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Nic Ladds 8th Oct 2009 - 17:18

Leinster and Gloucester will both enjoy home comforts

A Heineken Cup double header awaits us and it looks an absolutely belting line up to get rugby union's premier tournament going with two of the strongest teams Leinster and London Irish colliding as well as Gloucester who take on Newport Gwent Dragons.

Leinster v London Irish - 20:00 live on Sky Sports 2

Holders  and 4/11 shots Leinster are thrown straight back in to the Heineken Cup fire with a clash against high-flying London Irish who are priced at 2/1, in what could well be clash between two of the more likely winners of the whole thing.

The home side have won their previous 11 Heineken Cup matches at the RDS Arena and with the handicap having London Irish receiving seven at 10/11 while Leinster are also 10/11 giving up seven points, shows what a tough task the visitors face.

Heineken Cup favourites Munster suffered a brutal 30-0 defeat in Dublin but Irish are a different proposition and will not be here for damage limitation - coach Tony Booth has come out and said that they could not have wished for a better place to start their campaign - away to the reigning champions.

In industrious fly-half Ryan Lamb (20/1 for first try) and Salsoi Tagicakibauy (11/1), they have the necessary tools to cause the Leinster defence some serious problems, while with Nick Kennedy in the line outs and Steffon Armitage mopping up the loose ball they should give this a good go.

For Leinster, Brian O'Driscoll has shown no signs of slowing down and continues to mastermind the Irish side's attacks and is unsurprisingly 12/1 to go over first, with fellow internationals Shane Horgan and Luke Fitzgerald both 10/1 while at a bigger price, Jamie Heaslip is always dangerous and is 25/1 to score first or 3/1 to go over anytime.

Any team that has a Lions player, in this case Rob Kearney on the bench who can't get in ahead of Isa Nacewa are to be feared and Irish will not be brushed aside like Munster were and they are in flying form themselves.

Home advantage should ensure Leinster get their year as defending champions off to a winning start and they are taken to cover the seven point handicap at odds of 10/11 with a wager on Heaslip to score first try at 25/1 also worth an investment.

Gloucester v Newport Dragons - 20:00 live on Sky Sports Red Button

The other game that kicks off at the same time is not quite so glamorous but nevertheless both sides will be desperate for a win with Biarritz and Glasgow both looking tough opponents.

Last year you would really have fancied Gloucester to walk this at 1/6 with Newport at 7/2 but they are not the same team as last year and have struggle so far and the Dragons receiving 12 points on the handicap at 10/11 looks a good bet.

Ashley Smith and Jason Tovey look dangerous for the visitors, both 16/1 to go over first, while for Gloucester, James Simpson - Daniel at 12/1 has already notched three and is the selection to get things rolling for the favourites.

The Dragons should makes things tough for the home side but they have come unstuck against quality opposition in the Magners League and while Gloucester are no Leinster or Munster, they should be able to make a winning start, albeit a narrow one.


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