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Ospreys

Pro12 | Rodney Parade
17:05 (GMT) | 01-01-2017
Mc article ruan pienaar ulster points 800

PREVIEW: PRO12, ROUND 12

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 14:26

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The race to reach the PRO12 Final at Aviva Stadium is now at the halfway mark and Munster Rugby are leading the charge after their bonus-point win against age-old rivals Leinster Rugby.

Pro12 leaders Munster travel to Galway to take on Connacht at the Sportsground where the hosts are looking to overcome an incredible injury list to claw their way back into the fight for a top-six finish. Connacht won this fixture last season on their way to the Pro12 Final, but Munster have not lost a Championship game since early October and their momentum will be difficult to stop.

Both Italian sides will welcome Scottish opposition on the eve of Hogmanay as Benetton Treviso take on Glasgow Warriors and Zebre Rugby get another bite at Edinburgh Rugby, who they defeated in Round Seven for their first away win of the season.

In Wales, Scarlets will aim to regain their winning run against Cardiff Blues after their seven-game unbeaten streak in the Pro12 ended at Ospreys in Round 11. Wayne Pivac’s team have been formidable at home this season and have not lost at Parc y Scarlets since Munster left as winners in Round One. Newport-Gwent Dragons will also have to stop the momentum from Ospreys, who are now in second place in the table, and Steve Tandy’s men must get a result to capitalise on any slip-up by Munster.

The game to watch would definitely be Leinster up against Ulster, Leinster will be out to rebound from their defeat at Thomond Park to Munster by accounting for an Ulster team that travels to Dublin with a poor record in the Irish capital. Many of the home team’s key players who missed the trip to Limerick are set to be back in situ as Leinster aim to defend their 18-game unbeaten run in the Pro12 at the RDS Arena which dates back to February 2015.

Ulster meanwhile will be looking to find success in Dublin where they have traditionally struggled and only one win against Leinster has been claimed by the northern province in the Irish capital since 1999. However, Ulster should be boosted by the presence of both Ruan Pienaar and Charles Piutau, both of whom have been in outstanding form this season and feature in the Top Performers list for Round 11.

We take a look at all the Round 12 action!

Saturday, December 31

BENETTON TREVISO v GLASGOW WARRIORS
(Stadio Monigo - Kick-off: 14.05; 13.05 GMT)

Benetton Treviso have won their last three matches in all competitions but have not won four in a row since 2011/12.

However, the Italians have not beaten a Scottish opponent since Edinburgh visited Stadio Monigo in March 2014.

Glasgow Warriors have won their last three matches in all competitions, with their victory over Edinburgh in
the PRO12 on Boxing Day ending a three game losing run in the Championship. Warriors have won their last 21 encounters with Italian opponents.

Benetton Treviso have not beaten Glasgow Warriors since they visited Firhill in September 2011 and won 15-13.

Teams:

Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Robert Barbieri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Matteo Zanusso , 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Teofilo Paulo, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Tommaso Iannone.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Junior Bulumakau, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Stuart Hogg, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Adam Ashe, 5 Brian Alainu'uese, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 D'arcy Rae, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Sean Lamont.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Claudio Blessano (Italy)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

CONNACHT  v MUNSTER
(Sportsground, Kick-off: 17.30; 17.30 GMT)

Connacht Rugby’s last eight matches in the PRO12 have all gone in favour of the home side.

Connacht have won their last six matches at The Sportsground in all tournaments since Ospreys were victorious there in Round Two of the PRO12.

Munster’s solitary defeat in the last nine rounds of the PRO12 was 14-25 to Leinster at Aviva
Stadium on October 8.

The Munstermen have the second-best away record in the PRO12 this season with a won four lost one record on their travels despite the fact that they have scored nine tries and conceded nine in those games.

Connacht achieved a season’s double over Munster for the first time ever last year and have won three of their last four contests against their southern neighbours. Munster have been defeated on their last two visits to the Sportsground.

Teams:

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 George Ford (cc), 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Matt Garvey (co-captain), 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Max Clark, 23 Anthony Watson.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (co-captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 James Short.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Naulia Dawai, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 John Andress, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Danny Qualter, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Ciaran Gaffney, 23 Rory Moloney.

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Billy Holland (captain), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Jack O'Donoghue, 5 Dave Foley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Dave Kilcoyne, 17 Kevin O'Byrne, 18 Thomas Du Toit, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Te Aihe Toma, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Jaco Taute.

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

LEINSTER v ULSTER
(RDS Arena, Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

Leinster Rugby have lost two of their last three fixtures in the PRO12 but both losses were played away from home, in Llanelli and in Limerick.

At the RDS Arena the Leinstermen have not been defeated since Toulon were the visitors in December 2015, whilst their most recent defeat at home in the PRO12 was to Newport Gwent Dragons in 2015.

Ulster Rugby have won their last two matches in the PRO12, in Cardiff and at home to Connacht. Their two other victories on the road this season were at Treviso in Round two and at Glasgow in Round four.

The last six fixtures between the two provinces have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Ulster’s only previous victory at the RDS Arena was 22-18 in March 2013.

