Preview: Pro12, Round 14

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 20:01
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Nine rounds remain in the Pro12 championship and this period during the Six Nations will test the mettle of all the title contenders.

In addition, teams are jockeying to qualify for the European Champions Cup.

Munster lead Ospreys by a point at the top of the table while only six points separates third-placed Leinster from Scarlets in fifth position.

Pro12 leaders Munster play host to Newport-Gwent Dragons at Irish Independent Park where they have lost two of their last four fixtures to Welsh opposition.

However, Dragons arrive in Ireland searching for their first Pro12 away in 18 games.

Ulster are also aiming to reverse a poor trend of results which has seen them pick up just one win across all competitions in their last six games while visitors Edinburgh are looking to complete their first double over the province since the 2007/08 season.

Ospreys and Leinster both travel to Italy to take on Zebre and Benetton Treviso, respectively, where they will arrive boasting two of the best attacking records in the Championship. Ospreys' tally of 51 tries is the highest in the Pro12 while Leinster are second with 49.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues will host Connacht at Sport Cardiff Arms Park where the visitors really need a victory to push themselves into contention to qualify for the Champions Cup. Connacht have beaten Cardiff Blues already this season but have never completed a Pro12 double over the Capital region.

We look at all the Round 14 action!

Friday, February  10

ZEBRE v OSPREYS
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi - Kick-off: 20.00; 19.00 GMT; 19.00 UK time)

Zebre's only victory this season was 19-14 against Edinburgh at Murrayfield in Round Seven of the Pro12, whilst they have not been victorious in Parma since beating Dragons there on 7 May.

Ospreys only reversal in the last eight rounds of the Pro12 was 0-33 to Munster in Cork on 4 November.

Ospreys have not lost to an Italian side since facing Zebre at Parma in May 2014.

The two sides have met on nine previous occasions with Zebre's only victory being 30-27 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in round 21 of the 2013/14 campaign.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Lloys Greeff, 10 Serafin Bordoli, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Federico Ruzza, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (captain), 3 Guillermo Roan, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Bruno Postiglioni.
Replacements: 16 Adriano Daniele, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Bartholomeus Le Roux, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Davide Fragnito, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Faialaga Afamasaga, 23 Maicol Azzolini.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Ben John, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Dafydd Howells, 10 Luke Price, 9 Tom Habberfield (captain), 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Lloyd Ashley, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Daniel Suter, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Hanno Dirksen, 23 Jonathan Spratt.

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland, Stefano Bolzonella (Italy)

GLASGOW WARRIORS v SCARLETS
(Scotstoun - Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Glasgow Warriors only defeat in their last seven matches was 12-14 at home to Munster in the European Champions Cup on 14 January.

The Warriors most recent reversal in the Pro12 was also to Munster at Scotstoun on 2 December.

Scarlets have lost just one of their last ten Pro12 encounters: 9-19 to Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in Round 11.

The Welshmen have won once in visits to Scotland since 2013: 16-10 against Glasgow at Scotstoun in Round One last year.

Scarlets beat Glasgow 27-3 at Parc y Scarlets in round 8 and have not achieved a season's double over the Warriors since 2012/13.

Scarlets have visited Scotstoun on four previous occasions in the Pro12 with honours even at two wins and two losses.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Brian Alainu'uese, 3 D'Arcy Rae, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Alex Allan.
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Lewis Wynne, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Hagen Schulte, 23 Sean Lamont.

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (captain), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Tom Price, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Joshua Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Steff Hughes.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Kevin White (Scotland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

MUNSTER v NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
(Irish Independent Park - Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Munster have won their last seven matches in the Pro12 since their reversal to Leinster at Aviva Stadium on 8 October.

The Munstermen have lost two of their last four fixtures played in Cork, to Ospreys last February and to Cardiff Blues in September.

Newport Gwent Dragons 26-8 victory at home to Treviso in round 13 ended a three-game losing run in the Pro12.

The Welshmen have lost their last 18 away games in the Pro12 since beating Treviso at Stadio Monigo in March 2015.

Munster's only defeat to the Dragons in their last seven meetings was 6-22 at Rodney Parade in December 2015, whilst Dragons only previous victory on Munster soil came on their first ever visit to Thomond Park in March 2004.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal (captain), 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Dave Foley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Darren O'Shea, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Abrie Griesel, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Dan Goggin.

