Preview: Pro12, Round Two

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 21:43
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Five teams will play their first home game of the season.

After their defeat to Ospreys, Zebre have remained in Wales to prepare for their visit to face Newport-Gwent Dragons in Rodney Parade on Friday.

Defending champions Connacht will be looking to bounce back from their opening-round defeat to Glasgow Warriors when they test the title credentials of Ospreys in Galway.

Glasgow Warriors will run out on their new artificial surface at Scotstoun fresh from their bonus-point win over Connacht by hosting four-time champions Leinster.

Gregor Townsend is looking to get his men back to the top of the tree after winning their inaugural Pro12 title in 2015, but the Irish province will be buoyed by the performance of debut flyhalf Joey Carberry, who scored two tries against Treviso in Round One.

Leinster have also just brought in former England coach Stuart Lancaster to their backroom team for this highly-anticipated encounter.

The opening round of the Pro12 saw an increase in crowds and tries.

It came as three of the championship's top contenders - Ospreys, Glasgow Warriors and Ulster - all posted bonus-point wins to kick off their campaigns.

In addition, Cardiff Blues' decision to strengthen their squad paid dividends with a bonus-point win over Edinburgh, which
means they have won 11 of the last 15 Pro12 games dating back to December 2015.

Former champions Leinster and Munster also won their Round One fixtures - as the 34 tries scored on the weekend eclipsed last season's figure of 29.

Top Performers in Round One - by Opta Statistics
Metres gained: Liam Williams (Scarlets) 166
Carries: Liam Williams (Scarlets) 20
Clean Breaks: Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 5
Defenders Beaten: Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby) 7
Tackles Made: Nic Cudd (Newport-Gwent Dragons) 20
Turnovers Won: Marco Barbini (Benetton Treviso) 3
Offloads: Reynold Lee-Lo 3

We look at the Round Two matches!

Friday, September  9

EDINBURGH v SCARLETS
(Murrayfield - Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)

Edinburgh have lost their last four Pro12 encounters including a 16-34 reversal in Cardiff last Saturday.

The Scotsmen have lost two of their last three encounters at Murrayfield, 23-28 to Connacht in March and 17-21 to Cardiff Blues in May.

Scarlets only victory in their last five Pro12 fixtures was 34-20 over Newport Gwent Dragons in "Judgement Day" at the Principality Stadium at the end of April.

Scarlets have never before started a Pro12 season with defeats in the first two rounds.

Edinburgh have lost only one of their last four encounters with Scarlets, and that by a single point, at Parc y Scarlets in February 2016.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Michael Allen, 13 Sasa Tofilau, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Solomoni Rasolea.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Aled Thomas.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Graeme Ormiston (Scotland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

MUNSTER v CARDIFF BLUES
(Irish Independent Park - 19.35; 18.35 GMT)

Referee Ian Davies becomes only the 12th Official, and 4th Welshman, to take charge of 50 Pro12 matches.

Munster have won their last three Pro12 matches and historically have always been strong starters having lost just once in the opening two rounds since 2009.

The Munstermen have won their last four home games at their two venues, but have been defeated just once at Irish Independent Park in their last fourteen matches: 17-21 to Ospreys in February.

Cardiff Blues solitary loss in their last seven Pro12 fixtures was 27-40 to Ospreys on "Judgement Day" at Principality Stadium in April.

Blues beat Edinburgh in Round One but have not won both opening encounters since season 2011/12.

The Welshmen's 37-28 victory at Cardiff Arms Park in round 12 last season ended a run of five successive Munster victories in this fixture.

Cardiff Blues are the only visiting side to have won on three separate occasions in Cork in the Pro12, in seasons 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2012/13.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Dave Foley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Cian Bohane, 23 Stephen Fitzgerald.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Corey Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11  Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 S Andrews, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Loyd Williams, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS V ZEBRE
(Rodney Parade - Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)

Newport Gwent Dragons have not been victorious in the Pro12 since they entertained Leinster at Rodney Parade on 29 January.

Dragons only home defeat to an Italian side since 2007 was 32-33 to Benetton Treviso in the Pro12 in April 2012.

Zebre's solitary victory in the Championship since 3 January was 47-22 over Dragons in Parma in Round 22 last season.

Zebre have scored no points by way of kicks away from home in the Pro12 since early January.

