Guinness PRO 12 Preview Round 12
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The Dragons are on a fine run of form and welcome the Blues to Rodney Parade on the back of an impressive four game winning streak. They were the victors when these two meet last week in the reverse fixture. The Blues will be scathing after that lose to their local rivals and Director of Rugby Mark Hammett has acknowledged that they must get back to winning ways, immediately.
Cardiff will be buoyed by their late fight back at the BT Sports Cardiff Arms Park last week but it is hard to see passed the Dragons. Led by the boot of Tom Prydie, we think Newport will just edge it.
Prediction: Dragons by 4
Venue: Rodney Parade
Time: Thursday 2.05pm
Live on: BBC Wales
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell, Simon Rees (both WRU)
TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)
All logic points to a gritty affair in the now sold out clash between these two. Connacht have enjoyed a good run of form at home, unbeaten this season, but have failed to win their last two games against the other two Irish provinces. Munster had an assured performance against Leinster last week and with their Irish internationals returning to the fray Connacht will have it all to do.
Forecast is for light rain and moderate wind so that should play a part in the exposed Sportsground. Munster will have too much for the home team we feel. Connacht should be able to salvage a bonus point from this one.
Prediction: Munster by 6
Venue: The Sportsground
Time: Thursday 5pm
Live on: TG4
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, Brian MacNeice (both IRFU)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)
Glasgow proved to have too much for Edinburgh in Scostoun last Saturday. Gregor Townsend’s men performed will with Alastair Kellock like a man possessed who justifiably claimed the MoM award. It was noticeable however that the Warriors didn’t convert their superiority into points which will give Edinburgh a sense of hope.
Glasgow has the 1872 Cup within their grabs and we don’t think Edinburgh have enough to overturn a ten point deficit to claim it for the first time since 2009. Glasgow to use home advantage to put a greater margin between the teams this time round.
Prediction: Glasgow by 13
Venue: BT Murrayfield
Time: Friday 7.35pm
Live on: BBC2 Scotland
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White, Peter Allan (both SRU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)
To think that both these teams contested the Heineken Cup Final in 2012 seems a far cry away now for both sets of supporters. Both have underperformed this season with injury playing a considerable role and for Ulster, upheaval in the dugout and the loss of some of their key stars has really hurt.
Leinster will be delighted to return to the protective walls of the RDS. 19 competitive fixtures won in a row at the RDS Arena speak for itself. Ulster narrowly overcame a resilient Connacht a week ago but before that fell victim to the two Welsh sides, Ospreys and Scarlets, without a losing bonus point from either game. Both welcome back their Irish contingent, but with home advantage and the knife beginning to twist into the back of Matt O’Connor we think the players will do him a favour and show up this time.
Prediction: Leinster by 8
Venue: RDS Arena
Time: Saturday 2.40pm
Live on: Sky Sports and BBC NI
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell, Mark Connolly (both IRFU)
TMO: Jude Quinn (IRFU)
Northamptons thumping of Treviso in the Champions Cup Round 4 questioned the validity of having an Italian side in the competition. Treviso however did themselves justice last week against their Italian rivals with a deserved 26-16 win. Zebre have only won this fixture once in five meetings.
To think Treviso hadn’t won a game in the Pro 12 season until last week is remarkable. The reverse fixtures promises to be a close encounter with Zebre none too pleased after last weeks showing. We’re expecting a reaction from the visiting side, Zebre to edge it.
Prediction: Zebre by 3
Venue: Stadio Monigo
Time: Saturday 3pm (local time)
Live on: Nuvolari
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano, Stefano Penne (both FIR)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (FIR)
Ospreys enjoy a fine record at the Parc y Scarlets, winning five of there last six visits. It was no surprise to see the Scarlets lose at the Liberty Stadium last week. It is a venue they have failed to win at since 2007. Dan Lydiate marked his return to the Pro12 with a try and Rhys Webb was instrumental from scrum half. It was far from comfortable for the Ospreys however and with Scarlets enjoying home advantage this time round, they could just sneak it.
The Ospreys do sit top of the table on merit though with Llanelli languishing in 7th. We expect Ospreys to grind it out in a dogged affair.
Prediction: Ospreys by 4
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Time: Saturday 5.05pm
Live on: Sky Sports and S4C
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies, Marty Lewis (both WRU)
TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)