Harlequins, Ulster, Clermont, and Toulon have all booked their place in the Heineken Cup quarterfinals. That means that there are still four spots available as the competition concludes its pool stage this weekend. With ten teams still mathematically capable of gaining one of those spots, it could mean one of the craziest endings to a pool stage in years. Let’s see how each pool checks out.
Pool 1: Saracens (18 points), Munster (15 points), Racing Metro (12 points), Edinburgh (0 points)
Only needing to secure a win, draw or four-try bonus point, and facing a winless Edinburgh at home, Pool 1 seems destined for the Saracens. They have all the incentive in the world to be at their best this weekend while Edinburgh could play for pride but will more likely want to forget this campaign. Munster could catch Saracens if Saracens lose and they win, but they face a much sterner test in Racing Metro. The Parisians have something to play for as well as a win could help their long-shot odds of claiming one of the two second place quarterfinals spots.
Pool 2: Toulouse (18 points), Leicester (16 points), Ospreys (11 points), Benetton Treviso (1 point)
Pool 2 comes down to the winner of Leicester vs. Toulouse this Sunday at Welford Road. Whoever wins the match wins the pool unless Toulouse earn both bonus points and Leicester pick up none. Both teams will want to maximize their points regardless of the outcome in order to help their claim to a second-place quarterfinal position. This is essentially the last match of the weekend and should be one of the most entertaining to watch. Benetton Treviso will host the Ospreys in the other match but both teams have already been eliminated.
Pool 3: Harlequins (24 points), Biarritz (14 points), Connacht (8 points), Zebre (0 points)
Harlequins have already claimed the top spot in Pool B, but they could be a spoiler to Biarritz’s hopes of making the quarterfinals as a second place finisher. The good news for Biarritz is that they are at home. The bad news is that with only 14 points they will need maximum points from this match and help from other pools. Connacht will host Zebre in the other match in this pool. Both teams have already been eliminated.
Pool 4: Ulster (19 points), Northampton (14 points), Castres (13 points), Glasgow (2 points)
Ulster have already sewn up Pool 4 but big results from Northampton or Castres could see them in the quarterfinals. Northampton have the better draw of the two as they take on Glasgow, who have been poor throughout the competition. Castres will play Ulster at home and need a big victory to have a chance, but it could be too much to ask against a team that has barely lost this season.
Pool 5: Clermont (23 points), Leinster (15 points), Exeter (9 points), Scarlets (2 points)
Leinster are the only team in the pool with something left to play for as they travel to Exeter on Saturday. Currently they are tied for third in the race for one of the second place spots. A nice win could help them join Ulster in the Irish quarterfinal contingent. In the other pool match, pool winners Clermont will play the Scarlets.
Pool 6: Toulon (23 points), Montpellier (18 points), Sale (4 points), Cardiff (2 points)
Montpellier sit in the driver’s seat for one of the two second-place spots. They’ll need that advantage this week as they host Toulon, who have already clinched the pool. Depending on other results Montpellier may only need bonus points to advance but they won’t want to leave anything up to chance. Sale and Cardiff play in the other match in the pool. Both have been eliminated.
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