European Champions Cup Quarter Final: Saturday Predictions

Leinster vs Bath:

This is set to be a truly defining match for both of these sides. Leinster will be desperate to prove that they are still the Leinster of old, the Leinster that captivated us with mouth-watering set piece moves and scintillating lines. Bath will be eager to show that they are capable of playing at the highest level, against some of the best opposition in Europe, despite their youth. For both, the season will really be judged on this match, win, and the season is a success, lose, and it is a failure.


Both sides have been bolstered by the return of their 6 Nations stars, and that is certainly obvious in the Leinster front row. Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, and Mike Ross all start two weeks after playing a major role in Ireland’s 40-10 win over Scotland. Ross will look to solidify the scrum against Paul James of Bath. Rob Webber was fantastic for England in the Autumn, and Bath can count on the services of Dave Attwood.  Jordi Murphy moves into the unfamiliar 6 shirt, with Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip set to get Leinster on the front foot time and time again. That will not be easy against the likes of Francois Louw and Leroy Houston, who will be attempting to do the same. O’Brien was immense against Scotland, and hopefully we will see more of the same from a now fully healthy Tullow Tank.  

Isaac Boss gets a start in the 9 shirt after a two try performance against Glasgow, while Jimmy Gopperth remains at 10, to the collective groan of many Leinster fans. They will be up against the razor sharp Bath duo of Micky Young and George Ford. Ford in particular has been the centerpiece of an excellent Bath attack, and Leinster must stop him if they are to win the game. Bath’s center pairing could give Leinster fits. At 12 Bath will have the electric presence of Kyle Eastmond, and outside him Jonathan Joseph starts at 13, after a very impressive 6 Nations. For Leinster, Ian Madigan offers a similar threat at 12, while Matt O’Connor has boldly selected that other league convert, Ben Te’o at 13. Te’o has been in good form for Leinster, as was exemplified by his try against Scarlets. Both teams have plenty of firepower in the back three, with Leinster choosing the trio of Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, and Rob Kearney. Fitzgerald will be a real danger man for the 12 County army unless injury strikes the young man, again. As for Bath, well their selection isn’t too shabby either, with Matt BanahanHoracio Agulla, and Anthony Watson all proven and potent finishers on this level.  

Off the bench Leinster can bring the likes of Jack McGrath and Dominic Ryan on to bolster the pack and Eoin Reddan will bring some real pace to the Leinster attack when he enters the fray. Bath have Sam Burgess on their bench, and without a doubt, when Leinster see him come on, they will run and hide, because, well, he’s Sam Burgess.

Leinster have been struggling this season whereas Bath have been on an all time high, couple this with the fact that Leinster havent always had their best performances in the Aviva stadium, Clermont in 2012, Northampton in 2013, Munster this season, we feel that Bath will just edge Leinster in this encounter.

Prediction: Bath 27- Leinster 22

Clermont Auvergne vs Northampton Saints:

 These are two of the most dominant teams in European rugby. Clermont have been among the most consistently excellent sides in both domestic and European rugby, and Northampton have been very good since their Aviva Premiership Final win over Sarries last season. Beating the French on French soil is a seemingly insurmountable feat, but if anyone can do it, its the Saints.

Both sides offer pretty potent front rows, with Vincent Debaty, Benjamin Kayser, and David Zirakashvili, squaring off against Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, and Salesi Ma’afu. Hartley has impressed us all with his newfound discipline, but given his spotless track record, we can’t really rule one out. We are also surprised Debaty was not moved out to the wing after his remarkable try against England. The Boom Brothers of Samu Manoa and Courtney Lawes will look to put in a few of their trademark massive hits, but Jamie Cudmore will be having none of it. Northampton’s  back row of Tom Wood, Calum Clark, and Sam Dickinson we put in a lot of work, but will doubtless have a fight on their hands against the likes of Damien Chouly and Fritz Lee.

In the backs, Clermont start Brock James, and the experienced Australian will want to show what he still has to offer. Lee Dickson and Stephen Myler make for a very good halfback pairing, and Kahn Fotuali’i is solid backup off the bench. Wesley Fofana and Jonathan Davies are experienced internationals and top class finishers, and probably hold a slight edge over Northamptons pairing of Luther Burrell and George Pisi. Burrell has been solid for England, but you have to wonder if Fofana is the type of x-factor player that can open him up. Northampton will have to deal without George North. North will be out for a month due to repeated concussions, which is a real shame given the young man’s remarkable talent. Northampton are also weakened by the loss of Ben Foden, but have still named an impressive back three. Jamie Elliott, Ken Pisi, and James Wilson are all experienced and talented players. Clermont have a deadly back three, all of whom have difficult to spell names. Napolioni NalagaNoa Nakaitaci, and Nick Abendanon are lightning quick and very dangerous. Nakaitaci was very dangerous against England, and will be eager to hold onto his spot in the upcoming World Cup.  

Alex Waller is a really talented young man, and is an excellent option for the Saints of the bench, and Ahsee Tuala will bring a lot of danger when he enters the pitch. Clermont can count on the experience of Thomas Domingo and Aurelien Rougerie, both impact players that could have a major impact on the final scoreline when they are brought in.

Without Camille Lopez, you could certainly argue that Northampton should be the favorites, however, on their turf, it’s not often the visitor can come away with a win, and you’d have to think that this fixture will be no different.

Prediction: Clermont 34- Northampton 26

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