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This week Frank Quinn gives us his ‘View from within the Pale’

By Frank Quinn
WE are at the final round, Number 21, of the Guinness Pro14 Championship with play-offs, semi finals and final to come, in addition to the finals of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup scheduled for Bilbao on the 11th/12th of May. Leinster play Racing 92 and Gloucester play Cardiff respectively.
Round 21 of the PRO14 is for local derbies on the week end of 27-29 April:
Munster play Ulster, Connacht play Leinster, Edinburgh V. Glasgow, Kings V Cheetahs, none of this is expected to influence the playoffs on 4th May from the two Conferences:
In the quarter finals Munster will most likely play Edinburgh with the winner taking on Leinster in the semi finals and Scarlets play Cheetahs for the right to take on Glasgow.
The two conference winners, Leinster and Glasgow, will have the home semi finals and also will benefit from a break to the semis to the 18th May, Final 26th May. There is the possibility of two heavyweight semis of Leinster meeting Munster and Glasgow could be playing Scarlets.
Leinster’s schedule is tighter as they have the final of the Champions Cup on the 12th May and the semi of the PRO14 a week later on the 18th May
The pressure will on all the teams to salvage their season.
Munster will want to bounce back from the defeat by Racing Metro and Scarlets are in a similar position having gone down to Leinster, both in the Champions Cup semi finals. However Edinburgh and Cheetahs have as much to gain as anyone and they are under the radar now with Glasgow. It is unlikely that all the games will go to plan so expect a surprise along the way.
Glasgow has won 15 from 20 in the Pro14 and top their conference – so in looking for an outsider at this stage – they appear to fit the requirement, they will be well rested for the semi final stage although recent form is not good.
Betting: Leinster is fav. At 1/2 Glasgow 4/1, Munster 6/1, Scarlets 9/1
Champions Cup:
May 12th is D Day for Leinster in the 23rd Champions Cup final in Bilbao and they look forward to adding a fourth win in the champions Cup to their tally to equal Toulouse.
They won in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and another win in 2018 will keep their momentum going in Europe.
From the 2009 team – they have a few survivors – Isa Nacewa, Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney came on as a replacement. Their coach Leo Cullen was captain of this team and assistant coach John Fogarty came on as a replacement. In the final they beat Leicester Tigers 19-16 in Cardiff, the attendance was 66, 523.
Their opponents are Racing Metro 92, who rolled over Munster with a three try blitz in 21 minutes in the first half thanks to 24 year old Teddy “Flair” Thomas, including the one he gifted to Maxine Machenaud. Munster was flattered by the final score which was bolstered by a late rally scoring fourteen points in the last five minutes.
Racing Metro made it to the quarter finals in 2015 and that was their best run to date and they currently lie second in the Top14. Donnacha Ryan (ex Munster) started and finished in the second row in the racing colours. They are now in the final of the premier competition in Europe and deservedly. You don’t get to a final unless you have top quality.
The Betting: Leinster are 3/10 for the Champions Cup and 1/2 for the PRO14, Racing Metro are 11/4 for the Euro and 7/2 to win the Top 14
For the record Irish clubs have won six of the twenty two Euro Cup competitions, Leinster three, Munster two and Ulster one from 1996 – 2017.

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