Preview: Pro12, Round Four
Glasgow Warriors will want to keep their flawless record intact when they face Zebre in Parma on Friday evening.
As the Pro12 enters Round Four, Glasgow Warriors - the last remaining team with a 100 percent winning record - are in action in Parma on Friday night when they face Zebre.
Having waited so long for their first win in the competition, the Italian outfit will have their work cut out to make it back-to-back victories as table-topping Warriors have already defeated champions Leinster and last season’s runners up Ulster so far this season.
Scotland's capital team, Edinburgh, are also in action on Friday night, welcoming Scarlets to Murrayfield. Neither team have made the start to the season they would have wished for; both will be searching for their second victory of the campaign and only one side can be successful.
There are two games in Ireland on Friday night, Leinster hosting Cardiff Blues and Ulster facing Treviso. Leinster succumbed to the early season leaders, Glasgow Warriors, at Scotstoun last weekend, but their record in Dublin is formidable. Cardiff Blues will be breaking new ground if they come back from the RDS with a win.
Ulster saw their impressive home winning run bought to an end by Glasgow last time out, and victory over Treviso will help to reinforce Ravenhill’s reputation as a formidable place play and come away with the points.
The two remaining Irish provinces are both in action on Saturday evening, and both against Welsh opposition. First up, Connacht welcome Ospreys to the Sportsground in Galway.
Ospreys have recorded the only draw of the season so far when they were held 29-all by Leinster at the RDS in Round Two, and are the only other unbeaten team so far in this campaign.
The round wraps up in Cork where Munster face Newport Gwent Dragons. This game sees third on the table host fourth, Munster sitting higher than Dragons courtesy of securing more try bonus points than their opponents.
We look at all the Round Four matches!
Friday, September 27:
Edinburgh v Scarlets
(Murrayfield - Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
Edinburgh's last five matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst their only defeat at Murrayfield since February was 24-32 to Connacht in April.
Scarlets only win in their last five Pro12 encounters was 26-10 at home to Treviso in Round Two. The Welshmen have won their last four encounters against Scottish opponents.
Edinburgh have beaten Scarlets just once in their last six fixtures since 2010: 26-23 at Murrayfield in March 2012. Welsh regions have been victorious on three of their last four visits to Murrayfield.
Edinburgh: 15 Greg Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga,11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 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 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Joaquin Dominguez, 23 Michael Tait.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Nick Reynolds, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 John Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 George Earle, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Allan (Scotland), Adrian Graves (Scotland)
Leinster v Cardiff Blues
(Royal Dublin Society - Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)
Leinster's 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions came to a halt in Glasgow last Friday.
The Leinstermen's solo defeat at the RDS in their last 17 encounters since the 2012 Final was at the hands of Ulster in March.
Cardiff Blues’ only win in their last five Pro12 fixtures was 21-10 at home to Connacht in Round Two. The Blues’ most recent win on the road in the tournament was by a single point against Edinburgh at Murrayfield in February. The Blues won two of their four away games against the Irish provinces last season.
Cardiff Blues have beaten Leinster just once in their last 13 meetings in all competitions since May 2007: 11-3 at Cardiff City Stadium in February 2011. The Welshmen have never won in seven previous visits to the RDS.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Brendan Macken.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees (captain), 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Cory Allen.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Barrie O'Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
Ulster v Treviso
(Ravenhill - Kick-off: 19.05; 18.05 GMT)
Ulster's three-game losing streak in the Pro12 ended with their 18-7 victory against Connacht in Galway last Saturday.
The Ulstermen were defeated in their last game at Ravenhill, 12-13 by Glasgow, and have not lost successive games at the historic venue since April 2010. In 20 previous encounters with Italian opposition in all competitions, Ulster have lost only once: 12-23 at home to Treviso in October 2011.
Treviso opened their winning account for the 2013/14 season with their 29-19 victory at home to Munster on Friday. The Italians have won just one of their last eight away games: 41-17 at the Scarlets in May.
The three previous clashes between the two sides at Ravenhill have been evenly split, one win apiece plus a draw.
Ulster: 15 Craig Gilroy, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 D Tuohy, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 James McKinney, 23 Darren Cave.
Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Christian Loamanu, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Alberto De Marchi, 2 Enrico Ceccato, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Giovanni Maistri, 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 18 Pedro Di Santo, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Robert Barbieri, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Alberto Di Bernardo.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Brian Macneice (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Zebre v Glasgow Warriors
(Stadio XXV Aprile - Kick-off: 19.30; 18.30 UK & Ireland; 17.30 GMT)
Zebre's historic victory in Cardiff last Friday ended a 12-month wait for their maiden win for the new franchise, they will now wish to try and break their home duck in Parma.
Glasgow Warriors top the Pro12 standings and are the only side remaining with a 100 percent winning record this season. The Warriors have not conceded a try since Jamie Heaslip scored against them in last season's play-off, some 293 minutes ago. Glasgow have won their last seven games against Italian opponents.
The two previous meetings between the sides have both been taken by the Scotsmen, with Zebre earning a losing bonus point when they visited Scotstoun last September.
Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 David Odiete, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (captain), 4 George Biagi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Carlo Fazzari, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Tommaso Ioannone, 23 Giovanbattista Venditti.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Gabriel Ascarte, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 James Eddie, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Robert Harley, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Moray Low, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Richie Vernon, 22 Niko Matawalu, 23 Scott Wight.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Fabrizio Bertelli (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Saturday, September 28:
Connacht v Ospreys
(Sportsground - Kick-off: 17.00; 16.00 GMT)
Connacht's only victory in their last half a dozen Pro12 games was 25-16 at home to Zebre in Round One. The Irishmen have won their last two home games against Welsh regions.
Ospreys are one of only two undefeated sides in the Pro12 after three rounds. The Welshmen have not beaten an Irish province in their last four fixtures, a sequence which includes two draws, with all games being played away from home.
Connacht won this equivalent fixture in Galway last season, 22-10, their first victory over Ospreys since 2008.
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Craig Ronaldson, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Craig Clarke, 4 Michael Swift (captain), 3 Nathan White, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 James Rael, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Dan Parks, 23 Fionn Carr.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ben John, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Jonathan Spratt.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Dave O'Flynn (Ireland)
Munster v Newport Gwent Dragons
(Musgrave Park - Kick-off: 18.45; 17.45 GMT)
Munster's three-game winning run in the Pro12 came to an end last Friday in Treviso. The Munstermen have taken their last three encounters at Musgrave Park since Cardiff Blues won there in January.
Newport Gwent Dragons last six matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the men for Gwent's only Pro12 away victory since March 2012 was 14-13 at Zebre in February.
The Dragons have won their last two games against Irish provinces, but both games were played at Rodney Parade, you have to go back to September 2008 to find their most recent away victory over a province.
Each side won its respective home game when the two teams met last season, but Dragons’ only previous win on Munster soil came on their very first visit to Thomond Park in March 2004.
Munster: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Peter O'Mahony (capt), 5 Dave Foley, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Damien Varley, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Felix Jones.
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Ross Wardle, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Lewis Evans, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Andrew Coombs (captain), 3 Francisco Chaparro, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Dan Way, 19 Rob Sidoli, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Adam Hughes.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Gary Glennon (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)