Heineken Cup Round 6 Preview
LEICESTER v NEATH
Leicester Tigers: G Murphy; S Booth, L Lloyd, R Kafer, T Stimpson; S Vesty, H Ellis; D Jelley, D West, F Tournaire, M Johnson (capt), B Kay, M Corry, N Back, A Balding
Replacements: G Chuter, D Garforth, L Deacon, J Kronfeld, L Moody, J Hamilton, G Gelderbloom
Neath: A Durston; G Morris, A Bateman, D TRiueti, S Williams; L Jarvis, A Moore; P James, B Williams, A Jones, S Martin, G Llewellyn (capt), A Mocelutu, S Tandy, R Phillips
Replacements: S Jones, J Storey, S Connor, P Horgan, B Sinkinson, A Newman, D Jones
This was supposed to be the game where Neath stormed the home of the Heineken Cup holders to progress to the final eight of the competition, but a sloppy defeat to Amatori & Calvisano means Neath must not only win the game, but hope everyone else who can reach seven or eight points loses to give them any hope of reaching the last eight.
The prize for the Tigers is a home draw in the last eight and 16,845 people - a British record for a Heineken Cup pool match - are expecting to see them chase it. They may have started slowly with that 16-16 draw against Neath in Round 1, but since then the Tigers have shown the mark of champions - the ability to win games without always getting out of third gear.
BEZIERS v AMATORI & CALVISANO
Beziers: J Laharrague; P Escalle (capt), J-M Aue, J-P Grandeclaude, A Bousquet; G Quesada, N Durand; S Chobet, D Swarzexski, T Ratianidze, K Ghezal, V Nadiraze, F Martinez, F Mounier, F Gommard
Replacements: J Selva, J-F Pedesseau, S Bonorino, R Castel, M Koita, P Mignoni, T Dejardin
Amatori & Calvisano: M Ravazzolo; P Vaccari, G Raineri, C Zanoletti, A Vodo; G Fraser, P Griffen; G del Carli, A Moretti, S Perugini, L Mastrodomenico, J Purll, R Mandelli, C Mayerhofler, A de Rossi
Replacements: G Bocca, M Castrogiovanni, E Scotuzzi, F Letinic, J Dragotto, F Merli, E Mulieri
Amatori & Calvisano will look back at this year's campaign with pride, not only did they win their first ever Heineken Cup game with a 38-29 win over Neath, but they gave Leicester Tigers a run for their mooney last weekend.
Beziers, in their first year at Europe's top table, cannot qualify for the latter stages of the tournament with 4 points their five games, but will be expecting to complete the double over their Italian opposition - they won 32-16 in Round 1.
MUNSTER v GLOUCESTER
Munster: J Staunton; J Kelly, M Mullins, J Holland, M Lawlor; R O'Gara P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, M O'Driscoll, D O'Callaghan, J Williams (captain), A Quinlan, A Foley
Replacements J. Blaney M Cahill M Galwey E Halvey/D Leamy M Prendergast D Malone/ C Mcmahon K Keane
Gloucester: H Paul; J Simpson-Daniel / T Beim, T Fanolua, R Todd, T Delport; L Mercier, A Gomarsall; R Roncero, O Azam, P Vickery (capt), R Fidler, M Cornwell, P Buxton, J Boer / A Hazell, J Paramore
Replacements: C Stuart-Smith, S Amor, T Beim / D O'Leary, C Collins, A Deacon, A Hazell / J Forrester, A Eustace
The tie of the round sees Gloucester travel to Thomond Park to take on Munster in a do or die battle. Munster have it all to do if they are to reach the quarter-finals for a fifth successive season. They not only need to win, but must score at least seven tries to overtake Gloucester and possibly Perpignan. No team has ever won a Heineken Cup tie in Limerick and Gloucester will be hoping to succeed where London Wasps, NEC Harlequins twice, Bath and Saracens have all failed.
Gloucester's French outside half Ludovic Mercier will be looking for the five points he needs to become the first player to reach 100 points in the Heineken Cup this season, while home hero Ronan O'Gara will be another key figure with his reliable boot.
While Munster reached their Heineken Cup half-century last week, this game will see their Irish international No 8 Anthony Foley became the first player to reach that personal milestone with his 50th appearance in 51 games in the competition by the men in red.
VIADANA v PERPIGNAN
Viadana: M Rivaro; A Accorsi, S Ceppolini, H Crane, R Pedrazzi; C Steyn, P Roux; M Savi, V Jiminez, L Bocchini, C Bezzi, F Gumiero, M Phillips, A Persico, D Farani
Replacements: E de Bellis, A Buhrmann, M Avigni, G Vigna, S Aio, P Bettati, G Frasca/M Dolcetto
Perpignan: J-M Souverbie; P Bomati, P Giordani, C Manas, F Sid; M Edonds, J Basset; P Meya, M Konieckiewicz, S de Besombes, J Thion, J Daniell, G le Corvec, B Goutta (capt), P Murphy
Replacements: M Dal Maso, N Mas, C Porcu, S Derouex, L Loustau, B Bellot, F Cermeno
Perpignan will win the Pool, and reach the quarter-finals for the second time, if they beat Viadana and Munster beat Gloucester by fewer than six tries.
