Crunch time for Toulouse and Leicester

Updated: January 18, 2013

Its crunch time in the final round of the group stages of the Heineken Cup, as 4 times champions Toulouse and the Leicester Tigers go head to head in a must win game for either side if they wish to remain in the competition. Toulouse sit atop Pool Two on 18 points, with Leicester, themselves twice champions, just two points adrift after last week’s dramatic 15-15 draw with Ospreys.

Last years finalists Ulster, French duo Toulon and Clermont, and the Premiership champions Harlequins have already qualified coming into the last round with a host of other clubs are hoping to join them. Ten other clubs can mathematically qualify for the quarters, but realistically Leinster and Munster will be vying for the two best runners-up places with Montpellier.

Leinster, seeking an unprecedented third European title in three years, travel to Exeter in a Pool Five topped by Clermont, chasing one of the two best runners-up places. A win is the minimum requirement for the reigning champions, while five points will probably be needed along with favourable results elsewhere.

Two-time champions Munster kept alive their hopes of reaching this season’s quarters from Pool One with an unimpressive 26-17 win over pointless Edinburgh last weekend.
A victory for Pool One leaders Saracens over Edinburgh would see them confirmed as pool winners. Munster have to defeat Racing Metro at Thomond Park and hope that Saracens lose to Edinburgh in order to top the pool. If both Munster and Saracens win, then Munster need results elsewhere to go in their favour if they’re to emerge as one of the two best runners-up.

The key game of the round for those teams not yet qualified could well be the all-French clash between Montpellier and Toulon in Pool Six. A losing bonus point at Montpellier would be enough to secure Toulon a home quarterfinal, but a home win for Montpellier in Saturday’s game would vastly change the landscape for the best runners-up places.