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Nic Ladds 1st May 2009 - 19:09

Howlett can start Munster demolition job

An all-Irish clash in the first Heineken Cup semi-final which promises to be entertaining Munster firm favourites at odds of 3/10.

This clash which will take place at Croke Park will feature no less than 10 players who have been picked for the Lions tour which should provide the crowd with plenty to cheer about.

Leinster possess three of those players compared to Munster's seven which will help explain why they are 11/4 underdogs to progress to the Heineken Cup final.

Munster come here on a real high having been crowned Magners League Champions on Thursday night and are looking for their third European title in four season.

Leinster meanwhile have never made it to the final and many will feel Munster can easily cover the handicap which sees them giving up 7 points at odds of 10/11 with Leinster also 10/11 in receipt of 7 points.

For those who think it will be even more of a walk over than this, Munster -12 points can be backed at odds of 6/4 with Leinster at 1/2 in the betting receiving 12 points.

Brain O'Driscoll is the key man for the underdogs and if he can get the team firing they have a chance of edging a victory, and the great man himself is 14/1 to score the first try or 3/1 to score anytime, with his Ireland team mate Luke Fitzgerald also 3/1 to score a try.

It is worth nothing however that Leinster have managed just one try against Munster in all their encounters this season.

Leinster were taken apart 18-0 on home turf by Munster and then lost again 22-5 at Thomond Park and it is hard to see them turning things around.

These two did meet at this stage of the Heineken Cup in 2006 and the two teams retain a fair few of the players from that game, a game in which Munster ran out 30-6 winners.

These score lines suggest a winning margin of something like 11-15 at odds of 5/1 or 16-20 at 15/2 look real possibilities.

If Leinster are to scrape a victory then you may fancy a 1-5 point win in their favour at 6/1 in the betting.

If they are to have a chance they will have to shackle the devastating New Zealander Doug Howlett who is still one of the greatest wingers in the world and can be backed at 11/1 to score the first try.

The 5/2 on offer about Howlett scoring at anytime during the match looks an absolute gift.

If that's not enough the Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer and Shane Horgan to name just three will keep the Leinster defence busy all day.

Horgan at 11/4 to score a try could be a cracking bet as he plays on the wing with Isa Nacewa moving to fullback.

Let us not forget the dominating figure of Lions captain Paul O'Connell leading the Munster pack in a forward line that may simply have too much for Leinster.

It is hard to see anything but a dominant Munster win which makes the 'Yes' option about either team to win both halves appealing at even money, as well as Munster winning the race to 10 points at 4/7.

This will be bruising and bloody with no love lost between the two but it will be Munster who are leading the charge to yet another shot at Heineken Cup glory.

Recommendation:
Doug Howlett to score a try - 5/2
Munster -12 points - 6/4

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