Take place this weekend
Saturday 21st April (Dublin)
Leinster v Scarlets (3pm BST)
In Dublin we have strong favourites in Leinster, the European team of the season to date.. The Scarlets have rebounded from their poor pool stage performance at home to Bath at which point they were 80-1 to win the competition and are now at the same stage as they were in last season’s PRO12 campaign. Playing Leinster, the favourites, away
They were 5-1 to beat Leinster last season and the same price this. Last season that proved to be a very generous price playing the most complete rugby in the league. Leinster were not convincing. It was only in the European quarters and semis we saw a semblance of what this team could become. Scarlets won 27-15.
This season the Scarlets backs aren’t as prolific but there is a much-improved set-piece. Defensively they are harder and faster than they were last season.
Leinster have beaten league leaders from all over Europe at pool stage and comfortably handled Saracens, still a powerful force, in the quarter-finals and are 2/9 to win this game.
Garry Ringrose is coming back from injury while the pack is much better a year on and Sexton is in top form at fly half.
With the game being played in Dublin (ostensibly a neutral venue, and the only Irish venue with the capacity to hold the tie) we have to expect Leinster to win and the 7/4 Sky Bet offer about the winning margin being 1-12 points looks attractive.
Sunday 22nd April
Racing 92 v Munster (Bordeaux 4.15pm BST)
In the other semi-final Munster travel to Bordeaux the French neutral venue
Racing were impressive in the Auvergne in their quarter final and at full strength have been flying up the French Top 14 table. Clermont though have been struggling and perhaps this was the right time to play a fading force
Munster were fortuitous in their quarter final against Toulon with the rub of the green on a few close decisions and indebted to a last minute try out of nowhere to win but Toulon I suspect are developing into a superior side to the one most of us think them. Looking back, Munster’s was a great win.
The two teams met twice in the pool stages this season. Munster win 14-7 at home. Racing won 34-30 in Paris in a game with six tries. I expect it to be very close again with Munster’s defence being tested by Racing
Munster have big game players ready to go, their system allows their players plenty of rest in between big games in a way the English and French systems do not.
Prices here are Racing 4/6 Munster 17/10 with William Hill. For value at the prices I will be backing Munster.