Thu 25 Feb 2021 | 04:57

Pro14, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions

Pro14, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions
Thu 25 Feb 2021 | 04:57
Pro14, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions
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PREVIEW: You could almost hear the sigh of relief in the Belfast headquarters of Ulster this week when the news was broken that the Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee’s injury was not as bad as expected.

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After all, Coetzee has a history of serious injuries and the South African is a massive part of the team’s success under coach Dan McFarland as they continue their chase after Leinster in Conference A of Pro14 this weekend.

Coetzee will leave the club at the end of the season to join the Bulls in South Africa, and there were fears he may have played his last game for Ulster, but the loose forward’s thigh injury was diagnosed as not being that serious and he could be back for the Irish club shortly.

Ulster head to Ospreys on Friday needing a comprehensive victory to keep up the pressure on defending champions Leinster, who head to Glasgow on Sunday to face the Warriors.

Now five points behind Leinster, McFarland’s side need to keep on winning while the non-Irish sides continue to fight for Champions’ Cup places in Pro14 action.

Coetzee was one of the try-scorers in the last outing in October as Ulster won away from home and they will need to repeat that victory if they are to continue to chase Leinster down.

The Ospreys are, however, unbeaten this year following wins against Cardiff, Dragons, Connacht and Zebre.

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Johann van Graan’s Munster side look unstoppable in Conference B but face a tough trip to Cardiff to face the Blues on Friday.

It will be the first time that the Blues are back at Cardiff Arms Park in 12 months but face a tough Munster side that have won the last three clashes against them.

Munster have also not tasted defeat in Wales in three years and will be confident to continue this record this weekend.

Back-to-back victories over Welsh sides Dragons and Cardiff Blues this month have maintained Connacht’s stranglehold on second place in Conference B. The Irishmen are seven points clear of third-placed Scarlets and travel to Italy hoping to win a third successive match in the championship for the first time since November 2019.

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Edinburgh will be hoping to extend their record of wins against the Scarlets on Saturday after winning the last six games against the Welsh side. The Welshmen ended a three-match losing run with a comfortable 41-17 victory over Benetton last weekend to keep their European Champions Cup bid alive, but they cannot afford any slip-ups with Cardiff lurking just four points behind.

Other games this weekend see Benneton host Connacht on Friday, while Zebre host the Dragons on Saturday. Sunday sees Leinster’s quest to take a fourth title take another step against Glasgow Warriors.

We take a closer look at all the matches in Round 13!

Friday, February 26:

Benetton v Connacht
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 18.30; 17:30 UK; 17.30 GMT)

Back-to-back victories over Welsh sides Dragons and Cardiff Blues this month have maintained Connacht’s stranglehold on second place in Conference B. The Irishmen are seven points clear of third-placed Scarlets and travel to Italy hoping to win a third successive match in the championship for the first time since November 2019.

Connacht’s record against Italian teams is encouraging having won their last seven, with their last defeat coming against Zebre three years ago. Benetton have lost all 11 Pro14 games and their only win in any competition this season came at Stade Francais in Round One of the European Challenge Cup.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Connacht by nine points.

Teams:

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Riccardo Favretto, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 6 Davide Ruggeri, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Ivan Nemer, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Zac Nearchou, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Alberto Sgarbi, 22 Luca Petrozzi, 23 Ratuva Tavuyara.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Peter Sullivan, 13 Tom Daly, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Jarrad Butler (captain), 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Oisin Dowling, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Niall Murray, 20 Sean Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Jack Carty, 23 John Porch.

Referee: Marius Mitrea
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli, Filippo Russo
TMO: Stefano Pennè

Cardiff v Munster
(Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff – Kick-off: 20:00; 20.00 GMT)

The Blues are back at the Arms Park for the first time in 12 months and although they have lost just once in five appearances at their iconic venue, they will be up against it on Friday. Munster have won their last three encounters against Cardiff and have a handy 12-point lead over Connacht at the top of Conference B on the back of 10 wins from 12 games.

The Welshmen have beaten an Irish province just once in the last two years and their last encounter ended in a 17-32 defeat at Connacht where Rhys Carre scored his first try for Cardiff.

Munster have not tasted defeat in Wales in almost two years and their only loss away from home in any tournament since September came against Ulster at the start of the year, so they head to the Welsh capital full of confidence.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by eight points.

Teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Ben Thomas, 9 Jamie Hill, 8 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Theo Bevacqua, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 James Ratti, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Max Llewellyn.

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Rory Scannell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Jack O’Sullivan, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue (captain), 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Darren Sweetnam.

