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Nic Ladds 14th May 2009 - 14:24

Tigers should win it, but will be close

Leicester Tigers start as 4/9 betting favourites with bookmaker William Hill to get the better of 15/8 London Irish in Saturday's Guinness Premiership final at RFU headquarters.

Richard Cockerill´s in-form Tigers were highly impressive in beating Bath 24-10 in the semis to set up the Twickenham date and a repeat of that performance will probably have those odds-on backers smiling by Saturday evening.

The Welford Road outfit have won their last six matches (if you include the thrilling Heineken Cup penalty shoot-out win over Cardiff) and are rightly odds-on faves. But at 4/9, I'm not so sure because on Hill's massive array of markets for this game there is more value to be unearthed.

Yes, the Tigers have experienced a superb league season romping home with the Guinness Premiership title five points clear of Harlequins and Irish.

But hang on a minute. An Irish-named team, playing in the Guinness Cup final. Could that be an omen? Hmmm. And look, their two games against the Tigers this season have been far from one-way affairs.

In the first duke-out in September the Midlanders came home at Welford Road by a narrow 24-22 margin, it was 10-10 at half time.

In their March return the Tigers won 31-28, although it should be noted that the Exiles staged a solid second-half comeback from 8-21 down at the interval.

As the two highest "points for" scorers in the league suggests, this could be an open affair.

With past results in mind William Hill's Home Team Winning Margin market that quotes the Tigers to win by between (1-5) points at 5/1 and 9/2 for it to be a (6-10) margin will surely tempt the punters.

I personally favour the latter of those two punts.

Cockerill's side are preparing for two finals in seven days, this one at Twickenham on Saturday, before heading north to Edinburgh where they take on Leinster in the Heineken the following weekend.

"Cockers" as he is affectionately know has done a superb job at the helm since South African coach Heyneke Meyer left Welford Road in January but I suspect that his side will slip up in one of those two massive games, most probably the second one.

London Irish have lost strongman prop Faan Rautenbach and towering lock Nick Kennedy which tips things more in favour of Leicester but I believe the Exiles can still make a game of this.

Their surprise 17-0 victory over Harlequins marked them out as dangerous opponents and although the likelihood is that the trophy will be heading back up the M1 I fancy Irish to run them very close.

That (1-5) points margin at 5/1 looks the value punt.

As far as the first try-scorer market is concerned I like the credentials of Sam Vesty.

He's been a key man for the Tigers and his performances this season at fly-half or inside centre has underpinned Leicester's drive to the Premiership and Heineken Cup finals.

William Hill will be betting Saturday's Guinness Premiership final at RFU headquarters in-play, so as the match starts, join us for the latest prices which our in-play betting service.

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