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Friday 24 November 2017

Blues set to 'ram it home'

CAPTAIN Leo Cullen has stressed how Leinster have to "ram home" their advantage at the top of Pool Three to ensure a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup.

It won't be easy. Montpellier are the Connacht of French rugby in the sense that this is their baptism into the Heineken Cup.

Of course, they have fared better, with one win and two draws from five matches and coach Joe Schmidt's sources in France have left him in no doubt that they will come "fully armed" with their best team.

They also differ from many other French clubs because in coach Fabien Galthie they have an outward-looking planner who is aligned with Guy Noves in the respect he shares for the Cup.

Montpellier have a 50pc return from their 15 matches in the French Top 14, seven wins, seven losses and a draw.

Indeed, they have won three of their last four in their domestic league since the start of December. In that time, they have stretched all those they have met in Europe, clipping Bath 24-22 last week.

Make no mistake, Leinster will have to be spot-on in their attitude or they risk leaving the door open for a Montpellier that have shown no fear on the road.

Leinster may not get a reward for finishing the Pool phase as number one seeds with a bonus-point win tomorrow. Don't forget, the fierce Clermont-Auvergne hold the eighth seed at the moment.

Of course, the permutations can't come into it until Sunday evening, when all the questions will be answered and the fate of the champions, Munster and Ulster, is known.

Coach Joe Schmidt has grown used to hammering out warning signs to all pretenders in their previous jousts with French opponents Clermont and Racing Metro at home last season.

It should be Montpellier's turn to take their medicine in the face of a Leinster side lined with players looking to make one final impression on Ireland coach Declan Kidney ahead of the Six Nations.

Leinster v Montpellier, the rds, tomorrow 1.30 (live Sky Spts 1)

Verdict: Leinster

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