The Heineken Cup kicks off this weekend and there are some brilliant games to get us underway – but none quite match the clash between Northampton and Munster that takes place this Saturday evening.
Northampton head into the game in Ireland as 7/4 outsiders but, after losing last year’s final in dramatic fashion against Munster, they are out to show they have learnt their lessons from that defeat.
Northampton were leading Leinster 22-6 at half-time in the 2011 final at the Millennium Stadium, before Jonathan Sexton inspired his side to a brilliant second half comeback that saw them win 33-22.
Despite the disappointment, Saints skipper Dylan Hartley remains convinced his side have learnt their lessons and that they’re better than ever.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “We will learn from it As a squad we are still quite young with our best years ahead of us. We have not lost anyone, and we have added to the squad.
“That gives us more depth, which we needed, as we were playing pretty much the same team every week.”
Munster – who have won the Heineken Cup on two previous occasions – will provide a stiff test for the English side though and are big 4/9 favourites.
Munster have enjoyed a decent start to their Pro 12 campaign but have stumbled in recent weeks, losing against Leinster in their last game, and at home to the Ospreys a fortnight ago.
However, now they have their World Cup stars back and firing – including the influential veteran Ronan O’Gara – they should have enough to triumph.
Northampton – who have England duo Chris Ashton and Ben Foden to all upon – are certainly in better shape than last year and head into the game on the back of three consecutive wins, so it promises to be a tight game.
Backing Munster to Triumph with a -5pt handicap looks like the most tempting bet at 10/11.