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Nic Ladds 16th Jan 2010 - 10:33

Leinster and Munster won't need Irish luck in the Heineken Cup

The Heineken Cup is nearing the crucial final stages of the groups and while some teams have little to play for, others have everything to play for so expect some titanic battles over the weekend and here we preview the three televised games.

Treviso v Munster - 13:35 live on Sky Sports 3

Treviso have not hope of qualifying for the next stage of the Heineken Cup but they have played admirably at home and although they are unlikely to belie odds of 8/1 about a win against 1/20 Munster, they may put up more of a fight than the odds suggest.

The Italian side beat Perpignan and lost to Northampton by three points at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo and they are receiving a 17 point head start against Munster at odds of 10/11 which should be achievable if they play with the same guild and heart that they did in their previous home games.

Munster were mightily impressive in seeing off Perpignan away but this is not as crucial a game and a bonus point win will suffice regardless of the margin so they may not be quite as ruthless, especially as they've had poor preparation due to the weather and therefore haven't played competitively in a while.

Nevertheless, Munster's strong side containing the likes of Doug Howlett (8/1 for first try), Keith Earls (12/1) and Ronan O'Gara (20/1) will certainly test the Teviso defence all afternoon and the home side will need Andy Vilk (16/1), Tobie Botes (22/1) and Luke Mclean (25/1) to be at their best.

This will be a comfortable win for Munster but there could be some mileage in the winning margins market in backing 16-20 at 6/1 or 11-15 at 8/1 rather than the favourite in the market 26-30 at 5/1 as Treviso have proved time and again that they are improving and can keep a rusty Munster side at least to a respectable score.

Treviso v Munster betting

Cardiff v Sale - 15:45 live on Sky Sports 3

There is no two ways about it, 1/3 shots Cardiff must win this game in order to have any hope of qualifying from the group stages but they have a tough game against 9/4 Sale to negotiate.

This looks a tricky match to call at Cardiff have the players to trouble any team but have failed to fire this season and suffered a lacklustre loss to Edinburgh last time out in the Magners League although they have won both their home Heineken Cup games.

Sale's bonus point win at Harlequins shows they have the pedigree to post anyone a challenge home or away and giving the Sharks a start of seven points at 10/11 could be generous.

Mark Cueto  (12/1 for first try), Matthew Tait (16/1) and Dwayne Peel (20/1) can all create exciting attacking insight for Sale while Sisa Koyamaibole (25/1) from number 8 has got over a couple of times recently and could be a good bet at 9/2 to score anytime.

When you look at the Blues' side it is hard to believe they are struggling with Leigh Halfpenny (9/1), Tom James (9/1), Tom Shanklin (14/1), Jamie Roberts (16/1) and Xavier Rush (20/1) leading the pack but struggling they are and it is impossible to back them at the match odds although home advantage should, in theory, see them win.

Sale aren't the worst 9/4 shots in the world and if they are to win then it could be by a margin of around 1-5 points at 13/2 while a home victory of 1-5 points is 11/2 with 6-10 and 11-15 9/2 but for punters wanting a safer bet, Sale are more than capable of staying within the seven point handicap.

Cardiff v Sale betting

Leinster v Brive - 17:45 live on Sky Sports 1

Things are not boding well for Brive with a hungry Leinster side seeking a bonus point victory and as Brive are yet to pick up a point, there is no reason why they will get anything today at odds of 12/1 while the home side are as short as 1/66 for victory.

Leinster have been ruthless in their destruction of Scarlets in the last two rounds and they will want a big win to set up a titanic finale with London Irish so punters may want to beware of them taking their foot off the gas once the job is done.

It is easy to see the home side covering the 28 point handicap at 10/11 if they are in the right frame of mind but Brive have named quite a strong side despite being out of it and the likes of Jamie Noon (25/1 for first try), Nicolas Jeanjean (20/1) and Horacio Agulla (20/1) will hope to at least make some impact.

They will need to be at their best though as they as with no fewer than six Ireland internationals including Rob Kearney (10/1), Shane Horgan (7/1), Brian O'Driscoll (10/1) and Jamie Heaslip (16/1), they are more than a match for anyone.

The compilers are expecting a cricket score here with winning margin's in favour of the home side of 26-30 and 31-35 at odds of 5/1 while 36-40 is 6/1.

Leinster are capable of destroying Brive and the handicap of 28 looks about right and punters could make a few quid by backing a host of the backline to score a try anytime as you can be sure there will be a good few causes to celebrate this afternoon to set up one of the games of the season with London Irish.

Leinster v Brive betting


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