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Cardiff set to continue the fall of Munster

Cardiff Blues v Munster, Cardiff City Stadium, Sunday


This could be a humdinger as Cardiff go about preparing for the Challenge Cup final against Toulon and with Munster determine to take something out of the year.

If the Blues can beat Munster by more than seven points they will qualify for the Magners play-offs on the basis that they will hold one more win over the course of the regular season.

Coach Dai Young is sure to put half his eggs in this basket as Cardiff roll in search of their fourth win in five in this competition. Their decision over London Wasps in the Challenge Cup semi-final has provided more fuel to their fire.

It would leave Munster outside the loop in league and cup and provide further evidence that their decline could be more permanent than temporary. The fact is they were beaten by a limited Biarritz in the Heineken Cup.

It would be well within Munster's compass to answer the critics with another defiant display; losing by less than seven would be enough for a semi-final berth.

The absence of Paul O'Connell, Mick O'Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Doug Howlett and Ian Dowling makes this most unlikely.

Verdict: Cardiff

Ulster will add to woe of West

Ulster v Connacht, Ravenhill, TONIGHT (LIVE SETANTA IRL, 7.30)

What was billed as the biggest match in the history of Connacht rugby a few short weeks ago now assumes all the importance of 'just another match'.

The treble disaster of Connacht's fall to Toulon in the Challenge Cup semi-final, Ulster's resurgence and the corresponding demise of their Heineken Cup neighbours means all avenues have been closed to their access to Europe's premier tournament.

Consequently, the momentum swings very definitely in favour of Ulster as they bid to give their loyal fans a solid send-off into the summer months.

The manner of their devastation of Edinburgh must have eased the burden of pressure on the shoulders of their coach Brian McLaughlin. Their Heineken Cup status has been maintained. So, too, should their dominance over Connacht.

Verdict: Ulster

Ulster: J Smith, A Trimble, D Cave, I Whitten, S Danielli, I Humphreys, P Marshall; T Court, R Best (capt), BJ Botha, E O'Donoghue, D Tuohy, C Henry, W Faloon, R Diack.

Connacht: G Duffy; B Tuohy, N Ta'auso, A Wynne, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; R Loughney, S Cronin, J Hagan; M McCarthy, B Upton; J Muldoon (capt), M McComish, G Naoupu.