BBC BLOGS - Bryn Palmer

Archives for May 2011

Awesome Leinster leave Saints shell-shocked

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Bryn Palmer | 21:50 UK time, Saturday, 21 May 2011

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

"That was some match," said a stunned but immensely satisfied Leinster supporter as he reluctantly left the scene of his side's greatest triumph.

You're not wrong, mate. Even by the standards of this ridiculously exhilarating tournament, this Heineken Cup final was a match for the ages.

The best ever? Quite probably. Stade Francais-Leicester in 2001 might have matched it for drama, Wasps-Toulouse in 2004 for quality.

That was a topic for debate as supporters stepped out into the Cardiff evening to put the final touches to a remarkable weekend of European rugby.

All one can say without fear of contradiction is that none of the 72,456 souls fortunate enough to be at Millennium Stadium on Saturday will ever forget the experience.

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Can Northampton stop Leinster in Heineken Cup final?

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Bryn Palmer | 08:58 UK time, Friday, 20 May 2011

On paper at least, the 16th Heineken Cup final has all the ingredients to be a classic.

Leinster and Northampton are two top-drawer sides, chock-full of Test stars, brimming with attacking talent, both eager to give full freedom of expression to their particular brands of positive, attractive rugby.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, nigh-on packed to capacity and hosting its fourth final in 10 years, should be in for a treat.

Victory for either side will see them join the elite band of clubs - Leicester, Wasps, Munster, plus four-times champions Toulouse - who have won the title on two or more occasions.

And while 2009 champions Leinster start marginal favourites, Saints - bidding to become the first side to go through a Heineken Cup campaign unbeaten after winning all six of their pool games - are far from outsiders.

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Heineken Cup the spur for Quins' Euro title tilt

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Bryn Palmer | 10:00 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

For a club who has its sights firmly fixed on a third triumph in the European Challenge Cup this Friday, Harlequins' attitude to the final against Stade Francais at the Cardiff City Stadium might appear something of an anomaly.

Winners in 2001, launching a near decade-long dominance by English clubs, and again in 2004, both times against French opposition, Quins can certainly not be accused of giving the second-tier continental competition less than their full attention.

But above all else - the desire to end a seven-year wait for silverware, the chance to push international claims with a World Cup on the horizon - the prime motivation for victory over the cosmopolitan, pink-clad Parisian ensemble is obvious.

Put bluntly, that is to avoid playing in the same tournament next season.

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