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Paddy Power Preview: Clermont Auvergne v Leinster

Paddy Power Preview: Clermont Auvergne v Leinster

Leinster have a huge task on their hands when they travel to the home of the reigning French champions, but they have got one crucial advantage they’ve seldom been able to boast in previous visits to France – in-depth inside knowledge of their opponents.

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Joe Schmidt spent several seasons as part of the Clermont Auvergne coaching ticket and who is better placed to bring the house down than a man who played a huge part in building it up?

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Any knowledge of Achilles heels will be welcome, because although the reigning Top 14 champions haven’t had an ideal start to the defence of their hard-won domestic title, they pack a potent threat all over the pitch.

In fact, rather than being a sign of any significant demise it may be an indication of where this season’s priorities lie.

Having finally landed the holy grail of the Top 14 crown, the attitude may be now it’s time to land the Heineken Cup title that would truly mark them out as one of Europe’s giants.

Whatever way you look at it, Leinster are going to need a performance that rivals Toulouse 2006 to claim a huge win.

An altogether less celebrated, but possibly more relevant reference point may come from the 2008/09 campaign when the Blues went to Castres, played poorly by their standards, but had the determination and resolve to claim a losing bonus point.

Trivial it may have seemed at the time, but it eased the path to the knockout phase and we all know what happened thereafter.

That cold December night showed that Leinster had become a team capable of grinding it out away from home and several examples since mean there’s no need for fans to be overly pessimistic. They’ve got the players who can defend relentlessly and launch stinging couter-attacks when the opportunities come.

There’s a chance Clermont Auvergne’s form has little to do with ‘eggs in baskets’ and they really have digressed from last season’s triumphant side. 7/2 for a Leinster win is around the price that has you thinking a win is possible.

If Leinster implement their gameplan, we can expect a controlled game with the scoreboard unlikely to be moving at the same ferocious pace as the match itself.

A look at the shorter options in the Winning Margin market wouldn’t be inappropriate, chief amongst them the Leinster +9 points is a option @ 10/11.

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