Heineken Cup Preview: Pool 2

Teams: Leicester Tigers, Ospreys, Toulouse, Treviso

McCafferty Unfairness Factor: Low. Treviso may have finished outside the top 6 of the Pro12, but they are de facto Italian champions, and deserve a place. The other three are either league champions (Ospreys, Toulouse) or runners-up (Leicester).

Preview: The proverbial group of death, containing the best team in Wales, the best team in France, historically the biggest guns in England (and the most successful at this level) and the best team in Italy.

Treviso are the obvious bunnies here, but they are no mugs at home – they spoiled Ospreys’ European season last year and nearly turned over Leicester themselves in the recent past – both will be forewarned, but don’t expect Treviso to lose six games, despite the quality of the opposition.

All three of the other sides are domestic heavyweights, but they will all have their eyes on success in both competitions – you won’t find any Castres types here. Each of them are armed with ferocious packs, and will expect to win their home games. Ospreys have often flattered to deceive at this level, but fear nobody – the binning of the galacticos has barely impacted their effectiveness, and Justin Tipruic is the best openside in the NH at present.

As for Leicester and Toulouse, no-one needs reminding of their pedigree in the competition, but they are both coming off disappointing seasons in Europe. Toulouse scraped into the QFs on the back of Quins’ implosion in the Sportsground, following their own implosion to Gloucesters Road Runners, then limply capitulated to Embra. Leicester endured a fearful beating in Ravers on a classic freezing Belfast night and finished 3rd in a nightmare pool, albeit with wins against Ulster (beaten finalists) and Clermont (beaten semi-finalists) and a team decimated by injury. Both will be hoping for redemption this season.

Verdict: This is a desperately difficult pool to call. Each of the big three will win their home games, and it will come down to who doesn’t slip up in Treviso, and how many bonus points they can glean away from home.

We have a slight leaning towards Leicester by dint of their general toughness, and memories of how disinterested Toulouse looked in their crunch game against Glaws last year – the attritional nature of the Top14 seemed to take more focus than usual for Les Rouges et Noirs. Ospreys are much improved, but are perhaps a year or two away from being able to win a group like this. Either way, expect this one to go down to the last breathless mucky scrum.

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3 Comments

  1. Each to his own but I would think Toulouse could be adding another star to their jerseys this year. They have a stronger squad and some of the new young talent they brought through is settling.
    As for looking disinterested, I saw them play away from home in the Top14 a couple of times last year and they looked disinterested too. They can still turn on the brilliance at the drop of a hat. If they do enough to get through the group, they could go all the way.
    Ospreys have always flattered to deceive. They looked good in the RDS last May – good backrow, strong scrum and some exciting backs – but they looked good in 2008/2009 too with the Galacticos. You would have to think they would want a good Heineken Cup run having bagged the Celtic League but it is a tough group.
    Leicester could be the ones to miss out.

  2. toro toro

     /  October 9, 2012

    “de facto” is doing a lot of work here; wouldn’t “the only pro team not to go bust” be just as accurate?

  3. Pete

     /  October 10, 2012

    I think this group is Toulouse’s if they want it, Leicester are slightly ordinary at the moment. I’d back Leicester if Toulouse get all distracted though.

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