The last four matches between the two sides have all been won by the home team on the day, whilst Zebre's overall record at Rodney Parade is played four, lost four, scoring two tries and conceding 11.

The teams:

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Adam Warren, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 1 Thomas Davies.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 James Thomas, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Geraint Rhys Jones.

Zebre: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Lloyd Greeff, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Gabriele Di Giulio, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Maxime Mbandà, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Guillermo Roan, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Edoardo Padovani.

Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Cammy Rudkin (Scotland), Gareth John (Wales)

Saturday, September  10

BENETTON TREVISO v ULSTER
(Stadio Monigo - Kick-off: 18.05; 17.05 UK & Ireland time; 16.05 GMT)

Benetton Treviso have been victorious just once in the Pro12 since February: 22-21 at home to Connacht on 29 April.

Ulster remain as the only Irish province that Treviso have not beaten at home in the history of the Pro12.

Ulster have lost just one of their last six Pro12 encounters: 18-30 to Leinster in last season's semifinal.

Ulster beat Dragons 29-8 in round 1 and have not won both of their opening two fixtures in the Championship since 2012/13.

Ulster's only loss to Treviso in any tournament was 12-23 in Belfast in the Pro12 in October 2011, although the two sides did share a 29-all draw at the same venue in March 2013.

Teams:

Benetton Treviso: TBC

Ulster: TBC

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)

CONNACHT v OSPREYS
(Sportsground - Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)

Connacht were defeated in round 1 by Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground - the only previous Pro12 Champions to have begun their defence with a pair of defeats was Ospreys in both 2007/08 and 2012/13.

Connacht have not lost successive matches in Galway since the end of the 2014/15 season.

Ospreys have lost just one of their last five Pro12 fixtures: 26-46 at home to Ulster in Round 22 last season.

During the last campaign, Ospreys won just one of their eight encounters with Irish provinces: 21-17 against Munster in Cork.

Connacht achieved the season's double over Ospreys last year for the first time since 2003/04.

Ospreys overall record at the Sportsground is won eight, lost five.

Teams:

Connacht: TBC

Ospreys: TBC

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Claudio Blessano (Italy), Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)

GLASGOW WARRIORS v LEINSTER
(Scotstoun Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)

Glasgow Warriors achieved a bonus point victory at Connacht in round 1 and have only lost once in rounds one or two since 2012.

This is Warriors first Championship game at Scotstoun since the new 4G pitch was installed, a venue where they have only been defeated just once in a regular season Pro12 encounter since November 2013.

Leinster began the new season with a 20-8 victory at home to Treviso and have not started with a pair of victories in the opening two rounds since 2007/08.

The Leinstermen have lost their last three away games in the Pro12 but have not lost four in a row on their travels since 2010.

Each side won its respective home game when the two teams met last season, whilst Leinster's only previous victory at Scotstoun was 6-0 in November 2012.

Teams:

Glasgow Warriors: TBC

Leinster : TBC

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Dunx McClement (Scotland)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Source: @PRO12rugby

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 01 October 2016
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Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Munster v Zebre 16h00 Thomond Park
Ulster v Ospreys 17h30 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Leinster 18h35 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Treviso v Scarlets 19h05 Stadio Monigo
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Wasps v Harlequins 13h30 Ricoh Arena
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons 14h00 Sixways
Fri, 07 October 2016
Edinburgh v Treviso 18h35 BT Murrayfield
Connacht v Ulster 18h35 Sportsground
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues 18h35 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Sale Sharks 18h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 08 October 2016
Leinster v Munster 13h05 Aviva Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 14h00 Welford Road
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester 14h00 Sandy Park
Harlequins v Northampton Saints 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Newcastle Falcons v Bristol 14h00 Kingston Park
PRO12
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Ulster 4 4 0 0 17
Cardiff Blues 4 4 0 0 17
Glasgow Warriors 5 3 0 2 16
Ospreys 4 3 0 1 15
Leinster 4 3 0 1 14
Munster 4 3 0 1 14
Dragons 5 1 0 4 5
Connacht 4 1 0 3 5
Scarlets 4 1 0 3 4
Edinburgh 5 1 0 4 4
Treviso 4 1 0 3 4
Zebre 3 0 0 3 2