Heineken Cup Betting: Low-scoring encounter expected at the Aviva

Morgan Parra will be hoping Clermont do not implode again in Dublin against Leinster

It's the Heineken Cup this weekend and Geoffrey Riddle has sifted through his database to give you insight into two of the biggest games on Saturday...

"That is clearly impressive, and they deserved to win, but the lustre was taken off the performance by Leinster’s ability to turn over ball more frequently, which could be the visitor’s Achilles’ heel."


Last week I suggested that the total points in the Clermont v Leinster clash were too high, and it may prove profitable once again to consider the same approach in the return leg on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Many may underline the echoes in this clash of the 2010-11 season when Clermont registered a 20-13 success at the Stade Marcel Michelin at the same stage of the Heineken Cup before they were smashed 24-8 in front of 44,873 fans in Ireland.

The memories of that defeat for several of the Clermont squad are still painful, with France international Morgan Parra suggesting this week his team imploded.

Clermont will be buoyed by last week's 15-12 victory over Leinster, however, but what takes precedent is that downed the two-year unbeaten run in the tournament of their Pool 5 rivals.

Leinster may have scored 29 tries in the softer RaboDirectPro 12, but in the heightened environment of the the Heineken Cup against Clermont, Scarlets and Exeter they have managed only the solitary try.

It would be churlish to suggest that Leinster do not cut it this season, but without Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald the Irish side lacked the sort of invention that saw them prevail 19-15 in last season's epic semi-final victory over the Top 14 side.

Leinster got through that fixture due to sheer grit, and that Wesley Forfana's late try to seal the win was not awarded by the referee.

Last week's scoreline highlights how well matched these two teams are, but more importantly how hard it is to break down their defences.

Clermont employed a more high-risk strategy by utilising a more attacking approach. They covered more ground, beat more defenders, offloaded the ball more frequently and made over double the clean breaks of their visitors.

That is clearly impressive, and they deserved to win, but the lustre was taken off the performance by Leinster's ability to turn over ball more frequently, which could be the visitor's Achilles' heel.

The handicap line has been set at 6.5 points in favour of Clermont, but I'd far rather go low in the total points market at anything down to 35.

It could be a totally different story in the Liberty Stadium where the Ospreys host Toulouse in the early match on Saturday.

Toulouse have scored 37 tries in the Top 14 this season, 31 of which have been converted. In defence, however, they are far less impressive conceding 18 tries from 12 matches, meaning there will be opportunities for Steve Tandy's side.

Toulouse were just 12-7 up at the break at the Stade Ernest Wallon last week and in general they take time to get going. This season in the Top 14 they have scored a fifth of all their points in the final ten minutes of their matches, and over a third in the final 20 minutes.

Toulouse have also been a dodgy proposition on the road in France, beating only lowly Bayonne and Bordeaux away from the Pink City.

They have lost at mid-table Biarritz, Perpignan and Stade Francais, and while it is harder to win on the road in the Top 14 it is fair to say their lofty position in the table in second is on the basis of their strong home form.

This is classic match to trade In-Play, therefore, and it makes sense to lay the European Cup kings in the match betting market at the outset at around 1.331/3 with a view to making a call just after half-time.

With Toulouse likely to score an avalanche of points in the final quarter, make sure you are in the right position by the 60th minute.


Recommended Bets

Back 'Under' in Total Points market in Leinster v Clermont*
Back 'Over' in Total Points market in Ospreys v Toulouse*
Lay Toulouse at 1.331/3 with a view to backing them In-Play at odds-against


*At the time of publishing these markets haven't materialised but will be available closer to kick-off


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