Things are building up at the top of the Magners League table with this weekend’s Round 20 games sure to have a big say on the ultimate destination of the title.
The Ospreys’ win at Stradey Park on Tuesday hoisted them into third spot and with a game in hand over Leinster, their meeting at the Liberty Stadium on Friday evening could be a pivotal point in the run-in.
The Ospreys have five straight league wins under their belt and have not suffered a Liberty Stadium defeat since Ulster lifted the title in South Wales last May. Leinster suffered a two point defeat on their last trip to Swansea – but have won their last four outings against the Welsh regions, including a 44-22 win over the Ospreys at Donnybrook in January.
Despite have played one more game than Leinster, and two more than the Ospreys and fourth-placed Cardiff Blues, Ulster will still harbour hopes of holding onto the title, however they have just one win in their last four league games and their grasp on the trophy seems to be slipping. Realistically they will need to get the better of Glasgow Warriors at Ravenhill to keep their hopes of becoming double champions alive. The Warriors may have lost only one of their last five matches but have never won at Ravenhill – and have lost to Ulster on their last three meetings.
Another defeat in Belfast for the Warriors would be good news for Edinburgh – who will be aiming to move above their Scottish rivals when they meet Llanelli Scarlets on Sunday. The Scarlets have been rocked in the last week by a Heineken Cup semi-final defeat and then the loss of their long standing home league record to the Ospreys, and Edinburgh may sense an upset on Sunday at Stradey, which would give them a season ‘double’ over the Scarlets and lift them above their hosts into a possible fifth place in the league.
Friday’s third game will see Cardiff Blues looking to advance their title aspirations when they travel to Border Reivers. This is the first of two crucial games in five days for the Blues – with the Dragons visiting the Arms Park on Tuesday. The Blues are undefeated in their last four league games and should they win both these encounters and the Ospreys beat Leinster, the Blues could be in pole position by Tuesday evening.
The round’s final game sees Newport Gwent Dragons travel to Musgrave Park to face Munster. Neither side can play a part in the title race but the Dragons are only eight points behind the Scarlets, with a game in hand and will be looking to end a three-match losing streak as they look to overhaul the Scarlets and finish as third-placed Welsh region.
Magners League Round 20 Fixtures
|Fri 27th Apr||19:10||Ospreys||v||Leinster||Liberty Stadium||BBCw/Setanta|
|Fri 27th Apr||19:30||Border Reivers||v||Cardiff Blues||Netherdale||Setanta|
|Fri 27th Apr||19:30||Ulster||v||Glasgow Warriors||Ravenhill|
|Sat 28th Apr||17:00||Munster||v||Dragons||Musgrave Park|
|Sun 29th Apr||16:10||Llanelli Scarlets||v||Edinburgh Rugby||Stradey Park||S4C|