PREVIEW: Pro14, Round 11
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: It’s been a while, but after the excitement of the second weekend of Six Nations it’s time for the Pro14 to return to centre-stage once again.
Round 11 sees some intriguing ties take place, with clubs across the Championship looking to take crucial points.
Round 10 will be some act to follow after Pro14 sides treated us to a feast of excellent rugby way back in early January, while we’ve also had the excitement of two South African derbies since then. Back at the start of the year runaway Conference A leaders Leinster kept their 100 percent record running with a comprehensive 54-7 defeat of Connacht in front of 18 300 spectators.
Elsewhere, an all-Welsh clash between Cardiff Blues and Scarlets ended with the latter getting the better of their hosts with a 16-14 victory at Cardiff Arms Park. There were resounding wins for Edinburgh and Zebre as they dismissed the Southern Kings and Cheetahs 61-13 and 41-13 respectively.
The Kingspan Stadium saw 17 461 fans turnout to watch Ulster take on Munster in what proved to be an entertaining clash. It was the home side who eventually came out on top as they secured a 38-17 success which leaves them second in Conference A.
It was also a productive round for Glasgow Warriors and Dragons, and they come into Round 11 on the back of victories against Benetton and Ospreys respectively. With plenty to play for heading into the business end of the season, the importance of picking up points will only grow in the coming weeks, starting with Round 11.
We take a closer look at all the matches in Round 11.
Friday, February 14:
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 19.35, 19.35 GMT; 20.35 Italy time)
Glasgow Warriors look to extend their impressive run of results against Italian sides when they take on Zebre at Scotstoun.
They have lost just once in their past 31 meetings with teams from Italy and have won five on the spin against Zebre.
A 7-31 loss when they hosted Warriors in November will do little to imbue Zebre with confidence, but they do come into the match on the back of three wins in a row in all competitions.
George Horne has been Glasgow’s main threat with five tries this term and the Scots will look to make it 16 wins from 16 against Zebre.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Pete Horne, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Rob Harley, 3 Oli Kebble, 2 George Turner, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Mesu Dolokoto, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Kyle Steyn.
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Paula Balekana, 13 Jamie Elliott, 12 Tommaso Boni (captain), 11 Pierre Bruno, 10 Michelangelo Biondelli, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Apisai Tauyavuca, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ian Nagle, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Daniele Rimepelli.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Riccardo Burgnara, 18 Alexandru Tarus, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 George Biagi, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Enrico Lucchin, 23 Jimmy Tuivaiti.
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Munster v Southern Kings
(Irish Independent Park, Cork – Kick-off: 19:35; 19.35 GMT; 21.35 SA time)
Munster are in huge need of a Pro14 victory after a run of just one win in their last four. Defeat would see them lose three in a row at home for the first time since February 2016.
Their opponents on Friday have serious concerns of their own and come into the match with a solitary win to their name this term, which came away at Ospreys in Round Six. They failed to lay a glove on Munster on their last visit to Independent Park, suffering a 43-0 defeat.
The Kings are rooted to the foot of the Conference B table, while Munster sit a point adrift of second-place Scarlets.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Neil Cronin, 8 Arno Botha, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Gavin Coombes, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Rory Scannell.
Southern Kings: 15 Andell Loubser, 14 Chris Hollis, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Eddie Ludick, 10 Demetri Catrakils, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Bobby de Wee, 6 Lusanda Badiyana, 5 JC Astle (captain), 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Ignatius Prinsloo, 19 Aston Fortuin, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 221 Luyolo Dapula, 22 Josh Allderman, 23 Courtney Winnaar.
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Johnny Erskine (Ireland)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)
Saturday, February 15:
Leinster v Cheetahs
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off: 14:30; 14.30 GMT; 16.30 SA time)
Leinster’s imperious form this term has them in the hunt for an historic unblemished campaign and they have won every game they have played this season. That class has taken them comfortably to the top of the Conference A table with a Nadia Comăneci style 10 from 10.
A daunting task for Cheetahs is made all the more challenging when their history in Ireland is considered and they are yet to avoid defeat in seven Championship visits to the province.
They lost 7-19 in their last outing at RDS Arena but, sit third in the table and will hope to provide a serious test for their hosts boosted by their pair of derby wins.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Jimmy O’Brien, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ciarán Frawley, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Will Connors, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Scott Penny, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Cian Kelleher
Cheetahs: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Chris Massyn, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Aidon Davis, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Chris Smit
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffkin (Ireland), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)
Scarlets v Edinburgh
(Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli – Kick-off: 15:00; 15.00 GMT)
There will be plenty at stake when the top two sides in Conference B meet in Wales as Scarlets attempt to usurp Edinburgh at the summit. The hosts are three points adrift of Edinburgh and enjoy a formidable home record.
However, their most recent home loss came at the hands of Saturday’s opposition when Edinburgh claimed a 20-12 victory last April.
Scarlets will look to Josh Macleod, who has a Championship high 14 turnovers this term, to lead their defensive effort while Duhan van der Merwe will hope to add to his 18 clean breaks for Edinburgh.
Scarlets: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Corey Baldwin, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Dom Booth. 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Ryan Conbeer
Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 WP Nel, 2 David Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 John Barclay, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 George Taylor
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Clashes don’t get much bigger than this 🤯
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) February 12, 2020
Ospreys v Ulster
(Liberty Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 17:15; 17.15 GMT)
In what looks to be an intriguing match-up, bottom Conference A club Ospreys meet second place Ulster. The home side haven’t won a game since a 24-20 defeat of Benetton in October, which is their only victory all season.
Ulster’s only defeat to Ospreys since December 2014 was 10-24 at Liberty Stadium in April 2017, and they will be confident of adding to Welsh woes with a win which will keep them clear of the chasing pack in second.
The pairs’ last meeting ended in a resounding 38-14 victory for Ulster and Ospreys will look for fast improvements on a defence that has thus far leaked 281 points.
Ospreys: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Kieran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Luke Price, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Olly Cracknell, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Simon Gardiner, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 23 James Hook
Ulster: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns, 9 David Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Adam McBurney, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 David O’Connor, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Craig Gilroy
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Connacht v Cardiff Blues
(The Sportsground, Galway – Kick-off: 19:35; 19.35 GMT)
A battle between fourth and fifth in Conference B will see Cardiff Blues attempt to become the first Welsh side since 2017 to taste victory at the Sportsground. Repeating their success of three years ago would be enough to take Blues above their rivals in the Conference B table.
A run of patchy form has seen Connacht take 10 points from their last five games whereas Cardiff Blues have taken 18 from the corresponding fixtures, John Mulvihill’s men will feel they can get the better of their rivals on Saturday.
Blues suffered a narrow defeat to Scarlets last time out but had previously won three games on the spin in the Pro14.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Paul Boyle, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Tom Daly
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Garyn Smith, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Will Boyde, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Ratti, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Ryan Edwards
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher, Dan Carson (both Ireland)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)
Dragons v Benetton
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 19:45; 19.45 GMT; 21.45 Italy time)
The hosts come into the game with history against them after a run of just one win in their last seven meetings with Italian side Benetton. However, strong home form this term – they have lost just twice in all competitions at Rodney Parade – gives Dean Ryan’s men plenty of reason to be positive.
Benetton have the better form of the two sides and have claimed 16 points from their last five outings to move to within a point of fifth in the Conference B table.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gareth Newman (Wales), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Colin Stanley (Ireland)