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Home advantage to see Saracens and Leicester to Grand Final

| 10.05.2013

Defending champions Harlequins have won their last two at Welford Road, but it’s difficult to see them winning a third straight in a game of this magnitude.

Quins have faltered in big games of late, losing at home to Munster in the Heineken Cup, and suffering a convincing defeat at Saracens – it gets no bigger than Leicester at Welford Road.

The Tigers have reached each of the last eight Grand Finals, a quite staggering achievement. They are 4/11 to make a ninth final here, with Harlequins 12/5 to cause an upset.

The London side won 9-22 in Leicester, but that was back in September, and Leicester have since recovered from what for them was a stuttering start. They finished second in the regular season, five points ahead of Quins in third, and also had the second tightest defence this term, conceding over 100 points less than the visitors here over 22 matches.

It is also worth noting that Conor O’Shea’s men’s victory at Welford Road came in the midst of the Six Nations, during which Leicester lost seven of their starting fifteen. With those players – six of whom have been selected for the Lions tour – now available to Richard Cockerill, the Tigers present an altogether different proposition.

Winning margins offer the best value, and 6/4 on a 1-10 point Tigers win certainly tempts, while the same side are 10/11 against a -6 handicap, which should also appeal.

Sunday’s semi-final sees the regular season winners Saracens host Northampton, and the smart money will back a home triumph.

Northampton have struggled against the top clubs under Jim Mallinder, and have failed to beat any of the top three this term. Saracens are 1/3 to prolong Northampton’s misery on Sunday.

Mark McCall’s side are unbeaten since moving to the Allianz Arena in January, and hammered Harlequins 27-12 in their toughest test there to date.

That’s not to say the Saints aren’t competitive in big games however, having lost by just one point at Stadium MK (Sarries’s home ground for the day) in March.

However, they also went down 6-16 at Franklin’s Gardens to Saracens expensively-accrued line-up, and rightly start as 5/2 underdogs – which seems too short in light of their evident shortcomings in clashes with the league’s leading outfits.

Northampton have lost their last three away to Saracens by seven points or less, which happens to be the handicap margin here, and can be taken at 10/11.

Should one feel a converted try margin prove too narrow, Saints to win on a line of +10 at 4/6 deserves much support, while a home win of 1-10 points can be taken at an enticing 6/4.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing



Toby Calnan