AS another weekend of European competition arrives, England rugby great Lawrence Dallaglio casts his eye over the fixtures involving London clubs and offers City A.M. his expert view on how results are likely to go.
SARACENS V RACING METRO 92
HEINEKEN CUP, SATURDAY
There are changes aplenty at Vicarage Road following the news that director of rugby Brendan Venter is moving back to South Africa. Given their two losses so far it’s virtually impossible for them to qualify so it will be fascinating to see what kind of team Saracens put out. They have been relying on some youngsters lately, with fly-half Owen Farrell outstanding, and won’t want to lose the momentum they’ve built up in the Premiership. Racing Metro, meanwhile, have everything still to play for, and are also in decent form.
VERDICT: Saracens to have too much, provided they select a strong side
LONDON IRISH V TOULON
HEINEKEN CUP, SUNDAY
Irish have come off the rails a bit lately, after defeats to Wasps, Northampton and Leicester, so Toby Booth will be looking to get them back on track. They haven’t been playing badly, they just need to cut out some of the errors they’ve been making. This is the key game for both teams if either of them are going to qualify from this pool. Neither can afford to lose again.
VERDICT: Irish eyes to be smiling
NEWPORT-GWENT DRAGONS V WASPS
HEINEKEN CUP, SUNDAY
After a bit of soul-searching Wasps have turned their season around and are now back on form. They have won four matches in a row, are up to fifth in the Premiership, and now face a crunch game. In order to give themselves a chance of progressing, though, they need to triumph in the first match of this double-header. Toulouse are their main rivals in this pool and Wasps will want to do at least as well as the French outift did in Wales. It won’t be easy, but if they can they could really use a bonus point. If they manage that, they will be in a strong position.
VERDICT: It’ll be tough, but Wasps to continue their fine league form
HARLEQUINS V CONNACHT
AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP, SUNDAY
Quins have go t a strong record in this competition, are previous winners and will want to maintain that tradition. They are formidable, especially at home, and are set to be bolstered by a list of players back from international duty. With their Premiership campaign not going as well as they’d like, this takes on even greater importance as it’s probably their best chance of silverware.
VERDICT: Quins to keep up their tradition in this competition
Lawrence Dallaglio, is an ambassador for Amlin, premium partner of the Heineken Cup and title partner of the Amlin Challenge Cup