The Heineken Cup semi-finals take place this weekend, with both Ulster and Leinster featuring. Ulster are up first, they face Edinburgh at 5.45 on Saturday, at the Aviva. On Sunday, Leinster play Clermont at 3 in France. 
Ulster scored quite an upset in the quarter-final, beating Munster at Thomond Park. They became only the 2nd team in Heineken history to beat Munster at Thomond in the knock-out stages (the first being Leicester). Munster aren’t the force they have been, but it was still quite an achievement.
This will be the 1st time Ulster have appeared in a Heineken semi since winning the cup in 1999. They’ve injury problems leading up to the match but should be almost at full strength on match day.
Edinburgh scored an even bigger upset, when they beat Heineken giants, Toulouse in their quarter-final (Munster v Toulouse would have been quite a semi-final). This will be Edinburgh’s first ever Heineken semi, no scottish team after ever featured in a Heineken semi before.
My money is on Ulster to win. I think they have a better team, and I have a feeling that Edinburgh have already played their final in beating Toulouse. Ulster have the home advantage, sort of, but that doesn’t seem to help Irish sides, anyway. Ulster are the bookies favourites, odds are 2/5.
Leinster had an easier time in their quarter-final, beating an injury-ridden Cardiff. Cardiff have had a lot of problems of later, with player injuries, and also a lot of players are leaving the club at the end of the season. Leinster were dominant for most of the game.
Clermont had a pretty easy quarter-final as well, against Saracens. Clermont have quite a team, with the majority of the French side, including centres Rougerie and Fofana. Fofana was many peoples pick for player of the 6 Nations. Granted the french side didn’t play well, but the players should perform for their club. Clermont also have New Zealand flyer Sivivatue on the wing, and Welsh and Lion fullback Lee Byrne augmenting the side.
Of course, Leinster had a star-studded side as well, helped by the return of Brian O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll, of course, missed the 6 Nations but he seems to be making up for lost time. He’s been on top form since he returned.
The teams are pretty evenly matched. Of course, when France played Ireland in the 6 Nations, the result was a draw. The players should be on much better form for their clubs. I think Leinster will win in a very tight contest.
There is still a chance of an all-Ireland Heineken final, in Twickenham. Wouldn’t that be something!

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