If Leinster are to make the Champions Cup final they will need to avoid the same mistakes they committed in last years match against Toulon that they ended up losing 29-14. Matt O’Connor, their trainer will have analysed that match for many hours: “Looking back at the footage of that game we were pretty disappointed. There were a lot of opportunities we left out there. We didn’t play well and yet 60-odd minutes in we were still in touch with them. So we’re going to take a lot of lessons out of that game and a lot of positives but we’re going down to their patch and they are probably the best team in the world at the moment, with all the superstars. It’s going to be a hell of a task but we will give it every shot.You’ve got to make your first-up shots, first up tackles, because they’re big men. They’re going to run at you and if you don’t make your first-up shots they are going to get in behind you and get momentum. Then the likes of Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Mathieu Bastareaud will just keep coming at you.So, defence is going to be a massive key for us. When we’ve got the ball we’ve got to respect it and look after it, try to move them around the pitch because they’re a big unit. If we do those two things well then we are going to give ourselves an opportunity.” A top rugby tipster knows that against a team with such powerful poachers as Bastareaud, SteffonArmitage and Chris Masoe the bit about hanging on to the ball will be tricky and when Leinster have been slowed down this season it has killed their try count.
In the other semi-final Jonathan Davies, Clermont Auvergne’s Wales centre, has warned that their European Champions Cup demolition of Northampton was not a one-off and insists Saracens can expect similar treatment in their semi-final.The two sides meet for the fourth time in less than 12 months this weekend after Saracens knocked out Clermont at the same stage last year before the teams shared a win apiece in this season’s pool stages.Clermont dismantled Northampton, who are currently six points clear at the top of the Premiership, with a resounding 37-5 victory in the quarter-finals and could end English clubs’ involvement in the competition this weekend: “The plan is to replicate that performance against Northampton.” Said Davies. “People have been talking about it as the complete performance, especially in the first half. But I noticed during the game that as a squad we have so much quality we should expect to deliver that sort of intensity, accuracy and execution on the ball.It was no surprise to me that we delivered a performance like that. It’s about making sure we replicate it in the week in training, we deliver the intensity
The best rugby pick knows that in 2012, Clermont outclassed Saracens in a 22-3 quarter-final triumph at Vicarage Road but Mark McCall’s men exacted revenge last year with a shock 46-6 win in the last four so it won’t be easy to call this one either way but it should be worthwhile.