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Preview: Pro12, Round One

Thu, 05 Sep 2013 17:43
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We look at all the Round One matches!
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The Pro12 season kicks off with both the reigning champions, Leinster, and runners-up, Ulster, in action in Wales on Friday night.  

The champions are not known as fast starters, whereas Scarlets were joint top of the table after the first round last year, so they will be looking to make the most of their home advantage.
 
Newport Gwent Dragons were the only other team that took maximum points from their opening fixture last season, but they will find Ulster far tougher opposition than new boys Zebre were in 2012/13.
 
Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues complete the action on Friday night; whilst the Warriors did not make the most auspicious start to the season they did reach the play-offs  last year and know that every point counts if they are to better that performance this campaign.
 
The remaining three Round One games all take place on Saturday, in Italy and Ireland. In a repeat of last season's opening fixture, Ospreys travel to Italy to face Treviso, but they must be hoping for a better result than last year having lost that game 6-12 to their hosts.
 
The second Italian outfit, Zebre, face Irish province Connacht in Galway. The visitors are still looking for that elusive first ever win in the competition, but should be buoyed by the fact that the last two times the teams met there was less than seven points separating them.
 
The round wraps up on Saturday evening at Musgrave Park in Cork where Munster welcome Edinburgh and history seems to favour the hosts, who have only been defeated once in the opening weekend of the tournament since 2006.

We look at all the Round One matches!

Friday, September 6:


Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues
(Scotstoun Stadium - Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)

Glasgow Warriors have been beaten in Round One of the Pro12 for the past two seasons, but both encounters were played away from home. The Warriors finished off their last campaign with a run of seven straight victories in all competitions at their Scotstoun home. The Scotsmen have lost only one of their last seven matches against Welsh regions.

Cardiff Blues have begun the Pro12 season with defeat just once since 2005: a 21-22 reversal at home to Edinburgh in 2009. The Blues’ only victory in their last seven games of the 2012/13 season came at home to Zebre on April 13. The Warriors have won their last four encounters with the Blues, whilst the Welshmen have not triumphed on Glasgow soil since a trip to Firhill on February 11, 2011.

Teams:

Glasgow Warriors:
15 Peter Murchie, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Scott Wight, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Jerry Yanuyanutawa.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tyrone Holmes, 20 Jonny Gray, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Tommy Seymour.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees (captain), 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 James Down, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Graeme Marshall (Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

Newport Gwent Dragons v Ulster
(Rodney Parade - Kick-off: 19.15; 18.15 GMT)

Newport Gwent Dragons beat Zebre in Round One of the Pro12 last season - the only time they have begun a new campaign with maximum points. The Dragons won just one of their last six matches in 2012/13: a 30-24 win at home to Munster on April 19.

Ulster, who were the losing finalists in the Pro12 Final in May, have begun the new season with a victory in each of the past three campaigns. The Ulstermen’s only defeat to a Welsh region in their last 101 such meetings was 12-16 at home to Ospreys on February 8, 2013.

The men from Gwent have beaten Ulster just once since the opening round of the 2009/10 season: 22-9 at Rodney Parade on September 30, 2011.

Teams:

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Andrew Coombs (captain), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Dan Way, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Francisco Chaparro, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Kris Burton, 23 Ross Wardle.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Chris Farrell, 11 David McIlwaine, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Tom Court, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Sean Doyle, 21 Ian Porter, 22 James McKinney, 23 Darren Cave.

Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Neil Hennessy (Wales)

Scarlets v Leinster
(Parc y Scarlets - Kick-off: 19.05; 18.05 GMT)

Scarlets have been victorious in their Round One encounter in the Pro12 tournament four times in the past five seasons. The Welshmen’s six-game winning run in all competitions at Parc y Scarlets ended with their 17-41 defeat to Treviso in Round 22 last season. Scarlets’ only home reversal to an Irish province in the Pro12 since September 2011 was to Ulster last December.

Leinster begin the defence of the third Pro12 crown that they won in Dublin in May. Incredibly, the Leinstermen have only ever won their opening round game once before since the tournament went home and away in 2003/04: in 2007 when they beat Edinburgh at the RDS. Leinster have won 12 of their last 13 Pro12 fixtures and have been successful on both their previous visits to Wales in 2013. Scarlets’ solo victory over Leinster in any competition since September 2009 was in this equivalent Round One match last season.

Teams:

Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Jo Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Craig Price, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Jordan Williams.

Leinster: 15 Dave Kearney, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings (captain), 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Tom Denton, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Brendan Macken.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Jon Mason (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)

Saturday, September 7:

Treviso v Ospreys
(Stadio Monigo - Kick-off: 19.30; 17.30 GMT)

Treviso begin the season at home for the fourth successive year and must be hoping to repeat 2012/13 when they beat Ospreys 12-6 at Stadio Monigo. Treviso have lost just one of their last seven Pro12 encounters and have won their last five home games against Welsh regions in all competitions.

Ospreys finished off last season with a pair of defeats to Glasgow and Leinster, whilst their only previous loss to an Italian side in the Pro12 came in this equivalent fixture last campaign.
The two teams met on four occasions last year, including twice in the European Cup, with all four encounters being won by the home side on the day.

Teams:

Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Alberto De Marchi, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Giovanni Maistri, 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Dean Budd, 20 Christian Loamanu, 21 Simone Favaro, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Tobias Botes.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Ben John, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tom Smith, 5 James King, 4 Ryan Jones (captain), 3 Joe Rees, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Ian Evans, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Grabham, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Jeff Hassler.


Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy), Stefano Traversi (Italy)
TMO: Claudio Damasco (Italy)

Connacht v Zebre
(Sportsground - Kick-off: 17.00; 16.00 GMT)

Connacht tripped up in Round One of the Pro12 last season with their 9-13 home defeat to Cardiff Blues. The Irishmen won just one of their last five fixtures of last season: 32-24 over Edinburgh at Murrayfield in Round 20. Connacht have not been defeated by an Italian side since they visited Aironi on January, 7 2012.

Zebre failed to win a game last season with the new Italian franchise struggling to cope with the intensity of the Pro12. However, they have recruited well and should pose a much stiffer threat this season.

The two sides met on four occasions last season including twice in the European Cup, with Connacht running out victors on all four occasions, although the winning margin in the two most recent encounters was just five and four points respectively.

Teams:

Connacht:
TBC

Zebre: TBC

Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)
Assistant referees: Eddy Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Dave O'Flynn (Ireland)
TMO: Michael Carroll (Ireland)

Munster v Edinburgh
(Musgrave Park - Kick-off: 18.30; 16.30 GMT)

Munster’s only defeat on the opening weekend of the Pro12 since 2006 was at the hands of Glasgow Warriors in 2009. The Munstermen won just two of their four home games played at Musgrave Park last season, but one of those was at least against this week’s opponents Edinburgh. No Scottish side have won on Munster home turf since Glasgow visited Cork in May 2008.

Edinburgh Rugby have managed only one victory in their last seven round one fixtures: 22-21 over Cardiff Blues at the City Stadium in 2009. The Scotsmen’s solo win away from home since last December remains 9-7 at Zebre on 29 March. Edinburgh have won just one game in their last 18 visits to Ireland since 2009: 24-23 at Connacht last December.

Munster have won their last five encounters with Edinburgh in all competitions, whilst the Scotsmen’s most recent triumph in Munster was at Thomond Park in October 2006 - their only previous win at Musgrave Park being way back in April 2004.

Teams:

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Ronan O'Mahony, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan (captain), 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donncha O'Callaghan, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Cian Bohane.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox (captain), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Geoff Cross, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

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