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Turning into the Straight

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  • Turning into the Straight

    To use a Steeplechasing analogy, we have reached the turn into the straight, with two fences to be jumped. Some pacesetters are driving on, some are beginning to come back to the pack, some runners are tailed off and on the point of pulling up and some are motoring well in the middle of the pack preparing to launch their finishing burst. Who will stay the course, who will just barely make it over the line and who will find nothing under pressure and lose out?


    Pool One P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
    1 La Rochelle 4 3 0 1 127 94 33 15 13 3 0 15 4
    2 Ulster 4 3 0 1 105 79 26 11 10 1 0 13 6
    3 Wasps 4 2 0 2 100 81 19 13 9 2 0 10
    4 Harlequins 4 0 0 4 66 144 -78 9 16 1 1 2
    Remaining Fixtures:
    Sat 13th Jan 13:00 Ulster v La Rochelle; 17:30 Harlequins v Wasps
    Sun 21st Jan 15:15 Wasps v Ulster; La Rochelle v Harlequins.

    La Rochelle slipped up in Coventry, not even getting the Losing Bonus. They managed to win the Head to Head, though which could make all the difference next month. Five more points would keep them ahead of Wasps no matter what Wasps do. You would expect them to get those in the last round at home to Harlequins. Whether that would win the Pool would depend on how things go in Ravenhill in Round Five and in Coventry in Round Six. 20 points should be enough to qualify them one way or another (but see the three-way-tie scenario below)

    Ulster did that they had to do against Harlequins. They need to beat La Rochelle next time out and ideally overturn the Head to Head in which they trail by 5-0, 24 Points and three Tries. If they did all that, they would be three points ahead of La Rochelle and would need to get two points in Coventry to stay ahead.

    (If those two points were in a 5-2 loss, a fiver in Round Five for Wasps would put all three teams on 20 (Assuming La Rochelle get five in Round Six.)
    The Rules posted on the EPRC Site only deal with two teams finishing level at the end of the Pool Stages. In the previous version of the Competition, things would then have been decided on the six matches between the three. Ulster would win the Pool with second place being decided on Points Difference.
    We would then have a team on 20 point being eliminated and probably a team from a different Pool with fewer than 20 going through.)

    Any win or any draw in Coventry would then do Ulster. If they don’t overturn the Head to Head, they would need to beat Wasps to be sure of staying ahead of La Rochelle.

    As stated above, Wasps have lost the Head to Head against La Rochelle so they have to overtake their points total to pass them out. They, therefore, must get six points more than La Rochelle in the last two rounds. They must get two fivers and hope that La Rochelle only get four points from their last two games. Anything less means that La Rochelle must lose both games. (and even then, two 2-point losses would put La Rochelle through.)

    The only competition Harlequins are in at present is the battle with Northampton for the dubious honour of being the team with the worst points difference. At present they “trail” by eleven. They might pull a big performance out of the bag to mess up Wasps or La Rochelle, you never know.

    PK’s (Revised) Predictions
    La Rochelle 20
    Wasps 18
    Ulster 17
    Harlequins 2


    Pool Two P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
    1 Clermont 4 4 0 0 120 63 57 12 8 2 0 18 1
    2 Ospreys 4 2 0 2 130 109 21 17 15 3 2 13 7
    3 Saracens 4 2 0 2 128 117 11 17 11 2 1 11
    4 Northampton 4 0 0 4 67 156 -89 10 22 1 0 1
    13 Jan 17:30 Northampton v Clermont; 19:45 Ospreys v Saracens
    20 Jan 15:15 Saracens v Northampton; Clermont v Ospreys.

    Clermont are in Pole position, seven points ahead of Saracens having also won the Head to Head. If we assume, for the moment, that Saracens get two fivers, then three points would win Clermont the Pool on 21 points. Of course, 21 points would be more than enough to qualify Saracens also. The stake isn’t through the heart, just yet. Two Four pointers would leave them on 19 points and well in the hunt for a second place spot. It’s still all in their own hands and beating the Ospreys on Saturday would leave them only needing to match the Ospreys points total in Round 6 to stay ahead of them.
    Of course, if the Ospreys were to beat Sarries, then their (Sarries) possible maximum would be 18 points (11 + 2 + 5). Now Sarries won the first game between the two 36 (5T) -34 (4T) so if the Ospreys were to win 5-2 (or 4-1) and by three points or more, they would be on 18 (or 17) points, five points ahead of Sarries going into the last round, winning the Head to Head and uncatchable.
    Any other win for Ospreys except 4-2 would also be enough to put Saracens out.
    If Ospreys lose to Sarries, then they would need to win in Clermont while Sarries were losing in Northampton. Doubtful.

