Pro14, Round 12 - Teams and Predictions
PREVIEW: Whether it is the race for a place in the final, a Champions Cup berth or simply pride, the remaining rounds of the campaign promise plenty of twists and turns.
Bar a couple of re-arranged fixtures, the 12 teams now know what awaits them as the battle to reach the final and secure European places continues.
Champions Leinster, bidding for a fourth successive title, and nearest rivals Ulster both have away games on Friday with Leo Cullen’s men sitting four points ahead in Conference A. Munster, who won the last of their three titles in 2011, are in a more dominant position in Conference B, having a 10-point advantage over Connacht.
The battle below them for European places is proving even more exciting.
While Ospreys are 12 and 13 points clear of Glasgow Warriors and Dragons respectively, the chasing duo have a game in hand in Conference A. In Conference B, a single point separates third-placed Cardiff Blues from Scarlets in fourth.
Edinburgh sit seven points behind the Blues, who have played two games more, so that fight could well go down to the wire with the two teams clashing in a potential blockbuster of a match in the final round!
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We take a closer look at each match!
Friday, February 19
Dragons v Leinster
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 19.35, 19.35 GMT)
Champions Leinster will hope to be on cloud nine at the full-time whistle as they continue their quest for a fourth successive PRO14 title.Leo Cullen’s men hold a four-point advantage over Ulster at the top of Conference A with five rounds remaining and have won their previous eight meetings with the Dragons.
Leinster’s home defeat by Connacht on January 2 remains their sole loss in all competitions since last September. Dragons, on the other hand, are on a four-game losing streak in the competition which has seen them fall 13 points adrift of the top three, albeit with a game in hand.
@rugby365com: Leinster by 15 points
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Aneurin Owen, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Huw Taylor, 7 Ben Fry, 6 Matthew Screech, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Connor Edwards
Leinster: 15 Max O’Reilly, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Ross Byrne, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Jack Conan, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Ryan Baird, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Marcus Hanan, 18 Tom Clarkson, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Jamie Osborne
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Dan Jones, Mike English
TMO: Ian Davies
Glasgow Warriors v Ulster
Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 19.35, 19.35 GMT)
Ulster know they cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to knock Leinster off top spot. Their loss to the champions last time out ended a run of 10 successive wins in the PRO14 this season and left them four points behind.
Glasgow will be hoping to achieve something they have failed to do in the competition for almost a year – win back-to-back matches.The Warriors have won their last two meetings with Ulster at this venue and still have designs on securing a top-three spot, with them 12 points behind Ospreys with a game in hand.
@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by 5 points
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Ratu Tagive, 13 Robbie Fergusson, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rufus McLean, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Jamie Dobie, 8 Ryan Wilson (captain), 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 James Scott, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Ross Thompson, 23 Ollie Smith
Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy (captain), 6 Nick Timoney, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Matt Faddes
Referee: Ben Blain
Assistant Referees: Hollie Davidson, Dunx McClement
TMO: Andrew McMenemy
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Saturday, February 20
Scarlets v Benetton
(Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli – Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)
Scarlets could end the weekend in the top three of Conference B should they return to winning ways against their winless opponents. The West Walians have suffered three consecutive defeats which has seen Cardiff Blues move one point ahead of them in the standings.
Not since 2016 have Scarlets lost four in a row in the competition. Benetton sit bottom of the conference having been defeated in all 10 matches, with just five bonus points to show for their efforts. They last triumphed at this venue in the 2012/13 season.
@rugby365com: Scarlets by 10 points
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Ryan Conbeer, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Morgan Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Will Homer, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Paul Asquith
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Riccardo Favretto, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Ivan Nemer, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Alberto Sgarbi, 21 Davide Ruggeri, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Edoardo Padovani
Referee: Dan Jones
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Elgan Williams
TMO: Jon Mason
Ospreys v Zebre
(Liberty Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 17.15, 17.15 GMT)
Ospreys will aim to consolidate third place in Conference A when Zebre are the visitors. Toby Booth’s side hold a 12-point lead over Glasgow, albeit having played a game more, but have only been beaten once in five games in the PRO14 – a narrow reverse to Scarlets in Round 9.
Zebre saw their four-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to a halt when they went down 26-10 at home to Edinburgh last month.The Italians are aiming to do the double over the Welsh side for the first time, having triumphed 23-17 in Parma in November.
@rugby365com: Ospreys by 7 points
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Joe Hawkins, 23 Keelan Giles
Zebre: 15 Michelangelo Biondelli, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Tommaso Boni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Nicholas Casilio, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Potu Junior Leavasa, 6 Lorenzo Masselli, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Daniele Rimpelli
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Samuel Ortis, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Paolo Pescetto, 23 Jamie Elliott
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris, Ben Breakspear
TMO: Wayne Davies
Connacht v Cardiff
(Sportsground, Galway – Kick-off: 19.35, 19.35 GMT)
While Connacht will be looking to eat into Munster’s 10-point lead at the top of Conference B, they also know defeat to Cardiff will threaten their hold on second spot.
Connacht have suffered three losses in five games in the competition which has hugely dented their ambitions of making the final. They have also tasted defeat in their previous three games at the Sportsground in the PRO14 – they have not lost four in a row since 2013.
Cardiff have lost just once in four PRO14 matches and are on a three-game winning streak in all competitions on the road so another victory here could have big ramifications for the conference.
@rugby365com:Cardiff by 5 points
Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Tom Daly, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Jarrad Butler (captain), 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Jordan Duggan
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Oisin Dowling, 20 Abraham Papali’i, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Sean O’Brien, 23 Tiernan O’Halloran
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Ben Murphy, 20 Gwilym Bradley, 21 Jamie Hill, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Harri Millard
Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant Referees: Chris Busby, Peter Martin
TMO: Frank Murphy
Edinburgh v Munster
(BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 19.35, 19.35 GMT)
Munster can take a step closer to reaching their first PRO14 final since 2017 should they leave the Scottish capital victorious. With a 10-point lead in Conference B, Munster will look to continue their fine form on the road having lost just once in any competition since September.
They also have a decent record at this venue having prevailed in three of their last four visits. Edinburgh have won two of their last three in the PRO14 and will still be targeting a top-three finish with them trailing Cardiff by seven points but with two games in hand.
@rugby365com: Munster by 3 points
Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Jack Blain, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Andrew Davidson, 3 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 2 David Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Magnus Bradbury, 20 Ally Miller, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Nathan Chamberlain, 23 Matt Currie
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Jack O’Sullivan, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Rory Scannell
Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White, David Sutherland
TMO: Neil Paterson