BOURGOIN v SALE
Sale Sharks: V Going; M Cueto, J Baxendell, M De3ane, S Hanley; C Hodgson, N Walshe; K Yates, A Titterrell, S Turner, I Fullarton, D Schofield, A perelini, A Sanderson, S Pinkerton
Replacements: J Roddam, B Stewart, C Jones, R Wilks, G Bond, D Harris, R Wigglesworth
Bourgoin: A Forest; E Tuni, G Davis, D Venditti, J Coux; A Peclier, M Forest; O Milloud, N Curnier, P Peyron, P Raschi, L Nallet (capt), J Bonnaire, S Chabal, P Caillet
Replacements: F Pucciariello, W Bonnet, D Djoudi, P Pape, S Bonnet, B Boyet, N Berryman, T Mazet
Bourgoin gave themselves a final chance of qualification with two late tries in last weeks defeat at Llanelli, but must beat Sale and hope the Scarlets fail to win in Glasgow in order to sneak in by the back door.
Sale will be glad to have got off the mark with last week's thumping 45-3 victory over Glasgow at Heywood Road and they will at least travel to France with their spirits high.
Llanelli v Glasgow
Llanelli: Barry Davies; Garan Evans, Matthew Watkins, Leigh Davies (captain), Mark Jones; Stephen Jones, Guy Easterby; Iestyn Thomas, Robin McBryde, Martyn Madden, Vernon Cooper, Chris Wyatt, Dave Hodges, Simon Easterby, Scott Quinnell.
Replacements: John Davies, Marcus Thomas, Luke Gross, Dafydd Jones, Dwayne Peel, Gareth Bowen, Matt Cardey.
Glasgow Rugby: S Moffatt; J Steel, A Bulloch, T Hayes, M Bartlett; C Howarth, G Beveridge; C Blades, G Bulloch (capt), D Hilton, N Ross, J White, A Wilson, D Macfadyen, G Simpson
Replacements: F Thomson, A Kelly, A Hall, J Petrie, A Nicol, R Kerr, R Reid
Llanelli must win in Glasgow to secure a home spot in the quarter-finals.
Wales scrum half Dwayne Peel scored two tries in the reverse fixture in Round 1, and is in a rich vein of form at the moment, but testament to the strength of the Llanelli squad is that Ireland international Guy Easterby will wear the nine shirt for this make-or-break battle.
Former Wales captain and man-of-the-match against Bourgoin Scott Quinnell has described this as 'the biggest week in the clubs history.' They have the hopes of the whole of Wales on their shoulders, and if they win they can expect more big weeks as they build up to the quarter-finals,
Glasgow, quarter-finalists in 1997/8 have failed to progress past the pool stags of the competition since then.
BRISTOL SHOGUNS v LEINSTER LIONS
Bristol Shoguns L. Best, D Rees, A Higgins, D Gibson, P Christophers; F Contepomi, Agustin Pichot; A Sheridan, P Johnstone, J White, G Archer (c), A Brown, M Salter, R Oakley, R Beattie
Leinster Lions: G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; C Warner, B O'Meara; R Corrigan (capt), S Byrne, E Byrne, L Cullen / A McCullen, M O'Kelly, E Miller, K Gleeson, V Costello
Replacements: P Coyle, G Hickie, A McCullen / A Kearney, D Dillon, B O'Riordan, N Spooner, D Quinlan
Leinster are already through to the final eight, and will not want to lose their 100 per cent record to Heineken Cup new boys Bristol.
The Shoguns surprised Montferrand in Round 5 and will be aiming claim with the scalp of one of the tournament favourites.
But with tournament top try scorer Gordon D'Acry back in the Leinster squad and on fire, the Bristol defence will have to be watertight.
Bristol Shoguns could finish on eight points by beating Leinster. That would put them in the race for one of the two best runners-up positions.
SWANSEA v MONTFERRAND
Swansea: K Morgan; S Payne, M Taylor, S Gibbs/S Winn, R Rees; G Henson, S Cordingley; D Morris (capt), C Balshen, B Evans, J Slade, J Thomas, D Thomas, C Charvis, J Bater.
Replacements (from): C Wells, D Dorsey, A Farley, R Francis, R Jenkins, R Jones, A Thomas, S Winn, G Swales.
Montferrand: S Viars; A Rougerie, J Ngauamo, R Chanal, J Marlu; G Merceron, G Sudre;S Bozzi, R Cockerill, L Tsabadze, E Lecomte, O Brouzet, A Audebert, J Fleurus, M aynaud.
