Ulster and Edinburgh lock horns on Saturday in Dublin with the winner advancing to the Heineken Cup Final at Twickenham next month.
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Edinburgh travel to Dublin viewed by many as the real underdogs in this semi-final, but if Ulster treat their Scottish opponents lightly they could get turned over as Michael Bradley’s side have made it to this stage with some impressive performances.
In their Pool they won five of six games and defeated the likes of London Irish, Racing-Metro and Cardiff Blues – which is no easy job – before recording an impressive victory over Toulouse in the last round.
Edinburgh (14/1 BetFred
outright) are looking a completely different prospect in the Heineken Cup as in the RaboDirect PRO12, so any Ulster fan smugly remembering their two league wins over Saturday’s opponents could be in for a shock.
All eyes for Ulster (7/2 Tournament Outright) will be on Ruan Pienaar to kick the points to send them through, as he has been in superb form for the Northern Irish side and if Edinburgh give him chances within range he will punish them more often than not.
Coach Brian McLaughlin has been forced into a few changes and are without key players John Afoa, missing through suspension, and Chris Henry, injured, for Saturday’s game. He has made a brave call by picking youngster Paddy Jackson at number ten ahead of Ian Humphreys but McLaughlin is confident he can rise to the occasion.
For Edinburgh, they are blessed as they are not only able to name the identical starting XV that toppled Toulouse but also had the opportunity to rest a number of players last weekend.
It is in the pack where Ulster will face a huge battle and Stephen Ferris, Willie Faloon and Pedrie Wannenburg will have their hands full against David Denton, Ross Rennie and Netani Talei.
There remains no argument that Edinburgh are a different proposition in the Heineken Cup and will revel in their underdog status, but Ulster are a strong outfit and look capable of getting the better of their opponents in Saturday’s semi-final, but only just (Match Betting 80mins – Ulster 1/3, draw 20/1, Edinburgh 9/4).