, L Dickson; H Tongauiha, D Hartley, B Mujati; S Manoa, C Lawes; P Dowson, T Wood, Rhys Oakley.

EDINBURGH: S Hogg; T Seymour, A Dunbar, P Horne, S Lamont; R Jackson, H Pyrgos; R Grant, D Hall, M Cusack; T Swinson, A Kellock; J Strauss, J Barclay, R Wilson.

Verdict: Northampton Saints.

Pool Six

Sale Sharks v Cardiff Blues, Salford City stadium (12.45, Sky Sports 1 red button)

The home side will be looking for a change of fortune having lost all six league matches. Tony Buckley starts at tighthead, Cillian Willis is on the bench while former Munster centre Sam Tuitupou is in the centre. The Welsh side should really fancy this one.

SALE: R Miller; M Jennings, W Addison, S Tuitupou, M Cueto; N MacLeod, N Fowles; E Lewis-Roberts, T Taylor, T Buckley; R Gray, F McKenzie; R Vernon, D Seymour, A Powell.

CARDIFF: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, G Evans, J Roberts, T James; C Sweeney, L Williams; T Filise, M Breeze, B Bourrust; B Davies, L Reed: J Navidi, S Warburton, A Pretorius.

Verdict: Cardiff Blues

Pool Two

Toulouse v Leicester Tigers,Le stadium (3.0, Irish time, live on Sky Sports 1)

Undoubtedly the game of the weekend that pits the tournament’s perennial heavyweights against each other. Former Leinster academy wing and Irish underage international Niall Morris starts on the right wing for the Tigers. The visitors to get a bonus point . . . at least.

TOULOUSE: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, F Fritz, G Fickou, Y Huget; L McAlister, JM Doussain; G Steenkamp, G Botha, C Johnston; R Millo-Chluski, Y Maestri; Y Nyanga, T Dusautoir, L Picamoles.

LEICESTER TIGERS: S Hamilton; N Morris, M Tuilagi, A Allen, V Goneva: T Flood, B Youngs; L Mulipola, T Youngs, D Cole; G Kitchener, G Parling; S Mafi, T Waldrom, J Crane.

Verdict: Toulouse

Pool Six

Toulon v Montpellier,Stade Felix Mayol (8.0, live on Sky Sports 2)

Toulon, French rugby’s biggest spenders can field a team that should guarantee a bonus-point victory. Montpellier have elected to leave their giant Georgian Mamuka Gorgodze on the bench. It should be a five point haul for the home side.

TOULON: D Armitage: V Martin, M Mermoz, M Giteau, D Smith; J Wilkinson, F Michalak; A Sheridan, S Bruno, C Hayman; B Botha, J Suta; P Gunther, S Armitage, C Masoe.

MONTPELLIER: L Amorosino; Y Audrin, M Carraro, Paul Bosch, Y Artru; A N Other, J Tomas; Y Watremez, M Ladhuie, M Bustos; D Hancke, M Demarco: A Bias, R Martin, J Beattie.

Verdict: Toulon.

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