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Magners League: Round 13 Preview

Magners League: Round 13 Preview

With the halfway stage of the season passed, teams will now concentrate on their push for a top-four placing to secure a spot in the Magners League semi-finals.

Results over the festive period mean that Munster have pulled nine points clear at the top of the table, but there is a real scramble for the remaining play-off spots with just six points separating the next five teams. And of those five, Ulster and the Cardiff Blues both have a game in hand.

The pick of the action in round 13 must come at the RDS on Friday night when third-placed Leinster host the fourth-placed Ospreys in a repeat of last season’s grand final.

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With just one point separating the teams, there is a massive incentive to win this game, denying the losers any points in the process.

The round starts on Thursday night with the Newport Gwent Dragons hosting Connacht. Eric Elwood’s men may have lost eight games this season, but they have picked up five bonus points in those losses, meaning that they are only two points behind the Dragons in the table.

A rare away victory for the westerners, who lost 30-8 at Leinster last time out, could see the teams swap places in the standings.

Returning to Friday night, Ulster host this season’s surprise package, Benetton Treviso, at Ravenhill. Four match points separate these two teams who sit sixth and eighth in the table with six wins apiece.

Ulster must be hoping to regain the top-four place they lost after round 10 and a win in this game could mark the start of a resurgence.

The other Italian team, Aironi Rugby, are also in action on Friday night, this time in Wales when they play the Cardiff Blues.

The fifth-placed Blues are just one point short of a play-off spot with a game in hand, and with the two teams ahead of them – Leinster and the Ospreys – playing each other, the Blues could take the opportunity to leapfrog over the losers of that game.

The round wraps up with both Scottish teams in action on Saturday night, Edinburgh hosting the Scarlets at Murrayfield and Glasgow Warriors making the trip to Cork to play league leaders Munster.

The Scots may have shared the honours in their derby games over the holidays with one win apiece, but they will now be facing the top two teams in the table, with Munster, in particular, being in formidable form.


Thursday, January 6 –

Newport Gwent Dragons v CONNACHT, Rodney Parade, 7.35pm (live RTE Two/S4C)

Friday, January 7 –

ULSTER v Benetton Treviso, Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland)

Cardiff Blues v Aironi Rugby, Cardiff City Stadium, 7.30pm

LEINSTER v Ospreys, the RDS, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC Wales/Dahlia TV)

Saturday, January 8 –

Edinburgh v Scarlets, Murrayfield, 6.30pm (live S4C/Dahlia TV)

MUNSTER v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm (live RTE Two/BBC ALBA)