Leinster head into this Saturday’s Heineken Cup final against Ulster as the big 2/7 favourites – but it promises to be a lot closer than the odds suggest.
Leinster coach, Joe Schmidt, admitted they were far from their best in their semi-final victory against Clermont Auvergne and memories of how they trailed Northampton 22-6 in the final last year – before coming back with 27 unanswered points in the second half – are still fresh in the memory.
The Dublin side will not be able to give their opponents such a big lead this time out and, with the Ulster being extremely strong up front, both sides may look to keep things tight in the opening exchanges.
And it’s the boot of Ulster scrum-half and Magners League Player of the Year Ruan Pienaar that will be crucial if Ulster are to upset the odds and claim the title at 10/3.
Pienaar has been brilliant for the Ulstermen and has kicked his side out of many tight corners throughout the season.
He kicked all five of his penalties and a conversion in Ulster’s narrow 22-19 Heineken Cup victory over Edinburgh last month and they will look to him to kick the points again if the forwards are able to put enough pressure on the Leinster pack.
However, while it promises to be a tight game, a victory still looks a little beyond the outsiders.
A better way of making some decent cash may be to look in the handicap markets and back Ulster with a +8 handicap at a very decent 1/1.