Guinness PRO14 – Round 5 Predictions
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Last week’s fixtures threw up some surprises with Leinster falling foul to the Toyota Cheetahs and Glasgow giving Munster a rude awakening, neither of which were predicted here. With success for both Italian outfits last week too, it left me with a poor return of 3 correct predictions from 7 although I did say that Treviso could cause an upset against the Ospreys and that they did. Here’s what’s in store this week.
Toyota Cheetahs v Ospreys
First up, the Cheetahs host the Ospreys after their impressive win against Leinster. As is often the foundation of a strong season, the Cheetahs boast an unbeaten record at home albeit only 2 from 2. With heavy defeats in the opening 2 rounds on Irish soil, they will be keen to keep their home record intact and continue to build their reputation on their new venture. They have scored 17 tries so far this season in contrast to the Ospreys 5 however they have missed twice as many tackles (97) as their Welsh counterparts (49). It has been an unusually slow start to the campaign for the welsh side and it is likely to continue with another difficult night in store.
Verdict: A high scoring game and another win for the Toyota Cheetahs.
Glasgow v Benetton Treviso
Hunger was the most apparent aspect of Glasgows victory over Munster on Friday night. They brought an intensity to the game which made Munster look extremely uncomfortable. That said, the 27 point margin of victory was unheralded and bare no reflection of where the two teams are currently at. Glasgow are a very good side and have been competitive for the last number of years however they have yet to reach the heights of previous seasons. They will be extremely confident following their Friday night rout and they will expect a similar result this week when they welcome Treviso but therein could potentially lay their problem. Expecting victory and craving it are two very different things. The big question is, can they maintain their intensity this week? They certainly upped their game for Munster given the recent history between the 2 teams but to be able to raise their game to that level for the Italians will be a challenge. Treviso have been on the up and rightfully deserved their victory over the Ospreys and Edinburgh in the last 2 rounds. They will travel with confidence and will expect to compete strongly in this one. If Glasgow become complacent, the Italians could have a sniff.
Verdict: Glasgow to win but not by the landslide that you’d expect
Leinster v Edinburgh
From start to finish, Leinsters trip to South Africa was nothing short of a disaster. Whether it was a case of being under prepared or unlucky is hard to say but their misfortunes were carried on to the field and they will be absolutely reeling after their first loss. Make no mistake about it, Leinster have got the best squad in the competition. Hands down. With a glut of talent at their disposal and plenty of cover to back it up the league should be their bread and butter. They will be glad to be back in the comforts of home this week and one would anticipate a backlash of sorts against Edinburgh. With familiar faces to come back into the fray soon, time is running out for
Verdict: Leinster BP win
Scarlets v Connacht
Not meaning to be blunt or dismissive about it but quite simply, this is a banker for the Scarlets. Connacht are just not firing like they were last season and this is not the fixture which would kick start a turnaround in their fortunes.
Verdict: Scarlets BP win
Munster v Cardiff Blues
Like Leinster, Munster will look to bounce back in similar fashion this week. They didn’t give a true representation of themselves on Friday night and will be keen to get back to winning ways. Cardiff, like Treviso are a team who have been making strides of late and they too will come into this game with designs of a victory. They are an exciting side to watch and love to play ball. Their victory in Connacht last week was really impressive given how much of a contrast it must be to go from their own 4G pitch to the naturally exposed sports ground where the weather conditions are always a huge factor. Cardiff will pose plenty of problems for Munster at home but provided Munster can sort out their place kicking duties, this should be a straight forward victory for the men in red, who welcome back their Lions this weekend.
Verdict: Munster to win
Zebre v Ulster
Having gotten themselves off the mark last week with their win over the Southern Kings, Zebre welcome Conference B leaders, Ulster to Parma. Along with Glasgow, Ulster remain unbeaten so far this season and they will most definitely carry that record to Round 6. This will be one way traffic.
Verdict: Ulster by a minimum of 30 points and another BP to cement their position at the top
Dragons v Kings
After their thumping in Ravenhill last week, the Dragons will look forward to welcoming the only team in the competition without a win thus far. The Kings have been disappointing and to be beaten at home by Zebre is a very worrying sign. This is another opportunity for the Dragons to put points on the board and continue to progress under the watchful eye of Jackman.
Verdict: Dragons to win