Replacements: A Tolofua, J-J Taofifenua, L Vaitanaki, O Magne, J Moreau, X Sadourny, D Bory.
In what might be the last ever Heineken cup game Swansea in their current guise play at St. Helens, expect passionate support from the home fans as the All Whites play host to Montferrand.
Both sides may be unable to qualify, but neither will want to finish bottom of the Pool.
Montferrand have lost four straight Heineken Cup games, and will be looking to stop the rot against the team they beat in Round 1. Olivier Magne became the self-appointed scapegoat this week as he resigned his captaincy saying he hadn't been able to communicate the coach's wishes to the players.
NEWPORT v EDINBURGH
Newport: S Howarth;M Mostyn, H Luscombe, J Pritchard, L Nabaro; J Strange, O Tonu'u; R Snow, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, I Gough, J Forster, A Powell
Replacements: C Jones, P Young, A Garvey, M Veater, R Jones, S Williams, D Burn
Edinburgh Rugby: D Lee; C Sharman, C Joiner, T Philip, S Webster; C Paterson, G Burns; C Smith, D Hall, J Brannigan, A Kellock, S Murray, T Blackadder (capt), A Hogg, A Dall
Replacements: C di Ciacca, R Mathieson, G Perrett, S Cross, M Blair, B Laney, A Dickson
Neither side can qualify for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup but this will be a tight battle as both sides aim to avoid propping up the Pool.
Newport found themselves on the end of a heavy defeat last weekend against Toulouse, and will want to give their home fans something positive to remember this season's Heineken Cup.
Edinburgh, under the guidance of former All Black Todd Blackadder have won just twice in the cup this season, an opening day win over this weekend's opponents, and a thrilling comeback victory over London Irish last weekend. They will be expecting to come away from Rodney Parade with the points
London Irish v Toulouse
London Irish: M Mapletoft; P Sackey, N Burrows, B Venter, K Barrett; B Everitt, H Martens; M Worsley, N Drotske, R Hardwick, G Delaney, R Casey, P Gustard (capt), K Dawson, C Sheasby
Replacements: M Cannon, G Appleford, J Cockle, R Kirke, D Danaher, N Hatley, S Halford
Toulouse have won the Pool already, reaching the quarter-finals for the sixth time in eight years, and will guarantee themselves a home tie in the last eight with a win or a draw at London Irish.
ULSTER v NORTHAMPTON
Northampton: Nick Beal; James Brooks, Peter Jorgensen, John Leslie (Capt), Ben Cohen; Paul Grayson, Matt Dawson; Tom Smith, Steve Thompson, Matt Stewart, Steve Williams, Rob Hunter, Grant Seely, Mark Soden
Replacements: Dan Richmond, Chris Budgen, Robbie Morris, Jon Phillips, Ian Vass, Mark Tucker, Jon Sleightholme
Ulster: B Cunningham; J Topping, R Constable, S Stewart, S Coulter; D Humphreys, N Doak; R Kempson, M Sexton, S Best, G Longwell, J Davidson, A Ward (capt), N McMillan, T McWhirter
Replacements: J Fitzpatrick, P Shields, M Blair, R Nelson, K Campbell, J Cunningham, S Young
If Northampton Saints avoid defeat away to Ulster they will win the Pool. But Ravenhill is a tough place to play and Ulster, Heineken Cup champions of 1999, will be going all out to derail the campaign of the side that succeeded them at European champions.
With the likes of Ben Cohen and last week's winning try scorer Peter Jorgensen in good form, Northampton have enough fire power to hurt Ulster - but expect a very close match that could go either way.
BIARRITZ v CARDIFF
Biarritz Olympique: N Brusque; P Bernat-Salles, J-E Cassin, M Stcherbina, P Bidabe; J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili; D Minassian, J Campo, M Fitzgerald, D Couzinet, O Roumat, C Milheres, O Tonita, T Lievremont
Replacements: J-M Gonzalez, S Puleoto, J-P Versailles, S Betsen, L Mazas, G Bousses, M Etcheverria
Cardiff: D. Van Vuuren; N Walne, J Robinson, M Allen, C Morgan; N Robinson, R Powell; P Rogers, G Woods, T Payne, H Senekal, A Jones, D McShane, E Lewis (captain), D Baugh
Replacements: D Young, J Yapp, J Tait, R Sowden-Taylor, R Smith, I Harris, D Dewdney
Biarritz will be hoping for a big win against Pool basement boys Cardiff .
Biarritz, quarter-finalists two seasons ago, can only win the Pool if they beat Cardiff to reach eight points and Northampton Saints lose by 22 points without scoring a try and Ulster do not score more than three tries and 24 points.
Cardiff have had their worst ever Heineken Cup campaign, and will do well to get a positive result at the home of the French champions. Dai Young and his men will have a long summer asking what went wrong.