Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Tyrone Howe: Leinster double hopes alive and well

Three more weekends of rugby and the only team fighting on both domestic and Heineken fronts is Leinster.

This is a tribute to the quality of squad and sustained effort from Joe Schmidt and his men. But there are plenty of teams still looking for this most prized scalp in the RaboDirect Pro12.

The Ospreys will fancy their chances against Munster.

Since the announcements of some high profile departures in the middle of the season the Ospreys have regrouped extremely well. They have gone back to basics and their success to date has been based on the solid foundations of its front five. Home advantage and the absence of Paul O’Connell for Munster make the Ospreys my favourites for a final spot.

Despite the prospect of a Heineken Cup final, it is hard to see Leinster allowing Glasgow to deny them the chance of more silverware.

Such is the competition for places, the incentive for many Leinster squad players is to make it into the matchday 22 for the 19th May. A home win.

In the Aviva Premiership, Jim Mallinder must feel that he goes into battle with one hand tied behind his back.

No Hartley, Lawes, Wood or Clarke, and despite finally getting to the playoffs, the Saints have spluttered and stuttered ever since losing that opening Heineken game to Munster.

Conor O’Shea has imbued his men with a tremendous sense of ambition and adventure and they deserve to make the final.

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