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RaboDirect PRO12: Round 17 Preview

RaboDirect PRO12: Round 17 Preview

Round 17 of the RaboDirect PR12 kicks off with five games on Friday night, with both contenders for the top spot in action.

Leaders Ulster, who have been at the top since round 5, welcome Benetton Treviso to Ravenhill and the second-placed Glasgow Warriors host Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun Stadium.

Having lost out to their nearest rivals Glasgow last time out, Ulster are now only three points clear at the top and must be hoping for a victory over Treviso to help them hold onto the top spot for the remaining six rounds and claim one of the coveted home semi-final berths.

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The only time Glasgow have topped the table was over the Christmas/New Year period during the 2009/10 campaign, but they are the form team of the moment, having claimed bonus point wins in their last four outings. The Scots will be hoping to continue that roll against the Cardiff Blues.

There is a settled look to the top of the table, the first three places have been the same for the last four rounds, but should the Warriors slip up, Leinster are poised to claim advantage if they are able to overcome the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The Scarlets, who dropped out of the play-off zone following their defeat at Leinster last weekend, welcome Edinburgh to Parc y Scarlets, a venue the visitors have won at just once – in 2009.

The round wraps up on Saturday when two of the protagonists for a top four finish, Munster and the Ospreys, face each other at Thomond Park.

History suggests that Munster have the better record of these clashes at Thomond Park, but the Ospreys have taken the spoils in the last four meetings between the teams, so this game is finely balanced.


Friday, March 1 –

Newport Gwent Dragons (11th) v LEINSTER (3rd), Rodney Parade, 7pm

Scarlets (5th) v Edinburgh (10th), Parc y Scarlets, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Wales/BBC ALBA)

ULSTER (1st) v Benetton Treviso (8th), Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland)

Glasgow Warriors (2nd) v Cardiff Blues (7th), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm

CONNACHT (9th) v Zebre (12th), the Sportsground, 7.45pm (live TG4)

Saturday, March 2 –

MUNSTER (6th) v Ospreys (4th), Thomond Park, 6.30pm (live RTÉ Two/S4C)