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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 12:50 GMT
Tigers and Saints on collision course

Leicester's Rod Kafer in action against Northampton
Tigers and Saints face tricky quarter-finals
The Heineken Cup semi-final draw has raised the prospect of an all-English clash between Leicester and Northampton.

The Zurich Premiership rivals will face each other if holders Leicester beat Munster and Saints see off Toulouse in the quarter-finals.

The other semi-final will see the winners of the Leinster v Biarritz tie take on either Llanelli or Perpignan.

Toulouse and Northampton were drawn first from the drum, meaning the winner will play their semi-final at a neutral venue in their home country.

The same will apply for Leinster or Biarritz, with the matches to be played on the weekend of 25-27 April.

Austin Healey, who scored Leicester's match-winning try in last season's final, said: "I am not sure how much home country advantage means because the best side normally comes through on the day.

"Obviously, it will be difficult to go to France and win but, for the time being, I don't think we are in any position to be looking any further ahead than the game against Munster.

"Having said that," he added, "we would love to carry off a third European title.

Austin Healey scores Leicester's winning try in last year's final against Munster
Retaining the Heineken Cup is Leicester's priority
"At the start of the season we said that we would ideally like to win all three competitions in which we play.

"However, if you could only have one of those, then I suppose the Heineken Cup would be the choice."

If Munster avenge last year's Millennium Stadium defeat by the Tigers, though, they could face a rematch with their 2000 final conquerors, Northampton.

European Rugby Cup chief executive Derek McGrath defended the timing of the draw, made almost three months ahead of the semi-finals.

"I know there are some people who are questioning our decision to hold the draw before the quarter-finals are played," said McGrath.

"But I think it heightens the excitement and deals with the problems of organisation."


Heineken Cup semi-finals - to be played on the weekend of 25-27 April

Toulouse or Northampton v Leicester or Munster
Leinster or Biarritz v Llanelli or Perpignan

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 ON THIS STORY
 Leicester's Austin Healy
"I'd like the tie to be played at Welford Road"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

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