Referee: Adam Jones
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse, Dan Jones
TMO: Sean Brickell

Ulster v Ospreys
(Kingspan Stadium, Belfast – Kick-off: 20:00; 20.00 GMT)

Ulster’s hopes of finishing top of Conference A surely depend on them repeating their victory over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium back in October. Tries from Jason Stockdale, John Cooney and Marcell Coetzee secured a 24-12 win in Swansea as they avenged their 24-26 defeat against the same opposition 12 months ago.

Ulster have won their last five Championship matches at Kingspan Stadium, but they face an Ospreys team unbeaten this year following wins against Cardiff, Dragons, Connacht and Zebre.

They have also won their last four away games, so Ulster will need to be on their game if they are to keep pace with Munster.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Ulster by 15 points.

Teams:

Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Rob Lyttle, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Jordi Murphy (captain), 6 Greg Jones, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Matt Faddes, 23 Robert Baloucoune.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Olly Cracknell, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Gareth Evans, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Joe Hawkins, 23 Luke Price.

Referee: Seán Gallagher
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross, Paul Haycock
TMO: Brian MacNeice

Saturday, February 27:

Edinburgh v Scarlets
(Murrayfield, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 12:00; 12.00 GMT)

Edinburgh have won just twice at Murrayfield since the sport resumed in August but their record against Scarlets is outstanding, with six successive victories.

The Scots grabbed their first Pro14 win of the season in November when two penalties from Jaco van der Walt secured a 6-3 victory at Scarlets, who had lock Josh Helps sent off on the hour mark.

Despite Edinburgh’s dominance in the last three years, Glenn Delaney’s Scarlets are 11 points clear of their Scottish rivals who have two games in hand so there is all to play for at Murrayfield. The Welshmen ended a three-match losing run with a comfortable 41-17 victory over Benetton last weekend to keep their European Champions Cup bid alive, but they cannot afford any slip-ups with Cardiff lurking just four points behind.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Edinburgh by three points.

Teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 George Taylor, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nic Groom (co-captain), 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Ally Miller, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Magnus Bradbury, 3 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Pierre Schoeman (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Nathan Chamberlain, 23 Chris Dean.

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Morgan Jones, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Alex Jeffries, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Will Homer, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Paul Asquith.

Referee: Ben Blain
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White, Graeme Ormiston
TMO: Charles Samson

Zebre v Dragons
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 18.15; 17:15 UK; 17.15 GMT)

Zebre followed back-to-back victories over fellow Italian side Benetton at the start of the year with defeats against Edinburgh and Ospreys which has left them rooted to the bottom of Conference A, albeit just two and three points adrift of Dragons and Warriors respectively.

Victory for Michael Bradley’s side means they would leapfrog Dragons, and with the Warriors travelling to Leinster on Sunday they would move up to fourth for at least 24 hours.

Although the Welshmen have won on their last two visits to Italy, they share three wins apiece in the last six encounters with Zebre. Dragons have lost their last seven matches in all competitions although they pushed champions Leinster close last time out, so they will have hope of landing their first win since the start of December.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Dragons by two points.

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Michelangelo Biondelli, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Tommaso Boni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Gabriele Di Giulio, 10 Paolo Pescetto, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Potu Junior Leavasa, 6 Lorenzo Masselli, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Samuel Ortis, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Daniele Rimpelli.
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Jamie Elliott.

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Aneurin Owen, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Huw Taylor, 7 Ben Fry, 6 Harrison Keddie (captain), 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Ellis Shipp, 1 Greg Bateman.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Jamie Roberts.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino, Matteo Liperini
TMO: Stefano Roscini

Leinster v Glasgow Warriors
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off: 17:30; 17.30 GMT)

Leinster remain the hot favourites to win the title for a fourth successive season having won 11 of their 12 games, their only defeat coming against Connacht in Round 10. The Dubliners have also won their last four Pro14 clashes with Glasgow, who have triumphed just once in the competition since November, a thrilling 23-22 derby victory against Edinburgh.

That match saw Edinburgh scrumhalf Nic Groom mistake a horn from a passing train chugging behind Scotstoun’s North Stand for the half-time buzzer, an error which allowed Ross Thompson to kick a penalty and turn the tide in Glasgow’s favour. Whether Leinster will hit the buffers on Sunday is open to debate having won 32-19 at Scotstoun in November.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Leinster by 10 points.

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Ciarán Frawley, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Scott Penny, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Greg McGrath, 18 Thomas Clarkson, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Alex Soroka, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Jamie Osborne.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ollie Smith, 14 Rufus McLean, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Cole Forbes, 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 Grant Stewart, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Gregor Brown, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Ross Thompson, 23 Robbie Fergusson.

Referee: Frank Murphy
Assistant referees: Chris Busby, Robert O’Sullivan
TMO: Olly Hodges

PV: 14
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Pro14, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions | Rugby365