Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

As one rugby season reaches its climax the other steps up a gear – the Grand Final at Old Trafford tonight brings the curtain down on the Super League season, while rugby union's best clubs in Europe embark on the Heineken Cup over the weekend.

You didn't need to be Derren Brown to predict that Leeds Rhinos and St Helens would meet in the Grand Final – they've done so in the past two years. Saints came in as League winners on those occasions only to be ambushed by Leeds, but it's the Rhinos who bagged the leaders' shield this time. Saints improved in the play-offs, conceding just two tries, while Leeds suffered a scare against the Catalan Dragons. Leeds, 4-7 favourites, are the more powerful team but Saints have tricky wide players in Leon Pryce and Francis Meli and on Old Trafford's big pitch, this may count. £10 win St Helens, 7-4 (VC Bet).

Heineken Cup organisers will hope there are no Halloween accessories in kit-bags after last season's murky business by Harlequins against Leinster. There is plenty of real blood spilt anyway, so tough is the competition. And given that it doesn't end until May, the bigger units are favoured – Munster 4-1 (Paddy Power), Toulouse 7-1 (sporting bet), holders Leinster 9-1 (William Hill).

I'm going with Stade Français, who've signed Brits James Haskell and Tom Palmer and who know that the final is in Paris. £10 win at 10-1 Skybet. £5 each-way also goes on the Ospreys (20-1, Hill) who boast a core of British Lions – Tommy Bowe, Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, James Hook, Mike Phillips – as well as former All Black powerhouse, Jerry Collins.

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