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Champions Cup
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Champions Cup Final Odds: Leinster 8/11 favourites to lift trophy for fifth time

Two of the great names of European rugby meet on Saturday as Leinster face Toulouse in the final of the Champions Cup at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Irish side are the 8/11 favourites to match 6/5 Toulouse in being crowned continental champions for a fifth time.

Leo Cullen's team have a point to prove after losing the 2022 and 2023 finals, both to La Rochelle, but beat Les Maritimes in both the group stages and quarter-finals and are now looking to take down star-studded Stade.

While Leinster are a well-oiled machine, similar to Ireland, just like France Toulouse are laced with individual talent but can be temperamental.

It promises to be a fantastic final in the English capital. Leinster will be looking to match the Top 14 leaders, who are themselves chasing a historic sixth title.

Leinster v Toulouse

Leinster

The benchmark in player development and squad management, the only thing that has been missing for Leinster in recent years, is arguably the most important: silverware.

Their last European Cup triumph came in 2018 and they have lost three of the five finals since, while the United Rugby Championship title has also eluded them, their last success coming in 2020/21.

They remain in the running for URC glory, but have lost momentum in recent months after all but sealing their play-off place and making this competition their top priority.

The post-season starts in June, giving them time to recover and they will be desperate to head into the final part of that competition in high spirits by winning the Champions Cup and finally gaining that fifth star.

After winning four from four to top Pool D, which also included Stormers, La Rochelle, Leicester, Sale and Stade Francais, they again overcame the Tigers before another rematch against La Rochelle.

If their round one pool clash on the Atlantic coast was somewhat of a phoney war as they both put themselves back together after the Rugby World Cup,

March's last-eight game in Dublin was the real deal, but with the caveat that the champions had had to trek back from South Africa where they had beaten Stormers.

Leinster exposed their fatigue and stormed to a 40-13 victory to lay to rest their demons from the last two years, having lost to Ronan O'Gara's side by three points in the 2022 final and just one point in the 2023 showpiece.

Next came Northampton - the team that finished top of the English Premiership - and Leinster burst out of the blocks, leading 15-0 before Saints fought back and Cullen admitted that his side had been "very lucky" to sneak through 20-17.

Still, they are into an eighth final and will be confident after beating Toulouse in each of the last two seasons.

There remain doubts, with referee Matt Carley likely to be sharp around the ruck after complaints from previous opponents, while fly-half Ross Byrne will need his best game.

Byrne has been caught in catch-22 as the eternal understudy to the now-retired Johnny Sexton - too important to leave but not getting the game time his talent or development deserved

He started last season's final and played well, while he kicked what looked to be the match-winning penalty in 2022, only for La Rochelle to storm back.

If his pack gets on top and he can control the game, Byrne could steer his province to glory.

Toulouse

The external view is Leinster are all about systems, while Toulouse are all about skills. That might be harsh on a team with Jamison-Gibson Park at scrum-half and hooker Dan Sheehan and number eight Caelan Doris in their pack.

However, there is sheer excitement around a Stade side who arguably have too many top players to fit in.

Their tally of five Champions Cup is unmatched and they, like Leinster, are preparing for their eighth final since winning the first edition of this tournament in 1995/96.

Since then, Les Rouge et Noir have gone through several star-studded iterations and most recently won this tournament in 2020/21, beating La Rochelle 22-17 at Twickenham.

They won all four of their games to top Pool B, finishing ahead of Harlequins, Bath, Racing 92, Ulster and Cardiff, playing carefree rugby with Thomas Ramos at the heart of everything they did.

However, Romain Ntamack's return from the knee injury that caused him to miss the World Cup and the mid-season signing of Blair Kinghorn from Edinburgh have left Ramos as the odd man out.

Ntamack has been restored at fly-half and Kinghorn's form at full-back is too good to see him dropped.

Kinghorn kicked three goals in the 31-7 last-16 win over Racing and finished Stade's 64-26 quarter-final win over Exeter with a personal haul of 23 points.

The 27-year-old kicked well again in the 38-26 semi-final win over Quins but it was notable that Ramos almost snatched the tee before nailing the touchline conversion after setting up Juan Cruz Mallia's match-clinching try.

That was after Kinghorn had switched to the wing to accommodate his introduction at full-back, with Ntamack steering the ship from 10.

Such depth shows why they lead the Top 14 and Ramos' goal-kicking - he's arguably the best on the planet - means that's how coach Ugo Mola may set the trio up from the start of Saturday's match.

All three can turn games individually, as can centres Pita Ahki and Paul Costes, with all of them fed by the planet's best player, scrum-half Antoine Dupont.

If a moment of magic is required, Toulouse have several candidates and man-for-man are probably more skilful around the field.

However, Leinster have had their number in recent years, especially up front and like Gibson-Park and Byrne, Dupont's and Ntamack's afternoons could depend on the quality of ball they receive from their forwards. 

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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