Leinster and Ulster head for Twickenham on Saturday 19th May, looking to win the the most prestigious trophy in club rugby, the Heineken Cup. Leinster have been the dominant force in Europe for the last few years, but Ulster are looking to emulate their feat of 1999 when they won the trophy for the first time.
Leinster to win by 1-12 points 11/8 @ Paddy Power
Leinster v Ulster Form Guide
The two Irish clubs that have made it to the Twickenham final have got there on the back of some immense defensive efforts. Leinster have only conceded 20 points or more once in 2012 (versus Ospreys) and despite the attacking options at their disposal, they have built their dominance of European rugby on the foundation of rock solid defence, coupled with exemplary discipline. In the semi-final, the normally rampant Clermont Auvergne were restricted to just 15 points in their own back yard.
Ulster have taken a similar route to success, particularly in Europe. Only Leicester have managed to put 20 points (or more) on the board against them in this years competition, and the Ravenhill side have become very adept at winning tight games, coming through a close Quarter-final against Munster by 5 points, before squeezing past Edinburgh by 3. That ability to stay in touch, and edge these tense, high pressure games will be severely tested by the reigning Heineken Cup Champions.
With a close encounter more likely than not, the odds on a marginal Leinster victory look appealing. 9/2 is available on a Leinster winning margin of 6 to 10 points, but preference is given to the wider margin of 1 to 12 points, with 11/8 available. Ulster have been beaten twice during this Heineken Cup campaign, once at Welford Road, Leicester, where the losing margin was 11 points, and again at Clermont, where they were edged out by just 4. At a neutral venue, it does not seem likely that Leinster will rattle up a high score as they did in the RaboDirect PRO12 League meeting between the sides back in December – that game finished 42-13 in favour of the hosts. The return League fixture at Ravenhill in late April gives a better indication of how this one might go – it finished 8-16 to Leinster.
Preparations for the two finalists have been very different. Ulster have jetted off for a training camp in the sun, while Leinster slugged it out with Glasgow in the PRO12 play-off, winning 19-15 despite a late Glasgow fightback. Which approach works best will not be known until Saturday evening.
Leinster have been favourites for the competition from the start, and head into the final as 3/10 jollies. Ulster though, have ensured they are a tough nut to crack, and while Leinster are likely to edge it, a small winning margin seems likely, so the 11/8 on Leinster to win with a 1 to 12 point margin of victory offers a decent bit of value.