Leinster have been their imperious selves again this season and will be heavily favoured to beat La Rochelle in the Grand Final of the Heineken Champions Cup at the Stade Vélodrome on Saturday.
Leinster v La Rochelle
To Win Match
Leinster 19/100 | Draw 25/1 | La Rochelle 4/1
Leo Cullen’s side cemented top spot on the United Rugby Championship standings and are set to host Glasgow Warriors in next week’s quarter-final. On Saturday, though, they’ll have their sights well and truly set on equalling Toulouse’s record of five Champions Cup trophies.
While they could be without titanic Tadhg Furlong and jammin’ James Lowe for the decider, the Irish outfit proved in their recent win over Munster that even their so-called “B team” is capable of producing big performances. Not that what we can expect this weekend will be anything like that considering Josh van der Flier, Robbie Henshaw, Hugo Keenan and skipper Johnny Sexton are all set to run out in Marseille.
36-year-old Sexton was in crackling form during his team’s 40-17 demolition of Toulouse in their Dublin semi-final and has recently sparked a debate amongst pundits as to whether he is his country’s greatest ever player. Whether or not that’s the case, what is indubitable is that his influence on Saturday’s proceedings will go a long way to deciding the outcome.
La Rochelle coach Ronan O’Gara, the incumbent Ireland No 10 before Johnny took over, has guided his side to their second final in succession. Unfortunately for them, it’s likely to end the same way it did 12-months ago.
Key for Les Corsaires will be the breakdown, and specifically slowing down Leinster ball. While they should do a better job than fatigued Toulouse in their semi-final, it may still not be enough.
Verdict: Leinster 19/100
While La Rochelle are a great team in their own right and deservedly get another crack at a first major piece of silverware, it’s very difficult to imagine Leinster letting this one slip.