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    Pool One: Castres, Leinster, Northampton, Ospreys.

    The proverbial Pool of Death. It's not inconceivable that all four teams would end up on three wins each. Whoever wins away will win this Pool. Failing that, an away draw, a two point loss or even any bonus point could make the difference.
    A lot, of course will depend on Castres's attitude to their away matches. If they were to send over the seconds for any or all of their matches, the lucky opponent(s) on the day(s) could fill their boots and benefit.
    An awful lot will be revealed on Saturday. Two home wins for me, both 4-1.

    Pool Two: Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow Toulon.

    This would appear to be straightforward for the holders with the only real opposition being provided by Glasgow. I fancy them to remain unbeaten until the final match in Glasgow, by which time they will be qualified with Glasgow needing the win to join them. Two home wins on Saturday 4 or maybe 5-0 to Toulon, 4-1 to Exeter.

    Pool Three: Connacht, Saracens, Toulouse, Zebre.

    While I would love to see Connacht beat Sarries (preferrably away) I can't see it happening. A two-horse race here with both Sarries and ST going through. I fancy ST to come first. 5-0 to ST and 4-0 to Sarries on Friday.

    Pool Four: Clermont, Harlequins, Racing, Scarlets.

    Another Pool of Death but not as bad as Pool One. I can see Scarlets getting hidings from the others who will all take points off each other. An away win or a draw among the top three will win the Pool. Failing that it will come down to bonusses, probably losing ones. Two home wins at the weekend 5-0 to 'Quins, 4-1 to Racing.

    Pool Five: Leicester, Montpellier, Treviso, Ulster.

    Leicester and Ulster will slug it out for top spot here. Whichever of them does better in France will progress. Montpellier, were in with Toulon and Cannon Fodder last year and will find it a lot harder, this time. I can't see them winning twice away this time. Indeed, they may well not win away at all. If there are to be any surprises, next weekend one could be Saturday Lunchtime. 4-1 to Ulster and Treviso.

    Pool Six: Edinburgh, Gloucester, Munster, Perpignan.

    On current form, Munster should win at least five matches in this Pool, possibly losing to USAP before Christmas. It doesn't always happen like that, of course. Again, it will come down to the attitude of the French. Gloucester are struggling domestically at the moment and a lot will hinge on next Saturdays game in Kingsholm. 4-1 to Glaws and 5-0 to Munster for me.

    Final Tables
    Pool 1
    Saints 15, Leinster 15, Castres 14, Ospreys 12.
    Pool 2
    Toulon 23, Glasgow 20, Exeter 8, Cardiff 6.
    Pool 3
    Sarries 24, Toulouse 24, Connacht 9, Zebre 1.
    Pool Four
    Quins 19, Racing 19, Clermont 19, Scarlets 3.
    Pool Five
    Leicester 18, Ulster 18, Montpellier 15 Treviso 6
    Pool Six
    Munster 22, USAP 18, Glaws 14 Embra 3

    The Quarter Finals would then be:
    Sarries/Toulouse v Glasgow
    Toulon v Toulouse/Sarries
    Munster v Saints/Leinster
    Quins/Racing/Clermont v Leicester /Ulster

    with Quins/Racing/Clermont, Leicester /Ulster and USAP going into the Amlin.

    Errors and Omissions excepted, Stocks and shares may fall as well as rise, this analysis is NOT under any circumstances regulated by the Financial Services, or indeed any other, Authority.
    Last edited by Piquet; 13th-December-2013, 18:09.

    Good analysis, I agree that it's very likely that the runners-up spots will end up going to Pools 2 and 3 as they'll be picking up bonus points left right and centre, which is very depressing for teams who are better than Glasgow/Saracens in the likes of Pool 1 but could be slugging it out for Amlin at best.

    Pool 1 is a reminder of just how exciting the HEC is even at group stages, it's not a competition that only gets going in the spring. It's also a reminder of how lucky (on paper) Munster are this season and how we MUST accept nothing less than a home QF given the lucky draw.

    I agree with your take on Pool 4, it'll be tough on Scarlets who aren't a bad side themselves.


      Exeter really had a good cut off it last year and were unlucky not to win in the RDS against admittedly a very poor Leinster performance, could cause problems in that pool
      My computer thinks I'm gay
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        I've been out of commission recently so this is a very quick summary/preview at this stage.

        Pool One

        Well, Leinster have made a complete eejit of me as regards my predictions in Post 1. They are seven points ahead of where I thought they would be at this stage and look odds-on to win the Pool and get a home QF. If they win tomorrow and the Ospreys also win, Leinster could be as many as ten points ahead of Castres when they visit them in Round Five. Of course, Northampton overturned a hiding at home in last year's back-to-back games v Ulster, but I can't see that happening this time - but what do I know?
        Prediction: Two home wins tomorrow and the Bookies to stop taking bets on Leinster as Pool winners.

        Pool Two.
        Toulon's win in Exeter last time out is the only away win so far and gives them the advantage at this stage. They should win tomorrow and with Glasgow also winning, would be in the clear on 14/15 when they entertain Cardiff in Round Five. A win there would win the Pool unless Glasgow keep winning and pick up a bonus or two.

        Pool Three
        Connacht caught the feline and threw it right into the middle of the avian couriers last week. If normal service is resumed and I think it will be, Sarries and Toulouse will be level on 14 or possibly Toulouse will be ahead on 15. Whoever wins between these two in Round 5 will win the pool. The draw would suit Toulouse, having won in Hendon in Round Two.

        Pool Four.
        This is a peculiar pool. 'Quins have picked up a bonus in each game so far which is keeping them in touch. Clermont lost to Racing who folded at "home" (Nantes) to 'Quins who lost at home to Scarlets who drew at home to Racing. Clermont have two away matches next, Scarlets and 'Quins and could lose both of them, ending up needing favours elsewhere to have any chance of progressing. 'Quins, on the contrary have two home matches, Racing and Clermont and wins in both would put them on at least 15 points going to Llanelli in Round Six. If they reverse the head to head advantage that Clermont have (4 Match points to 1, 3 Tries to 1 and seven points) they would be in front no matter what the result in Llanelli tomorrow and a win in Llanelli in Round Six would probably be enough for a home QF.

        Pool Five

        At least Pool is going as I thought it would (apart from Montpellier winning in Treviso). Ulster should win in Treviso and if they do, another win at home to Montpellier in Round Five would put them on at least 21 points going to Welford Rd. in the last round. That would be enough to qualify no matter what happens there. Leicester go to Montpellier on Sunday and, while it would be nice to win, their three bonuses so far means that wins in Treviso in Round Five and at home to Ulster in Round Six would probably do to qualify.

        Pool Six.

        Munster's loss in Murrayfield coupled with Gloucester's win their last time out means that while, of course, a win tomorrow would be great, a win in Kingsholm is also needed if Munster are to avoid needing USAP to beat Gloucester in Round Six. A loss tomorrow as long as it's not 5-0, would still leave matters in Munster's own hands.