... and the other European Cup quarter-finals

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Leicester v Harlequins

As we know, Leicester are difficult enough to beat at home at any time and will be even tougher with so much at stake. But I believe that their backs are still finding their feet in trying to adapt to the changes that their coach, Bob Dwyer, is making to the traditional way that Leicester play. This will help Quins whose international flavour in the scrum - with the Frenchmen Laurent Benezech and Laurent Cabannes, the Llewellyn brothers from Wales, the Irish hooker Keith Wood and England's prop Jason Leonard - coupled with a back division strengthened by the talent of rugby league's Gary Connolly and Robbie Paul gives them the vital edge.

Brive v Llanelli

Brive were only just beaten by Toulouse for the French championship last season and are a very strong all-round team. Meeting them on their home patch on Sunday presents Llanelli with a huge task. But on their day the Scarlets can beat anyone. Frano Botica has brought a lot of stability and direction to their game and if they can frustrate the French enough, Frano will ensure they live off the penalties. Llanelli know that when in France you have to front up to them and be as aggressive as they are. The atmosphere will be intimidating but if they use it to inspire them rather than be subdued by it, they can produce a shock.

Dax v Toulouse

From what I've seen, Dax have very skilful backs and great power in the scrum. They also have home advantage, which is even more formidable in France than it is over here. But Toulouse, the European Cup holders and French champions for three years in a row, have greater experience. They have a massive and mobile pack, in which the prop Christian Califano is outstanding, and play an expansive game that Cardiff have been on the wrong end of twice this year. The playmaker Christophe Deylaud makes the most of match-winners like Thomas Castaignede, wingers Emile Ntamack and David Berty, and full-back Stephane Ougier. Toulouse are the team to beat.

Comments