RTÉ Rugby analyst Donal Lenihan anticipates a successful weekend for the Irish provinces in the final round of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage, predicting that Leinster and Connacht will join the other two in the knockout phase.

While Ulster and Munster are already qualified with three wins from three, Leinster and Connacht still aren't assured of a top-eight place in their respective pools.

The former are only in this situation due to their contentious "loss" in their cancelled away game in Montpellier, the EPCR awarding a 28-0 win to the Top 14 side, deeming Leinster to have been mostly responsible for the cancellation.

Leo Cullen's side were deeply miffed by the outcome - even more so when later postponed games were called 0-0 draws - and may have taken some of their anger out on the French outfit last week, running up a barely believable tally of 89 points.

And Lenihan foresees them encountering little difficulty away to the Gallagher Premiership's bottom team Bath at the Recreation Ground this weekend.

"They were ruthless against Montpellier in their first game in five weeks, scoring more than a point every minute," Lenihan told RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland.

Jimmy O'Brien running in a try in Leinster's 89-7 win over Montpellier

"Bath are bottom of the Gallagher Premiership, they've won one game in 12 so you'd expect Leinster not only to win, but to win well with a bonus point and secure a place in the last-16."

Connacht's fate is rather more uncertain. At one point last Saturday, the westerners appeared to be sailing into the knockout phase, having racked up an 18-point lead against Leicester Tigers early in the second half.

However, they wilted in the final quarter, the Premiership table toppers coming on strong, snatching the win with a dramatic last minute try, finished in the corner by Hosea Saumaki.

But Lenihan is confident they can go away to Stade Francais and win, leaning on their handsome win over the same opposition in the Sportsground as evidence.

"They were really impressive against Leicester Tigers who lead the Gallagher Premiership, 18 points up with half an hour to go and they somehow contrived to lose the game in the last second.

"They'll be massively disappointed but look, they go to Paris, playing against Stade Francais. They beat them 36-9 in Galway. It's within their own hands.

"I think Connacht have enough to win this game. Even a losing bonus point might be enough for them to qualify, but I think they have enough to win which qualify them for a Champions Cup knockout phase for the first time ever."


Ulster and Munster are safely bound for the knockout phase, though victories would assure them of a home draw in the last-16.

Lenihan fancies Ulster to weather the challenge of Clermont in Belfast, but suggests that Munster need to be wary of a resurgent Wasps in Thomond Park.

"Their priority will be to win the game. Then it's a question of trying to maximise your return in terms of points because the higher up you finish, the better placed you are for the knockouts. Home advantage is everything in Europe.

"Ulster are in a really good place, there could be a bit of an edge to this one. Jono Gibbes, coach of Clermont, and he returns to Kingspan Stadium for the first time since he left under a little bit of a cloud a couple of seasons ago. I expect Ulster to win it.

"Munster, a totally different game to their opening round, when both teams were shorn 15/16 players each for Covid reasons. Wasps, however, now that they're getting their players back, have beaten Leicester and Toulouse in their last two outings. So, Munster need to be careful in this one."

Follow Bath v Leinster (Saturday, 1pm), Ulster v Clermont (Saturday, 5.30pm), Stade v Connacht (Sunday, 1pm) and Munster v Wasps (Sunday, 3.15pm) via our live blogs on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News App, or listen to live radio coverage of Bath v Leinster on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and RTÉ Radio 1.