PREVIEW: Pro14, Round 13
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: As Conference A gets a little bit tighter, three teams look to be detaching themselves in Conference B heading into Round 13.
Glasgow Warriors’ win over the Dragons allowed them to leapfrog the Cheetahs, beaten in Ulster, as the race for the Final Series hots up.
Meanwhile, both Scarlets and Cardiff Blues finished strong to help their push in Conference B, although the Scarlets look better placed at this stage behind Edinburgh and Munster.
Round 13 sees a repeat of last year’s final and a couple of crucial clashes in the race for the top three in Conference B.
We take a closer look at all the matches in Round 13!
Friday, February 28:
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues
(Murrayfield, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)
Edinburgh’s win over Connacht may not have been as one-sided as the final scoreline suggested, but it reinforced their status as one of the strongest teams in the competition.
They welcome Cardiff Blues to Murrayfield where they are unbeaten this season. However, the Blues, who came from behind to see off Benetton last time out, were victorious in this fixture a year ago.
Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 James Johnstone, 12 George Taylor, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Fenton, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Sam Thomson, 20 John Barclay, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Chris Dean.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Ben Murphy, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Dan Fish.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Scotland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)
Leinster were given a scare for an hour away to the Ospreys before pulling clear of the Welsh side, and now welcome Glasgow Warriors to the RDS in a repeat of last season’s final.
That win over the Ospreys ensured Leinster have made the best-ever start to a season with 12 straight victories, not to mention a perfect record in Europe. Their last defeat at home came last season against the Warriors, who will be looking to build on some promising recent form.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Jimmy O’Brien, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 James Lowe, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Will Connors, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Fergus McFadden.
Glasgow: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Nick Grigg, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Pete Horne, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Rob Harley, 3 D’arcy Rae, 2 George Turner, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Mesu Dolokoto, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Ewan McQuillin, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Niko Matawalu.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ireland), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)
Saturday, February 29:
Munster v Scarlets
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off: 17:00; 17.00 GMT)
Munster left it late to secure a bonus point away to Zebre, but came away with maximum points to keep the pressure on Edinburgh at the top of Conference B.
The Scarlets are one place and three points behind them, and know that a win would consolidate their bid for a Final Series place. Their recent record away in Ireland has not been great, although they will take heart from their last win over there, beating Munster at Aviva Stadium in the 2017 Final.
Munster’s record at Thomond Park in the last three years has been excellent, with only Leinster victorious there.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack O’Sullivan, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 John Ryan, 19 Gavin Coombes, 20 John Hodnett, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Tommy O’Donnell
Scarlets: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Corey Baldwin, 13 Paul Asquith, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones 9, Jonathan Evans, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Werner Kruger (c), 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Ifa Phillips, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Steve Cummins, 21 Dan Davis, 22 Dane Blacker, 23 Ryan Conbeer
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Seán Gallagher (Ireland), Keith Allen (Scotland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Dragons v Cheetahs
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 17.15; 17.15 GMT; 19.15 SA time)
The Dragons and the Cheetahs both had their chances on the road, losing to Glasgow Warriors and Ulster respectively ahead of this meeting at Rodney Parade. That loss for the Cheetahs saw them drop out of the top three in Conference A, and leaves them with some catching up to do, albeit with a run of home fixtures to come.
They have won both of their previous meetings with the Dragons, including their sole trip to Rodney Parade. But under Dean Ryan, the Dragons have won their last four at the ground in all competitions.
Dragons: 15 Will Talbot-Davies, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Harrison Keddie, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Ellis Shipp, 1 Aaron Jarvis
Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Lewis Evans, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jacob Botica, 23 Joe Goodchild
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Craig Barry, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Boan Venter
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Sias Koen, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Chris Smit
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Stuart Gaffkin (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Sunday, March 1:
Southern Kings v Connacht
(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 UK & Ireland time; 13.00 GMT)
The Southern Kings looked like they might pull off another away win in Wales when they led at Parc y Scarlets in the second half before eventually going down to the Welsh side.
But after a couple of heavy losses, it was an improved showing from the South African side before they headed home. They now welcome Connacht to Port Elizabeth, with the Irish province looking to improve on a run of one win in their five in the Pro14. Andy Friend’s side have won all three previous meetings with the Kings however.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Chris Hollis, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Erich Cronje, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8, Elright Louw, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Lusanda Badiyana, 5 JC Astle (captain), 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Robin Stevens, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Tiaan Botes, 23 Josiah Twum-Boafo
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Paul Boyle, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Conor Kenny, 19 Eoghan Masterson, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Peter Robb
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Divan Uys (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Glorious @GlasgowWarriors 🙌
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) February 27, 2020