Heineken Cup Semi-Final Preview 2013

Heineken Cup LogoThis weekend sees European rugby’s finest tournament has reach the business end, with four sides left fighting it out for a place in the final. Heavy favourites Clermont entertain Munster on Saturday, and on Sunday Saracens clash with Toulon in what is set to be a titanic battle in the forwards.

Clermont v Munster – 5.00pm (Saturday)

The first semi-final sees Paul O’Connell’s Munster side travel to the south of France to face a Clermont side who have been in sensational form throughout the tournament.  The Irish province have already shocked Europe when they eliminated Harlequins in the quarter-finals, and they enter this game as massive underdogs and are 7/1 (SportingBet) to overcome the French giants. As expected Clermont enter the game as heavy favourites and there price of 1/8 (Bet365) is fully justified given their performances so far.

French centre Wesley Fofana has already provided us with a couple of decent wins this season on the first try market, and at 11/1 (Coral) he is fantastic value to open the scoring once again. Another Clermont back who has been firing on all cylinders this year is Sitevini Sivivatu, the former All Black winger scores tries for fun also looks a good price at 8/1 (Coral) to score the first try.

Other markets that also catch my eye are Clermont to win by 11-15 points 11/2 (Paddy Power) and a Clermont penalty as the first scoring play 6/4 (BetVictor).

It is really hard to look past Clermont for this match, Munster have been here before but this isn’t the same team of yesteryear and there is almost no chance of them being able to hold the hosts for 80 minutes.

Saracens v Toulon – 3.00pm (Sunday)

Unlike the first semi-final this contest is set to be a lot closer and there really is nothing to choose between these two sides. Saracens are top of the Aviva Premiership, while Toulon are second in the Top 14 a point behind Clermont. The bookies really can’t split these two and the prices reflect that, Saracens are a best price of 11/10 (Stan James), while Toulon are slight favourites and generally 4/5 they can be backed at 1/1 (Bet365).

An interesting bet for the match could be No Try in the match which is 12/1 (Ladbrokes), this game is set to be a tight and tense affair and it would be no surprise to see the game come down to a duel between the kickers. For those looking to back tryscorers David Strettle is a decent price at 14/1 (Paddy Power) to score first. Toulon’s bulldozing centre Matthieu Bastareaud has been in great form and provides good value at 6/1 (Ladbrokes) to score at anytime.

On the points market Toulon by 1-5 is an attractive price at 5/1 (BetFred) and Toulon penalty as the first scoring play is also a good bet at 17/10 (Paddy Power). On the HT/FT market I like the look of Saracens/Toulon which is 7/1 (SkyBet).

Toulon were my ante-post selection and I can’t back against them now, they have all the talent in the world and may just prove too powerful for a very game Saracens side.

 

Weekend Best Bets

Toulon to win – evens (Bet365)

Toulon by 1-5 points – 5/1 (BetFred)

Wesley Fofana 1st try – 11/1 (Coral)

Clermont by 11-15 points – 11/2 (Paddy Power)