Thu 11 Mar 2021 | 03:34

Pro14, Round 15 - Teams and Predictions

Pro14, Round 15 - Teams and Predictions
Thu 11 Mar 2021 | 03:34
Pro14, Round 15 - Teams and Predictions
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PREVIEW: With this season’s two finalists already determined in PRO14, attention will now turn to the Champions Cup qualification, with a host of games set to determine the entries into next season’s European competitions.

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Leinster and Munster are sitting pretty knowing their places in the final are already booked but for a number of other sides – including Munster’s opponents in round 15 – Scarlets, there is still a way to go before European qualification is guaranteed.

Scarlets are in a three-way fight for two places in Conference B with Munster secured at the top and Benetton at the bottom. Connacht will secure second spot if they can beat Edinburgh this weekend but Scarlets will need to keep up the pressure as Edinburgh have two games in hand and are 14 points behind the Welsh side.

Cardiff Blues will be hoping for a Munster win as they head to Benetton to try and make up some ground on their eight point deficit from Glenn Delaney’s side.

The Munster-Scarlets game will be the pick of the weekend with Delaney hoping for a drop in intensity from the Irish side to capitalise on.

*Article continues below…

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“We went there for the last game we played before we shut up shop for a spell last year. It will be a big challenge, we played them in the first game of the season and didn’t manage the last 15 minutes well enough after putting ourselves in a really good position,” Delaney said this week.

“They have evolved, they are in the final already and they will be excited by that, but we are certainly excited by the opportunity to keep building a bit of momentum and keep playing the way we are.

“We will go out there knowing it is a massive challenge playing at Thomond. We had the winning formula on the road last time out against Edinburgh and it is about discovering that again.

“Munster are a side who can be really attritional, they also have a very good tactical kicking but you can’t be seduced by that, they can also play with width as well. They are a side who are all about getting the job done, a powerful unit with some great carriers like Gavin Coombes who has been outstanding all year, Jack O’Donoghue as well. There are guys who we are going to have to keep an eye on.

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“For us, it is about taking steps forward, we still need points to secure Europe, that hasn’t changed from a few weeks ago. Our objective is to secure our position in the Champions Cup for next year,”

Scarlets are eyeing a third straight win after victories over Benetton and Edinburgh which have left them on the brink of Champions Cup qualification. They were narrowly beaten 30-27 when the teams last met in October despite Munster scoring all three tries in the game.

Connacht, meanwhile, will need to pick up the pieces after their hopes of the final disintegrated with their defeat at the hands of Munster last weekend and while they have an eight-point advantage over Scarlets with two rounds left, they will want to secure their spot with s solid win.

Edinburgh’s three-game winning run against Connacht came to an end five months ago in a 26-37 defeat and they go into Saturday’s clash having won just one of their last four matches. Last week’s clash with Benetton was postponed after a positive coronavirus test in the Benetton camp.

Friday’s other games see defending champions Leinster travel to Zebre on a high after securing their final spot while Ospreys head to Glasgow Warriors knowing a victory will secure third place in Conference A and a Champions Cup place.

The Welsh side are 10 points clear of their hosts having played a game more and will be keen to get the job done ahead of a daunting trip to Leinster in Round 16.

Dragons host Ulster in the only other fixture in round 15.

We take a closer look at all the matches in Round 15!

Friday, February 13

Zebre v Leinster
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 18.45; 17.45 UK; 17.45 GMT)

Leinster will head to Italy in high spirits after securing their place in the Guinness PRO14 final with two games to spare.

Last week’s 38-19 bonus-point victory over nearest challengers Ulster ensured they cannot be caught at the top of Conference A.

Zebre were beaten 31-20 by Glasgow Warriors and face a tough test in their final home match of the campaign as they look to climb off the bottom of the table.

History is not on their side, though, with Leinster having won all 14 previous meetings and unbeaten in Italy since 2010.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Leinster by 20 points

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Gabriele Di Giulio, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Jamie Elliott, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Potu Junior Leavasa, 6 Iacopo Bianchi, 5 Ian Nagle (captain), 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio
Replacements: 16 Niccolò Taddia, 17 Alexandru Tarus, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Samuel Ortis, 20 Leonard Krumov, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Lorenzo Masselli

Leinster: 15 Max O’Reilly, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Jimmy O’Brien, 12 Rory O’Loughlin, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Alex Soroka, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Jack Dunne, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Marcus Hanan, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Seán O’Brien, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Tim Corkery, 23 Jamie Osborne

Referee: Marius Mitrea
Assistant Referees: Manuel Bottino, Riccardo Angelucci
TMO: Stefano Roscini

Glasgow Warriors v Ospreys
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)

Ospreys go to Scotland knowing a victory will secure third place in Conference A and a Champions Cup place.

