Pro14, Round Four - teams and predictions
COVID-19 STRIKES AGAIN: The Pro14 returns for Round Four this weekend, but the dreaded COVID-19 has struck again.
The fixture between Connacht and Benetton has been postponed.
The game was due to take place on Sunday, in Galway.
However, Benetton will not be able to travel due to a small number of isolated positive cases of COVID-19.
Public health guidelines in Italy currently prevent the Benetton squad from resuming rugby activities and as a result the fixture cannot take place as planned.
Pro14 can also confirm that Scarlets, who Benetton played in Round Three, have returned negative results from their PCR testing this week.
Pro14 Rugby will examine potential dates in early 2021 to reschedule the game.
There are now just two matches on Sunday and three Monday.
A trio of Irish sides – Leinster, Munster and Ulster – are looking to maintain their unbeaten starts.
Zebre and Edinburgh are still in search of their first victories of 2020/21.
Round Three brought plenty of excitement and this weekend is set to be no different, with Glasgow Warriors the latest team to try and end Leinster’s winning streak, which now stands at 22 matches.
There are three cracking contests in store in Wales, with two of them at Rodney Parade – as the Dragons host Munster on Sunday, before Cardiff Blues welcome Ulster a day later.
At Parc y Scarlets, meanwhile, the hosts are looking to build on their first win of the season as they entertain Edinburgh.
We look at the Round Four matches!
Sunday, November 1
Dragons v Munster
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 14.00; 14.00 GMT)
Fresh from holding off Cardiff Blues on Monday, Johann van Graan’s Munster take on another Welsh outfit as they look to extend their winning start to the campaign.
The victory over Blues was Munster’s 12th in succession against Welsh regions and they also have fond recent memories of Rodney Parade, where they have won on four of their last five visits.
For Dragons, this is the latest tough assignment in a fixture list which has also handed them games against Leinster and Ulster in the opening weeks of the season.
Dean Ryan’s men have not beaten Munster since December 2015 and have scored just a solitary try in the last three meetings between the sides.
@rugby365com: Munster by 15 points
Dragons: 15 Josh Lewis, 14 Owen Jenkins, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Harrison Keddie, 6 Ben Fry, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Conor Maguire, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jack Dixon, 23 Dafydd Howells.
Munster: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Rory Scannell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Keynan Knox, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 Josh Wycherley.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Thomas Ahern, 20 Tommy O’Donnell, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Jack O’Sullivan.
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones, Aled Evans (both Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)
Scarlets v Edinburgh
(Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli – Kick-off: 18.45; 18.45 GMT)
Still trying to recapture the form which saw them top Conference B last season, Edinburgh has lost their opening three matches of 2020/21 – and have won just once in six matches since rugby restarted in August.
Another loss this weekend would equal their tally of defeats for the entirety of the last campaign but they can take heart from a strong recent record against Sunday’s hosts.
Edinburgh has won their last five matches against Scarlets, whose most recent win in this fixture came in September 2017, while Richard Cockerill’s men have also emerged victorious from their most recent three visits to Wales.
Scarlets got off the mark in Treviso last time out and will look to improve on a poor recent record against Scottish sides; they have won just one of their last seven meetings against Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh.
@rugby365com: Scarlets by five points
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tyler Morgan, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Morgan Jones, 4 Josh Helps, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Dom Booth, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jac Price, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Will Homer, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Tom Prydie.
Edinburgh: 15 Jack Blain, 14 George Taylor, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Jamie Farndale, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Nick Haining, 7 Ally Miller, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 WP Nel, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Nathan Chamberlain, 23 James Johnstone.
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens, Rhys Jones (both Wales)
TMO: Wayne Davies (Wales)
Monday, November 2
Cardiff Blues v Ulster
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 18.00; 18.00 GMT)
Cardiff Blues are still in the unfamiliar surroundings of Rodney Parade, but they have made themselves at home quickly.
John Mulvihill’s side beat Connacht in their last ‘home’ game and have won their last five matches in Newport.
Ulster is looking to spoil that run and extend their own unbeaten start, which currently stands at three matches after last weekend’s impressive 40-17 victory over Dragons.
The Belfast outfit is also bidding to win three successive away games for the first time since 2012 and have lost just one of their last five games against Blues.
@rugby365com: Ulster by eight points
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 James Ratti, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey (captain), 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Ben Murphy, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Jamie Hill, 22 James Tovey, 23 Garyn Smith.
Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Stewart Moore, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns (captain), 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Adam McBurney, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Ethan McIlroy.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones, Ben Breakspear (both Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)
Zebre v Ospreys
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 20.15; 19.15 UK time; 19.15 GMT)
Last weekend’s success against Glasgow Warriors took Ospreys to two wins from three games – as many victories as they managed throughout last season.
Toby Booth’s men now travel to Zebre looking to win back-to-back away games for the first time since April 2019, having picked up an impressive triumph at BT Murrayfield last time they took to the road.
They will fancy their chances of doing so against a Zebre side who were beaten 63-8 at Leinster in Round 3 and are the only side without a match point to their name after three games.
Zebre won 37-18 when Ospreys visited in April 2018, one of two occasions Ospreys have lost in Parma, and the hosts will hope to make it a hat-trick on Monday.
@rugby365com: Ospreys by 12 points
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Josh Renton, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Renato Giammarioli, 6 Lorenzo Masselli, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Samuele Ortis, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Olivero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Antoine Koffi, 21 Nicolo Casilio, 22 Paolo Pescetto, 23 Michaelangelo Biondelli.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 James King, 7 Dan Lydiate (captain), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Harri Morgan, 22 Cai Evans, 23 Callum Carson
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi, Riccardo Angelucci (both Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)
Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 20.15; 20.15 GMT)
The seemingly unstoppable Leinster train rumbles into Glasgow this weekend, with Leo Cullen’s men looking to record their 22nd successive Pro14 victory.
The reigning champions have not lost in the competition since April 2019 and have won their last three matches against Glasgow, including the 2018/19 final at Celtic Park.
But the Irish giants have not had it all their own way at Scotstoun in the past, winning two and losing five at the home of the Warriors.
Glasgow has several survivors from the 31-21 triumph in November 2017 and will hope to rekindle those memories in a mouthwatering clash that concludes Round 4.
@rugby365com: Leinster by 12 points
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Pete Horne, 9 George Horne, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Hamish Bain, 4 Rob Harley, 3 D’arcy Rae, 2 Grant Stewart, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Chris Fusaro, 20 Fotu Lokotui, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ratu Tagive.
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Tommy O’Brien, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 7 Scott Penny, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Tom Clarkson, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Dan Leavy.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown, Dunx McClement (both Ireland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)