Heineken Cup reaches fever pitch
A double dose of Heineken Cup action awaits you on Saturday as the quarter finals take place with the biggest teams in Europe vying for a shot at the most coveted prize in domestic rugby union.
Ospreys are bidding to make the Heineken Cup final four for the first time in their history and they are 15/8 to reach this mile stone but they have the imposing Biarritz stood in their way.
At odds of 4/9 the French side will be bullish of seeing off the Welsh challengers as they so rarely slip at home and they walked through the pool stages while Ospreys came through a very tough group but were wildly inconsistent and knowing how they will fair in this game largely depends on what mood they are in on the day - brilliant one minute, atrocious the next, an attribute so usually associated with French sides.
Biarritz are going to do their best to quell the flair threat of the Ospreys backline which means the likes of Tommy Bowe (11/1 for first try), Shane Williams (11/1) and Lee Byrne (18/1) may have to work hard to get any quick ball, while Ryan Jones and Alun Wyn - Jones will be looked at to lead the pack in to battle against the ferocious French forwards.
The imposing Immanol Harinordiquy (18/1) leads a tough Biarritz pack while Damien Traille (16/1), Takudzwa Ngwenya (10/1) and Iain Balshaw (16/1) all pack an explosive punch and will match the Ospreys backs for pace and flair all over the pitch.
So, where does our money go? Finding it hard to see past a Biarritz victory and they should be capable of giving up five points on the handicap at 10/11 while a convincing win would not shock so backing margins of 11-15 at 6/1 and even 16-20 at 9/1 could be the call as Ospreys look set to struggle with this step up to the top level.
Expect big points in the game also with two attacking teams and the stats showing us that Biarritz scored an average of 44 points in their home Heineken Cup games so far and Biarritz look a great bet at 4/6 to win the race to 10 points and indeed the game.
Biarritz -5 - 10/11
Biarritz to win race to 10 points - 4/6
If there is to be an upset in the quarter finals then it could be at Thomond Park by Northampton who are at odds of 5/2 to upset 1/3 shots Munster.
Munster will be smarting from their home defeat to Leinster and will want to bounce right back with a win in front of their passionate crowd but Northampton are going to know what to expect.
This is the third time these to have met this season with a win apiece but Northampton could have and perhaps should have inflicted defeat on Munster last time going down 12-9 and since that game the Saints have gone from strength to strength.
Chris Ashton (11/1 for first try), Ben Foden (16/1), Shane Geraghty (16/1) and Courtney Lawes (15/2 to score anytime) are all bright young talent who have propelled Northampton to challenge in all competitions and they can give Munster a real run for their money.
Apart from the obvious threats of Doug Howlett (11/1) and Keith Earls (14/1), Ronan O'Gara has been on fire with the boot for the home side and he will no doubt keep the scoreboard ticking over at every opportunity and the Saints will need to match them kick for kick if they are to emerge victorious.
Northampton receive a six point head start on the handicap at 10/11 and that looks a good bet as the margins between the two sides have been three and four points on the two occasions they've met this season.
Other bets to look at could be the second half being the highest scoring at 4/5 as a cagey start between these two evenly matched sides could lead to a tight first half followed by a more open second as both teams attempt to cement their advantage.
This should be a real bruising encounter and the young Northampton side could shock the old guard of Munster and progress to the semi finals and continue the Saints' fantastic season.
Northampton +6 - 10/11
Second half being the highest scoring - 4/5