Magners League Finale Preview

The Magners League rumbles to its conclusion this weekend, with two playoff spots up for grabs and Leinster needing a win to secure home advantage in their semi-final.

The format has added to the tournament, and should provide a bit of drama at some stage this weekend. It’s any two from Ulster, Cardiff and Ospreys for the final two spots. Any victory will be enough for Ulster, who travel to Dragons. We predict they’ll probably eke out yet another tight win – it’s becoming a trademark.

Even a much-changed Leinster line-up should have enough to beat Glasgow, whose best players have been preposterously withdrawn from the final rounds by Andy Robinson. We’ll be closely watching Kevin McLaughlin’s progress in the second row, and it’ll be worth seeing how Glasgow 13 Mark Bennett gets on. He’s an 18 year old prospect who’s allegedly been offered a deal by Clermont. Scottish rugby could do with some cheering up, so let’s see if they’ve finally unearthed a centre of true quality. No pressure then, laddie.

That would leave Ospreys and Cardiff fighting over the last spot. Both appear to be doing their best to avoid the daunting trip to Limerick, stepping over each other to throw away games. Ospreys will surely get the win they need in Aironi, meaning Cardiff will have to beat the Scarlets, or they are sunk. We suspect the Scarlets (who we’ve quite enjoyed watching this year) may just take this one.

Connacht won’t enjoy running into a wounded Munster team. In all likelihood it’s a last ever start at Thomond Park for liginds John Hayes and Alan Quinlan (and possibly Marcus Horan), so expect the team to do everything they can to make it a memorable one. We’ll be keeping tabs on Mike Sherry, the latest product of the Munster hooker factory, who has put in some nice cameos this year. Damian Varley is a fine player, but appears to have got the yips on his throwing, so if Sherry impresses here, he could start some big games to come.

All of which would leave us looking at Munster v Ospreys and Leinster v Ulster in the semi-finals.

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