    See Pool one for Northampton.

    PK’s Predictions
    Clermont 26
    Saracens 20
    Ospreys 13
    Northampton 1

    Pool Three
    P
    W
    D
    L
    F
    A
    PD
    TF
    TA
    TB
    LB
    PTS
    Rank
    1 Leinster
    4
    4
    0
    0
    98
    60
    38
    11
    7
    2
    0
    18
    2
    2 Montpellier
    4
    2
    0
    2
    106
    99
    7
    15
    14
    3
    2
    13
    8
    3 Exeter
    4
    2
    0
    2
    76
    79
    -3
    9
    9
    0
    1
    9
    4 Glasgow
    4
    0
    0
    4
    81
    123
    -42
    11
    16
    1
    1
    2
    Saturday 13th Jan 15:15 Exeter vMontpellier; Sunday 14th JanLeinster v Glasgow
    Saturday 20th January 13:00 Glasgow v Exeter;Montpellier v Leinster

    Leinster need six more points to win the Pool. Three would do if they were all from the Montpellier game. Two would do if they were from a draw in Montpellier. Getting one point more in the RDS than Montpellier doin Sandy Park would also do.

    The best Montpellier can do is 23 points. That will only win them the Pool if Leinster fail to get six points from the last two rounds. 23 would be enough for a second placed spot.

    Montpellier need to get six points more than Leinster get in the last two rounds or five more if they overturn the Head to Head lead that Leinster currently enjoy (5-1, 7 Points and 2 tries.) They must match Leinster’s points in Round Five and win 5-0 or 4-0 in Round Six. 5-1 would also do but only if Leinster’s point was a Try Bonus. If it were a Losing Bonus, it would only do if they won by exactly seven and outscored Leinster by threeTries or more. If they outscored them by two tries it would go to Overall Points Difference, Overall Tries Scored, Sendings off and Upheld Citings and then a toss.

    Exeter can only win the Pool if they get two fivers, Leinster get no points and Montpelier only get six points max. from the last two rounds. Nineteen Points, their max., might get them through in second place but it mightn’t even get them second.

    If Exeter get two fivers, Leinster get one point and Montpellier get six in the last two rounds, all three would be on nineteen points. Leinster would win the three-way Head to Head with Exeter second and Montpellier out.

    Glasgow have had an awful competition. Their only hope of achieving anything would be to pull a performance out in the RDS or more likely in Round Six and mess up Leinster’s Ranking or Exeter’s qualification.

    PK’s Predictions
    Leinster 23
    Exeter 17
    Montpellier 17
    Glasgow 2

    Pool Four
    P
    W
    D
    L
    F
    A
    PD
    TF
    TA
    TB
    LB
    PTS
    Rank
    1 Munster
    4
    3
    1
    0
    89
    50
    39
    9
    5
    1
    0
    15
    3
    2 Racing
    4
    2
    0
    2
    71
    55
    16
    9
    6
    0
    2
    11
    10
    3 Castres
    4
    1
    1
    2
    69
    113
    -44
    8
    14
    1
    0
    7
    4 Leicester
    4
    1
    0
    3
    98
    109
    -11
    11
    12
    1
    1
    6
    Sunday 14th Jan 15:15 Racing v Munster; Castres v Leicester
    Sunday 21st Jan 13:00 Leicester v Racing; Munster v Castres

    Munster lead the Pool by four and need seven more points to win it. Any win (or three from a 3-2 draw) in Paris would also do.Two from a draw in Paris and three or more in Round Six would also do. Two in a loss in Paris would necessitate winning in Round Six to be sure.

    There are seven “One Point in Paris” scenarios:


    1. Losing Bonus
    1. 5-1. Teams are level going into the last round and Racing have won the Head to Head.Munster must get more Match Points in Thomond than Racing do in Leicester.
    2. 4-1,losing by six points or fewer. Munster are one point ahead having won the Head to Head. Any win in Thomond will do. Failing that, Munster can get one point fewer than Racing and still win the Pool.

