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RaboDirect PRO12: Round 16 Preview

RaboDirect PRO12: Round 16 Preview

This weekend’s round of RaboDirect PRO12 action kicks off on Thursday night when Benetton Treviso are the visitors to Parc y Scarlets.

They may be only one place apart in the table, but Benetton Treviso are seven points behind Scarlets. The home side will need to continue their good vein of form if they want to make it to the play-offs.

The three league matches on Friday night all fall within the auspices of the IRFU, with games at Connacht, Munster and Ulster.

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Victory for Connacht could see them leapfrog over their opponents Edinburgh in the table, the other two games bring the battle for the top four places into sharp focus.

Munster and Glasgow Warriors have traded third and fourth places for four weeks running, just two points now separate them in the table, but Tony McGahan’s men have a game in hand.

Munster’s opponents this week, Cardiff Blues, are just outside the play-off zone, but a win for them in Limerick, should other result go their way, could move the Welsh region into the top four.

The top two teams have remained in situ since round 10, and while Leinster are now 10 points clear of the chasing pack, the prospect of a home semi-final on offer means that the second-placed Ospreys will be looking to consolidate their position.

However, a trip to Ravenhill on a Friday night, with Ulster themselves aiming for a top four finish, is not the place to go in search of points.

There is just one game on Saturday, in what could be a taster of the play-offs when Leinster face Glasgow Warriors, albeit this time in Scotland.

Both teams are building up impressive undefeated records, one of which will have to give if either side are to take a win from this encounter.

Round 16 wraps up in Italy on Sunday when the Newport Gwent Dragons are the visitors to Stadio Zaffanella to face another team at the wrong end of the table, Aironi.

The Italian outfit are on a roll having won their last two home games, and will be keen to add a Welsh region to that tally.

Should he be selected to play against Edinburgh, Connacht’s long-serving lock Michael Swift will equal Deiniol Jones’ record for the most number of games played in the league – 139.


Thursday, February 23 –

Scarlets v Benetton Treviso, Parc y Scarlets, 7.35pm (live S4C)

Friday, February 24 –

MUNSTER v Cardiff Blues, Thomond Park, 7.05pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC 2 Wales)

CONNACHT v Edinburgh, the Sportsground, 7.30pm

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

Saturday, February 25 –

Glasgow Warriors v LEINSTER, Firhill Stadium, 6pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)

Sunday, February 26 –

Aironi Rugby v Newport Gwent Dragons, Stadio Zaffanella, 4.30pm local time (live RAI Sport 2)