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Leinster’s dismantling of French outfit Toulouse in the semis was a real show of their dominance of European Rugby in recent years, and a serious case of their title credentials this year.
A 40-17 victory saw them easily cover the 10-point handicap line that we backed in that game, and while a case could be made that Toulouse were sporting tired legs after their penalty-goals victory in the quarters, there’s hardly any doubt that the end result would have been any different on the day.
La Rochelle were underdogs in their all-French semi against Racing 92, though they came through impressive 20-13 winners on the day and Ronan O’Gara’s men certainly shouldn’t be underestimated in what is their second successive final.
Ultimately, if Leinster are on top of their game, they should have no trouble completing a record tying fifth European Cup, and if La Rochelle want any chance they’re going to have to be take advantage of the few opportunities they’re given.
O’Gara is tactically astute to say the least, and with a breadth of world class players at his disposal, they could spring a surprise or two so expect them to put on a show, even if ultimately it may not be enough.
Leinster -11.5 Handicap
Leinster rested the majority of their side last week against a full-strength Munster side, and still managed a 10-point home victory to highlight the strength in depth in this squad. They’ve been impeccable from the get-go this season, not least in a 89-7 massacre of Montpellier in the group stage.
The Irish side have won seven of their last eight outings against French opposition, with both such outings this season seeing them win by an aggregate 129-24 score line, though the only exception in that run did come against La Rochelle themselves in last year’s semi-final.
The return of Australian Will Skelton will be a massive boost for La Rochelle, with the forward likely to prove critical at set pieces, though coming straight off the back of an injury suggests he won’t be at his peak, and ultimately it seems like Leinster will have too much on this occasion.
LEINSTER -11.5 HANDICAP
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