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Lewis Evans (captain), 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Sam Beard.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Keith Allen (Scotland). Stuart Douglas (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

ULSTER v EDINBURGH
(Kingspan Stadium - Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Ulster's only victory in their last six matches in all tournaments was 23-7 at home to Connacht in the Pro12 on 23 December.

Ulster have lost just once at Kingspan Stadium in the Pro12 since last February, and that was by a single point to Munster in Round Seven this season.

Edinburgh's single point defeat at home to Munster on Friday ended a three game winning run in all competitions.

The Scotsmen won their most recent away game in the Pro12 at Zebre on New Year's Eve, to end a run of seven straight defeats on the road in the tournament.

Edinburgh beat Ulster 28-17 at Murrayfield in round eight of the Pro12 and have only once before achieved a season's double over the Irish province – in 2007/08.

Edinburgh's most recent victory in Belfast was 16-13 in the Pro12 in September 2009.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Jacob Stockdale, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Chris Henry (captain), 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Alan O’Connor, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 John Andrew, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Callum Black, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Stuart McCloskey, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 John Hardie, 6 Viliame Mata, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Neil Cochrane (captain), 1 Jack Cosgrove.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Nick Beavon, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Rory Scholes.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales) Dermot Thomas (Ireland)
TMO: Paul Adams (Wales)

Sunday, February 12

BENETTON TREVISO v LEINSTER
(Stadio Monigo - Kick-off: 13.30; 12.30 Ireland time; 12.30 GMT)

Benetton Treviso's only victory in the last nine rounds of Pro12 play was 23-12 at home to Zebre on 23 December.

The Italians have not beaten an Irish province since Connacht visited Stadio Monigo in April 2016.

Leinster have lost just one of their last eight matches in all competitions: 17-29 away to Munster in the Pro12 on 26 December.

The Leinstermen have not lost on a visit to Italy since going down 13-29 in Treviso in September 2010.

The two sides have met on thirteen previous occasions in the Pro12 with Treviso's only win being on their first clash at Stadio Monigo in Round Three 2010/11, although the two sides did play out a 24-all draw in Italy in November 2014.

Teams:

Treviso: 15 David Odiete, 14 Andrea Pratichetti, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Dean Budd, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Filippo Gerosa, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Matteo Zanusso, 19 Francesco Minto, 20 Guglielmo Zanini, 21 Enrico Francescato, 22 Michael Tagicakibau, 23 Andrea Buondonno.

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss (captain), 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Peadar Timmins, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Barry Daly.

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Andrea Spadoni (Italy)

CARDIFF BLUES v CONNACHT
(Cardiff Arms Park - Kick-off: 13.05; 13.05 GMT)

Cardiff Blues have won only one of their last five Pro12 encounters: 27-16 at home to Newport Gwent Dragons on Boxing Day.

The Blues have won three of their last four matches at Sport Cardiff Arms Park in all tournaments since Ulster beat them there in the Pro12 on 3 December.

Connacht's only victory in their last five matches was 66-21 at home to Zebre in the European champions Cup on 4 January.

The Irishmen's only away victory in any tournament this season was 52-7 at Zebre in the champions Cup on 23 October.

Connacht won 18-7 when the two sides me at the Sportsground in round 9 and have never achieved a season's double over Cardiff Blues whilst the only time they have beaten Blues in Cardiff was 26-22 in February 2013.

Teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Rhun Williams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Nick Williams, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 James Down, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Tom James.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 JP Cooney, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 John Andress, 19 Naulia Dawai, 20 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Tom Farrell, 23 Danie Poolman.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Elia Rizzo (Italy), Aled Evans (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Source: @PRO12rugby

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MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 22 19 0 3 86
Leinster 22 18 0 4 85
Scarlets 22 17 0 5 77
Ospreys 22 14 0 8 69
Ulster 22 14 1 7 68
Glasgow Warriors 22 11 0 11 58
Cardiff Blues 22 11 1 10 53
Connacht 22 9 0 13 44
Edinburgh 22 6 0 16 31
Treviso 22 5 0 17 23
Dragons 22 4 0 18 23
Zebre 22 3 0 19 19