The Welsh side are 10 points clear of their hosts having played a game more and will be keen to get the job done ahead of a daunting trip to Leinster in Round 16.

They have suffered back-to-back defeats against Ulster and the Dragons but October’s 23-15 victory in the reverse fixture will give them hope of getting back to winning ways.

The Warriors returned to fourth in the table last weekend thanks to a hard-fought 31-20 win at Zebre.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by 5 points

Teams: 

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ollie Smith, 14 Rufus McLean, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Robbie Fergusson, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Ryan Wilson (captain), 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 James Scott, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Grant Stewart, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Kiran McDonald, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ratu Tagive

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

Referee: Sam Grove-White
Assistant Referees: Fin Brown, David Sutherland
TMO: Ben Blain

Munster v Scarlets
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)

Munster reached the PRO14 final last weekend and Scarlets will hope to take advantage of any drop in intensity from the Conference B winners.

Munster have an unassailable 12-point lead at the top after Joey Carbery came off the bench to kick the match-winning 68th-minute penalty in a 20-17 victory over Connacht last Friday.

Scarlets are eyeing a third straight win after victories over Benetton and Edinburgh which have left them on the brink of Champions Cup qualification.

They were narrowly beaten 27-30 when the teams last met in October despite Munster scoring all three tries in the game.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by five points

Teams:

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Jack O’Sullivan, 6 Fineen Wycherley, 5 Billy Holland (c), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 John Ryan, 19 Thomas Ahern, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Darren Sweetnam

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

Referee: Seán Gallagher
Assistant Referees: Robert O’Sullivan, Peter Martin
TMO: Brian MacNeice

Saturday, March 13

Connacht v Edinburgh
(The Sportsground, Galway – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Connacht’s hopes of reaching the  PRO14 final evaporated last weekend with a 17-20 defeat by Conference B leaders Munster in a physical interprovincial clash at Thomond Park.

That ended a three-match winning run in the PRO14 for the Westerners, who are eight points clear of Scarlets with two games remaining.

Edinburgh’s three-game winning run against Connacht came to an end five months ago in a 26-37 defeat and they go into Saturday’s clash having won just one of their last four matches.

Last week’s clash with Benetton was postponed after a positive coronavirus test in the Benetton camp.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Edinburgh by seven points

Teams: TBC

Referee: Chris Busby
Assistant Referees: Eoghan Cross, Stuart Gaffikin
TMO: Olly Hodges

Dragons v Ulster
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Ulster saw their bid to reach the PRO14 final come to an end with Saturday’s incident-packed 38-19 defeat by Leinster.

Despite their loss at Kingspan Stadium, Ulster head to Wales in good heart having lost just once in their last eight PRO14 games on the road and they are unbeaten in their last nine fixtures against the Welshmen.

Dragons, meanwhile, halted a six-match losing run last Saturday with a 31-20 victory against Ospreys and are looking to beat an Irish province for the first time since a win against Connacht three and a half years ago.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Ulster by 10 points

Teams: TBC

Referee: Adam Jones
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Dan Jones
TMO: Ian Davies

Sunday, March 14

Benetton v Cardiff Blues
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK; 13.00 GMT)

Blues will be hoping to avoid a third successive defeat when they travel to Treviso following losses to Irish provinces Connacht and Munster in recent weeks.

Cardiff have won their last seven fixtures against Italian opposition in all competitions though, and they are on a three-match winning run against Benetton, whose last victory against the Welsh side came two and a half years ago.

 Benetton have lost all 12 matches in this season’s PRO14 and a positive Covid-19 test within their ranks meant last weekend’s scheduled game against Edinburgh had to be postponed.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Cardiff Blues by 12 points

Teams: TBC

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi
Assistant Referees: Federico Vedovelli, Filippo Russo
TMO: Marius Mitrea

@Pro14Official 

PV: 32
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Pro14, Round 15 - Teams and Predictions | Rugby365