    3. 4-1, losing by seven, Munster equal or better Racings Tries. Any win in Thomond will do. Failing that, Munster can get one point fewer than Racing and still win the Pool.
    4. 4-1, losing by seven, Racing score a try more than Munster. Munster are one point ahead and the Head to Head is level. If Munster get one point fewer than Racing in the last round, The Pool will be decided by Points Difference in all Pool matches. At the moment, Munster lead by 23. If that is level, Tries scored (9-9) will decide followed by upheld Citings and the Drawing of Lots.
    5. 4-1 losing by seven, Racing score two or more tries more than Munster. Munster are one point ahead having lost the Head to Head. A Fiver in Thomond will do. Failing that, Munster must match Racing’s Points.

    2.Tries Bonus

    1. 5-1.Teams are level going into the last round and Racing have won the Head to Head. Munster must get more Match Points in Thomond than Racing do in Leicester.
    2. 4-1.Munster are one point ahead having lost the Head to Head. A Fiver in Thomond will do. Failing that, Munster must match Racing’s Points.


    Racing need to overturn Munster’s lead in the Head to Head and get four points more than them in the last two Rounds. If they don’t overcome the Head to Head, they must get five points more than Munster do.

    Two fivers puts Castres on 17 points and needing Munster to get no more than two points and Racing to get no more than five inthe last two rounds. If Munster get two and Racing get six, all three teams will be on 17 points and the three-way Head to Head would put Munster out.

    Two fivers puts Leicester on 16 points. Munster must get no points and Racing must get four or fewer. If Munster get one and Racing get five, all three teams will be on 16 and the three-way Head to Head would win Munster the Pool.

    PK’s Predictions
    Munster 21
    Racing 15
    Castres 11
    Leicester 11

    Pool Five P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
    1 Bath 4 3 0 1 87 58 29 7 6 0 1 13 5
    2 Toulon 4 3 0 1 96 95 1 9 9 0 1 13 9
    3 Llanelli 4 2 0 2 97 79 18 13 8 2 2 12
    4 Treviso 4 0 0 4 69 117 -48 8 14 1 2 3
    Friday 12th Jan 19:45 Bath v Llanelli; Sunday 14th Jan 13:00 Toulon v Treviso
    Saturday 20th Jan 17:30 Llanelli v Toulon; Treviso v Bath

    Bath lead the table and have won the Head to Head over Toulon (by a point!). All of the top three have matters in their own hands. Two wins for any of them either wins the Pool or qualifies in second.

    Bath and Toulon have the advantage of a game against Treviso with Llanelli having to play the other two. Bath have the further advantage of having Llanelli at home with Toulon having to travel in Round Six.

    If we assume (danger here!!) that Toulon and Bath both beat Treviso, Toulon with a bonus and Bath without, then Toulon will have 18 and Bath 17 with the games v Llanelli not counted. Two wins for Llanelli would win the Pool on at least 20 with second place to be decided by Bonuses, if any. Two home wins would win Bath the Pool with at least 22 with Toulon on at least 18 and Llanelli on at least 16. Bonuses would again decide second place.

    PK's Predictions
    Toulon 22
    Bath 21
    Llanelli 14
    Treviso 4

    Based on those Predictions, (and I’m 28 for 40 so far in the Prediction Competition, so what do I know?) the Quarter-Finals would be :

    Clermont v Ulster/Exeter
    Leinster v Saracens
    Toulon v Bath
    Munster v La Rochelle

    Semi-Finals
    Clermont/Ulster/Exeter v Munster/La Rochelle. In France unless Ulster or Exeter and Munster win in which case it will be in Ireland or England depending on who is eighth.

    Leinster/ Saracens v Toulon /Bath. In Ireland if Leinster and Toulon win, otherwise in England.

    As things stand, The knock-out stages would be
    Quarter Finals
    Clermont v Montpellier
    Leinster v Ospreys
    Munster v Ulster
    La Rochelle v Bath

    Semi Finals
    Clermont/ Montpellier v La Rochelle / Bath. In England, if Bath win otherwise in France.

    Leinster / Ospreys v Munster or Ulster. In Wales if Ospreys and Munster win, otherwise in Ireland.
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