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Rupert Wyman 30th Apr 2010 - 18:20

Heineken Cup semi-finals preview

Injury-hit holders Leinster to bow out in Toulouse

A trip to the Heineken Cup favourites and three-time winners Toulouse would be hard enough for any side but holders Leinster have to travel without Jonathan Sexton.

Sexton has been unable to recover from his fractured jaw that he picked up in Leinster's quarter-final win over Clermont. The fly-half will be a huge miss and his place will be taken by the less talented Shaun Berne.

When you face a tough encounter one of the most important things is to keep the scoreboard ticking but without the prolific Sexton the holders could struggle to do this.

The good news for the Irish side though is that Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney look to have recovered from their various knocks as both have been named in the starting XV.

Leinster will do themselves no harm to remember their trip to Toulouse in 2006, in the quarter-finals, when they emerged with a fantastic 41-35 win.

However, this time around I think Guy Noves' star-studded side will have too much for the holders and the 1/3 about an 80-minute win for Toulouse should be snapped up but a better bet could well be the French side to cover the seven-point handicap (10/11).


Red Army to march in to the final

Much like their Irish rivals Munster have injury problems as their influential captain Paul O'Connell has been ruled out of this semi-final against Biarritz.

In his absence Ronan O'Gara leads the side and if Munster are to reach the Heineken Cup final for the fifth time then the fly-half will have to be at his best by giving the men outside him good quality ball.

Biarritz are there for the taking though as they are without a key man in Damien Traille plus they only narrowly defeated the Ospreys at home in the quarter-finals.

Key to the French side's chances of progressing will be Imanol Harinordoquy. If his presence at the back of the scrum and in the loose is nullified then I fully expect the Red Army to win rather easily.

It is 8/11 for Munster to win in 80 minutes, but I much prefer the look of 11/2 about them winning by 6-10 points.



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