Preview: Pro12, Round Two
Leinster and Munster will look to solidify themselves as early pace-setters in Round Two of the Pro12 this weekend.
Leinster and Munster will look to solidify themselves as early pace-setters in Round Two of the Pro12 this weekend.
These two teams were the only sides who collected maximum points from their first-round Pro12 games, between them running in ten of the 22 tries that were scored last weekend.
Munster will look to continue that form when they visit Italy on Friday night to take on Zebre, whilst Leinster will have home advantage on their side when they welcome Ospreys to the RDS the following day. With both sides winning their opening fixtures, one record is set to tumble in Dublin.
There are four games in all on Friday night; Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh and Ulster all at home along with Zebre, providing a game in each of the four Unions.
Having picked up a losing bonus point in Glasgow last weekend, Blues will want to go one better and claim the winning points against Connacht, who do not have the best of records in Cardiff but did win on their last trip to the Arms Park.
Edinburgh are one of three teams who did not collect a single point in the opening round, whilst their opposition, Newport Gwent Dragons, claimed an impressive victory overcoming last season’s finalists, Ulster, 15-8.
Dragons will be looking to add to that win, and have a good record against their opponents, losing only two of the last eight games between them.
Ulster will be looking to put last weekend’s loss in Llanelli behind them, and their impressive record at Ravenhill, where they lost just once in the competition last season, must surely count in their favour when they face Glasgow Warriors.
The round wraps up with the second game on Saturday, Scarlets welcoming Treviso to Parc y Scarlets. Having lost heavily to champions Leinster last weekend, Scarlets find themselves in the unusual position of propping up the table, but will see this fixture as a chance to get their campaign back on track.
We look at all the Round Two matches!
Friday, September 13:
Cardiff Blues v Connacht
(Arms Park - Kick-off: 19.05; 18.05 GMT)
Cardiff Blues gained a losing bonus point during their defeat in Glasgow last Friday night but have still only won one of their last eight Pro12 encounters. The Welshmen have not lost their opening two games in the tournament since season 2009/10.
Connacht beat Zebre 25-16 at the Sportsground in Round One and have been defeated just once on the road in their last four trips: 0-22 at Munster in March. Connacht have won three of their last four encounters with Welsh regions.
The Irishmen have beaten the Blues in just three of their 20 previous meetings in the tournament, but one of those was in this equivalent fixture at the Arms Park in February.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Andries Pretorius, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees (captain), 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Gavin Evans.
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Michael Swift (captain), 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Danie Poolman.
Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Martyn Lewis (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Edinburgh v Newport Gwent Dragons
(Rodney Parade - Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
Edinburgh began their 2013/14 Pro12 campaign with a 23-34 reversal against Munster in Cork. The Scotsmen have won two of their last three games at Murrayfield, but only had a won three lost five record against Welsh opponents last season.
Newport Gwent Dragons defeated last season’s Pro12 finalists, Ulster, at Rodney Parade last Friday and have never before started a season with back-to-back wins. The Dragons have slipped to three successive away defeats and have not beaten a Scottish opponent since last September.
The men from Gwent have won six of their last eight clashes with Edinburgh and have also been victorious on three of their last six visits to Murrayfield.
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Dougie Fife, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Dimitri Basilaia, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford (captain), 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Luitui, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Michael Tait, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Dan Way, 3 Adam Jones, 2 T.Rhys Thomas (captain), 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Francisco Chaparro, 19 Rob Sidoli, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Kris Burton, 23 Ross Wardle.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Stephen Ward (Scotland)
TMO: Andy Clift (Scotland)
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors
(Ravenhill Stadium - Kick-off: 19.05; 18.05 GMT)
Ulster have now lost their last two Pro12 matches but have not lost three in a row since the end of the 2011/12 season. The Ulstermen’s only home defeat in the tournament last season came when the Ospreys visited Ravenhill Stadium in early February. No Scottish side have won in Belfast since Glasgow were the visitors in December 2009.
Glasgow Warriors beat Cardiff Blues 22-15 at Scotstoun last Friday evening and are looking to begin their campaign with a pair of victories for the first time since 2009/10. The Warriors have won three of their last five fixtures with Irish provinces.
The two sides met on four occasions last season, twice in the Pro12 and twice in Europe with Glasgow’s only victory being 20-14 at Scotstoun in the Pro12 in February. The Warriors have been defeated on their last four visits to Ravenhill in all competitions.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 David McIlwaine, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ian Porter, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Doyle, 6 Roger Wilson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 James McKinney, 23 Darren Cave.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Mark Bennett, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Gordon Reid, 18. Moray Low, 19 James Eddie, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Richie Vernon, 22 Chris Cusiter, 23 Gabriel Ascarate.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Ken Beggs (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)
Zebre v Munster
(Stadio XXV Aprile - Kick-off: 19.30; 18.30pm UK & Ireland; 17.30 GMT)
Zebre’s barren spell in the Pro12 continued with their 16-25 loss to Connacht in Galway last Saturday.
Munster defeated Edinburgh 34-23 in Cork last Saturday, running in five tries as they aim to keep up their record of not losing a Round One or Two game in the Pro12 since season 2009/10. Munster defeated Zebre 27-25 on their only previous visit to Parma in Round 22 last season.
Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Gonzalo Garcria, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Marco Bortolami (captain), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Tommaso Iannone, 23 Dion Berryman.
Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Damian Varley (captain), 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Niall Ronan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 James Downey.
Referee: Andrew Mcmenemy (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Elia Rizzo (Italy), Francesco Russo (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Saturday, September 14:
Leinster v Ospreys
(Royal Dublin Society - Kick-off: 18.15; 17.15 GMT)
Leinster began the season with an impressive bonus point victory at Parc y Scarlets last Friday, recording a ninth successive victory in all competitions in the process. The Leinstermen’s only defeat in their last 10 encounters with Welsh regions was 10-19 at the Ospreys last November.
Ospreys opened their account with a 24-19 victory in Treviso last Saturday in what was their third successive away game in this competition. The Welshmen are winless on their last three visits to Ireland.
Leinster’s 37-19 victory over Ospreys at the RDS in Round 22 last season ended a four-game losing streak to the Welsh outfit.
Leinster: 15 Dave Kearney, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings (captain), 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Darren Hudson.
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 (captain), 5 James Kingm, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Joe Rees, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Grabham, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Jeff Hassler.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Michael Black (Ireland)
TMO: Brian Macneice (Ireland)
Scarlets v Treviso
(Parc y Scarlets - Kick-off: 18.30; 17.30 GMT)
Scarlets’ 19-42 home defeat to Leinster last Friday was their third loss in succession in the Pro12, including last year’s play-off. The Scarlets have never begun a Pro12 campaign with back-to-back defeats.
Treviso gained a losing bonus point from their 19-24 defeat to Ospreys at Stadio Monigo in Round One but have recorded just two victories in Wales in the history of this tournament: at Newport in 2012 and at Llanelli in May 2013.
Treviso have beaten the Scarlets on three of their last four encounters including a 41-17 victory at Parc y Scarlets in Round 22 last season.
Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Jordan Williams, 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 Deacon Manu, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Jonathan Davies, 23 Nick Reynolds
Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 John Maistri, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 18 Alberto De Marchi, 19 Dean Budd, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Christian Loamanu, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Mathew Berquist.
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy (Wales), Neil Perkins (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)