Connacht vs Harlequins at Galway, 20.00
Gloucester vs Toulouse at Gloucester, 20.00
Friday sees Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup draw to an intriguing close with Harlequins traveling to Connacht and le rouge et noir facing Gloucester. The matches will kick off simultaneously with various qualification permutations possible. One thing’s for certain though: both Quins and Toulouse will be striving for away wins in the chase for quarter-final places.
Since their formidable start to the season, Quins have stuttered over recent weeks, stumbling to victory against Gloucester in the Heineken and suffering convincing defeats to both Saracens and Northampton in the Premiership. The Stoop side’s blip could be put down to the absence of talismanic fly-half Nick Evans; his replacement Rory Clegg, whilst solid in open play, looked woefully overawed when kicking for goal. However, the New Zealander did not cover himself in glory in last week’s comeback, missing two kicks which, in the early season, would have been formalities.
Sporting Index goes 150-160 on Harlequins kicking metres – to me this seems high. I would recommend a sell, especially considering Danny Care’s propensity to quick-tap at any opportunity and Robshaw’s stubbornness in opting for scrummage when close to the line last weekend. Another market worth considering is the ‘Harlequins Hotshots’, which offers 25 pts per try scored by Messers Smith, Hopper, Monye and Brown. Usually this quirky market is probably best left alone, but the Quins backline continues to be in scintillating form and, at 29-33, Quins electric 15 Brown might be worth the buy on his own.
Over in the West Country, I can’t see anything other than a convincing Toulouse victory: at 4-7 there’s a smidgen of value in the Toulouse/Gloucester supremacy.