Leinster will meet Racing 92 in the final of the Champions Cup in Bilbao after the French side ended hopes of an all-Irish decider.
Leo Cullen’s men decimated Scarlets at the Aviva stadium but it was Racing who got off to a flier in Bordeaux, with three tries in the opening 21 minutes and held on to make the final beating Munster 27-22
Racing were runners up in the competition in 2016, rebuilt last year and only qualified for the knockout stages as one of the three best runners up but have hit form in 2018 and are second in the French top 14.
They are expensively assembled with a host of ball playing foreign imports, international quality French finishers on the wingers and marshalled by scrumhalf Maxim Machenaud at scrum half. Their style is a “boom bust” type approach, rather than playing the percentages but that could well suit conditions in a Bilbao early summer with the sun on their backs. A dangerous opponent
Leinster have been the quality side in this competition all season. Unbeaten in the pool stages, number one seed for the knock out stages they have brushed aside defending double champions Saracens and Scarlets on their way to the final
With the side comprising the core of the Ireland Grand Slam team they have to be favourites to win here. Over and above their ability they are hugely assisted by the policy adopted with the IRFU to limit the amount of times international players are allowed to play for their provinces during the season (unlike the English and French models). This means players like Sexton reach this stage of the season relatively fresh
Leinster are best priced 2/9 with William Hill, Racing 9/2. I do expect Leinster to win. Searching for value as an alternative to the outright market. Racing have scoring firepower and I would be surprised if it was a one sided final, normally close affairs
In the winning margin market Leinster are 17/10 with Betfair (8/5 Paddy Power, 13/8 Skybet) to win by 1-12 points which is my idea of the way to go here.