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa (captain), 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Rory O’Loughlin, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Jeremy Loughman, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Clive Ross, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warrick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Jonny Simpson, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Brett Herron, 22 Louis Ludik, 22 Jacob Stockdale.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Joy Neville (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

ZEBRE v EDINBURGH
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Kick-off: 12.00; 11.00 GMT)

Zebre rugby have lost their last three PRO12 fixtures since beating Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield in Round Seven. The Italians have not won at home in the Championship this season, their most recent victory at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi was against Newport Gwent Dragons in May.

Edinburgh Rugby are one of only two sides who have yet to pick up a single league point on their travels this season – the other being Treviso. The Scotsmen’s most recent win in the Championship was over Ulster at BT Murrayfield in round eight.

Four of Zebre’s fourteen PRO12 victories have been against Edinburgh whilst the only other side they have achieved a league double over was Treviso in season 2015/16.

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Kurt Baker, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Faialaga Afamasaga, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Guillermo Roan, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Mattia Bellini.

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Will Helu, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Jack Cosgrove, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Glenn Bryce.

Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Filippo Bertelli (Italy)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Sunday, January 1

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS v OSPREYS
(Rodney Parade, Kick-off: 17.05; 17.05 GMT)

Newport Gwent Dragons last six matches in the PRO12 have all gone in favour of the home side, whilst Dragons have won their last five matches at Rodney Parade in all competitions since Glasgow were the visitors in round five of the PRO12.

Dragons have won just one of their last 18 clashes against fellow Welsh regions in the PRO12: 23-17 away at Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day 2014.

Ospreys have suffered just one reversal in the last six rounds of the PRO12 – to Munster in Cork in November. Ospreys have lost just one of their last dozen inter-region matches: to Scarlets at Liberty Stadium in March.

The Swansea based side have won their last ten matches against Dragons since their opponents from the east won by a single point at Rodney Parade in January 2012.

Teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Rynard Landman, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Adam Warren.

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Sam Underhill, 22 Brendon Leonard, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

SCARLETS v CARDIFF BLUES
(Parc y Scarlets, Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

Scarlets seven game winning run in the PRO12 came to an end in Swansea on December 27, however at Parc y Scarlets their only defeat this season came at the hands of Munster in the opening round of the PRO12.

Cardiff Blues have won just twice in the last seven rounds of the PRO12: at Treviso in round eight and at home to Newport Gwent Dragons on Boxing Day.

Scarlets won 26-15 when the two sides met in Cardiff in round seven and have not achieved a season’s double
over the Blues since 2012/13. The Blues won in Llanelli last season, something that they had not done since 2010.

Teams:

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 Johnny Mcnicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 John Barclay, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Hadleigh Parkes.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Rhun Williams, 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Nicky Robinson, 23 Cory Allen.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Jon Hardy (Wales),
TMO: Paul Adams (Wales)

@PRO12rugby

Mc article justin tipuric try ospreys 2016 800

Ospreys win dour Welsh derby

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 19:29

REPORT: Ospreys climbed to second in the Pro12 table as Justin Tipuric's first-half try was the difference in an attritional 10-0 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

With conditions not conducive to running rugby, a Welsh derby that contained more than 100 kicks from hand – with varying levels of success – was essentially decided by Tipuric's 12th-minute score.

Great combination play from Tom Habberfield and Olly Cracknell enabled the flank to cross the whitewash, while it took another 60 minutes for the scorers to be troubled again, when Dan Biggar added a late penalty for the visitors.

Angus O'Brien missed two three-pointers for the Dragons as Ospreys did enough to get the victory on the board – seeing them leapfrog Leinster into second, just two points behind league leaders Munster.

A cagey opening saw both teams struggle to get used to the boggy conditions at Rodney Parade with Pat Howard's interception of Josh Matavesi's loose pass a rare moment of excitement, only for Matavesi to recover in defence and win the ball back.

And the sole score of the opening period came from the half's one moment of true quality, on 12 minutes.

Ospreys scrumhalf Habberfield made the initial break, squirming out of one tackle and releasing the impressive Cracknell before the former Wales Under-20 international drew the last defender and offloaded to back-row partner Tipuric to canter over.

The try saw the 27-year-old bring up 100 points for Ospreys while his Wales teammate Biggar – who recently became the first man to score 2000 points in the regional rugby era – slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Habberfield was sin-binned on 17 minutes but the Dragons failed to take advantage of the extra man, while O'Brien also spurned an opportunity to get the hosts on the board by putting a penalty wide of the left-hand upright just after the half-hour mark.

With the conditions causing both sides to consistently opt to put boot on ball, rather than keeping it in hand, the game became a territorial kicking battle.

The second half began with Ospreys twice turning down the chance for points by booting penalties to the corner but the Dragons defence held firm in the face of pressure.

O’Brien had another opportunity to narrow the deficit but his 66th-minute penalty from near halfway drifted agonisingly wide of the right upright.

And on 72 minutes, Biggar gave the visitors an unassailable 10-0 lead by slotting a three-pointer of his own, as, despite late pressure, the Dragons were unable to get anything on the board.

The scorers:

For Newport Gwent Dragons:
None

For Ospreys:
Try: Tipuric
Con: Biggar
Pen: Biggar

Yellow card: Tom Habberfield (Ospreys, 17)

Teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Rynard Landman, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Adam Warren.

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Sam Underhill, 22 Brendon Leonard, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

@PRO12rugby