Thu 13 May 2021 | 09:59

Rainbow Cup Pro14, Round Three - teams and predictions

Rainbow Cup Pro14, Round Three - teams and predictions
Thu 13 May 2021 | 09:59
Rainbow Cup Pro14, Round Three - teams and predictions
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WINNING STREAKS: Munster and Benetton will put their 100 percent records on the line this week.

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The Irish province and Italian challengers are the only two teams in the Pro14 section of the competition with unbeaten records after two matches, opening a three-point gap on their closest rivals the Dragons.

Munster host Connacht at Thomond Park on Friday, while Benetton is in derby mode again when they play at home to Zebre 24 hours later.

Johann van Graan’s Munster side has the unique chance of claiming an Irish treble.

After their morale-boosting win over Leinster in the opening round, Munster has grown in stature and their big win over Ulster last week has seen them become the standout team in the Rainbow Cup thus far.

Now if they can add Connacht to their list of scalps, it will give them some consolation after their Pro14 Final loss to Leinster and their quarterfinal exit against eventual European Cup finalists Toulouse.

Munster has lost just once in their last five matches on home soil – against Champions Cup opponents Toulouse – and can reflect on 32 victories from 38 Pro14 starts at Connacht’s expense.

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This week Van Graan praised his side’s defence as a key aspect in their victories.

“It’s nice to get a complete performance,” the South African said.

“We converted our opportunities. I thought our breakdown work was excellent on both sides of the ball. That’s a big part of our DNA and something that we will keep going back to. I thought some of our phase attacks and options were very, very good.

“The one thing that we shouldn’t miss, if you look at our last two games, is our defence.

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“We conceded three points against Leinster and 10 versus Ulster; against two sides that won 14 out of 16 matches in the league phase the same as ourselves, so we conceded 13 points in the last 160 minutes. There is a lot to be positive about.”

While Munster is looking at their unique treble, Pro14 champions Leinster will want to continue from last week’s 50-point demolition of Connacht to make up for their European exit as well.

Ulster has a three-game losing run to stop against the Pro14 champions.

Not only were Ulster’s hopes of reaching the Pro14 final thwarted by Leinster in Conference A, they now tackle Leinster striving to avoid suffering four successive defeats in all tournaments for the first time since January 2017.

The competition’s intensity is underlined by the fact that 10 of the 12 Pro14 sides have won at least one game, with only Zebre and Ulster yet to get off the mark.

* The Pro14 teams and predictions follow below the video …

Friday, May 14

Munster v Connacht
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off: 18.00; 17.00 GMT)

The form guide points to unbeaten Pro14 section leaders Munster making it three wins from three when Connacht arrive at Thomond Park.

They have lost just once in their last five matches on home soil – against Heineken Champions Cup opponents Toulouse – and can reflect on 32 victories from 38 Pro14 starts at Connacht’s expense.

Connacht launched their Rainbow Cup campaign with an impressive 26-24 victory over Ulster, but they have not won successive away games since February and gone more than three years since last beating Munster.

Connacht’s only win against Munster in Limerick since 1986 was an 18-12 triumph in November 2015.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by 21 points

The teams:

Munster: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Craig Casey, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Gavin Coombes, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Keith Earls.

Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Sammy Arnold, 13 Sean O’Brien, 12 Tom Daly (captain), 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Abraham Papali’i, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Ultan Dillane, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Eoghan Masterson, 20 Sean Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Peter Sullivan.

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Peter Martin (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

Leinster v Ulster
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off: 20.15; 19.15 GMT)

Ulster will have every incentive to end a three-game losing run when they tackle Pro14 champions Leinster in Dublin on Friday.

Not only were Ulster’s hopes of reaching the Pro14 final thwarted by Leinster in Conference A, they now tackle Leinster striving to avoid suffering four successive defeats in all tournaments for the first time since January 2017.

Leinster bounced back to winning ways with a 50-21 success against Connacht last time out and they have won their last five encounters against Friday’s opponents.

They will also be acutely aware Ulster can reflect on a solitary win – 22-18 in 2013 – from their last 18 visits to the RDS.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Leinster by 11 points

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 James Ryan, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 Rory O’Loughlin, 23 Tommy O’Brien.

Ulster: 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 David Shanahan, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Sam Carter, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 Brad Roberts, 17 Callum Reid, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Alan O’Connor, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Rob Lyttle.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland), Rob O’Sullivan (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Saturday, May 15

Scarlets v Cardiff Blues
(Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)

Welsh rivals the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues each have one win out of two from their opening Rainbow Cup fixtures.

Both teams arrive in their latest encounter on the back of victories, with Scarlets defeating the Ospreys 22-6 and Blues edging out the Dragons 17-16 last weekend.

While the Blues have won just one of their last four away fixtures, recent Pro14 form should put them in good heart for the trip to Llanelli.

Dai Young’s team were victorious in both matches they played against the Scarlets in this season’s Pro14, including a tense 13-10 success on their travels in January.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Scarlets by eight points

Teams

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Ed Kennedy, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Josh Helps, 3 Alex Jeffries, 2 Ryan Elias (captain), 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Iestyn Rees, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Joe Roberts.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Gwilym Bradley, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Harri Millard.

Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Elgan Williams (both Wales)
TMO: Wayne Davies (Scotland)

Benetton v Zebre
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 18.15; 16.15 GMT)

Benetton has hit the heights during the Rainbow Cup so far, winning their first two games to be level on points with northern leaders Munster.

Victory over fellow Italian side Zebre at Stadio Monigo on Saturday would mean Treviso winning three successive matches for the first time since early 2019.

In contrast to Benetton’s Rainbow Cup form, which has seen them collect nine points from a possible 10, Zebre have suffered six successive defeats since beating Pro14 opponents the Dragons.

Zebre, though, claimed an away win against Benetton in January, with the last six meetings between the teams being split at three wins each.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Benetton by 20 points’

Teams

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Filippo Alongi, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Irné Herbst, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Riccardo Favretto, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Ratuva Tavuyara.

Zebre: 15 Michelangelo Biondelli, 14 Alessandro Fusco, 13 Tommaso Boni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Lorenzo Masselli, 6 Iacopo Bianchi, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Alexandru Tarus, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Samuele Ortis, 20 Potu Junior Leavasa, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Maxime Mbandà.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli, Filippo Russo (both Italy)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

Edinburgh v Glasgow
(Murrayfield, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35)

Edinburgh has a quickfire chance to turn the tables when they host Glasgow at Murrayfield.

Glasgow will make the short journey buoyed by a 29-19 victory over their rivals last week and they have won three out of the last four fixtures against Edinburgh.

Glasgow has a solitary Murrayfield win since December 2017 and they have only won once away in the Pro14 since November while Edinburgh will be anxious to rediscover a consistent winning formula.

Richard Cockerill’s team have won one of their last five games and it is more than a year since they claimed successive victories on home soil.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Edinburgh by five points

Teams

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie (co-captain), 6 Mesu Kunavula, 5 Jamie Hodgson, 4 Marshall Sykes, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (co-captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Ally Miller, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jack Blain, 23 George Taylor.

Glasgow: 15 Adam Hastings, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Ratu Tagive, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Richie Gray, 4 Rob Harley, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 George Turner, 1 Tom Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Kiran McDonald, 20 Thomas Gordon, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Lee Jones.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Keith Allen, David Sutherland (both Scotland)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

Sunday, May 16

Dragons v Ospreys
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 13.00; 12.00 GMT)

The Dragons have hit form recently, winning four games since the start of March, while they currently sit just three points behind Rainbow Cup northern pace-setters Munster and Benetton.

It promises to be a tight and tense encounter at Rodney Parade this weekend, though, especially as the Ospreys will be fired up to bounce back from a 22-6 loss at Scarlets last time out.

The last seven meetings between Dragons and Ospreys have produced three wins each and one draw, which underlines how tough it is to call their encounters.

But Ospreys will head to Newport on the back of already winning there this season, courtesy of a 28-20 verdict in the Pro14.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Dragons by six points

Teams

Dragons: 15 Josh Lewis, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Aaron Wainwright (captain), 5 Ben Carter, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Greg Bateman.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Huw Taylor, 22 Dan Babos, 23 Ioan Davies.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Dewi Cross, 10 Luke Price, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Will Griffiths, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Joe Hawkins, 23 Max Nagy.

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans, Ben Breakspear (both Wales)
TMO: Rhys Thomas (Wales)

Source: @PRO14Official

PV: 11
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Rainbow Cup Pro14, Round Three - teams and predictions | Rugby365