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RaboDirect PRO12: Round 1 Preview

RaboDirect PRO12: Round 1 Preview

The 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12 season kicks off with both the reigning champions Leinster and Ulster, the beaten finalists last May, in action in Wales on Friday night.

Title holders Leinster are not known as fast starters whereas their hosts on Friday, the Scarlets, were joint-top of the table after the first round last year, so Simon Easterby’s men will be looking to make the most of their home advantage.

The Newport Gwent Dragons were the only other team that took maximum points from their opening fixture last season, but they will find Ulster far tougher opposition then new boys Zebre were at the start of the 2012/13 campaign.

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Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues complete the action on Friday night. Although the Warriors did not make the most auspicious start to the season, they did reach the play-offs last year and know that every point counts if they are to better that performance this time around.

The remaining three round 1 games all take place on Saturday, in Italy and Ireland. In a repeat of last season’s opening fixture, the Ospreys travel to Italy to face Benetton Treviso – but they must be hoping for a better result than last year having lost that game 12-6 to their hosts.

The second Italian outfit, Zebre, face Connacht in Galway. The visitors are still looking for that elusive first ever win in the competition, but should be buoyed by the fact that the last two times the teams met there was less than seven points separating them.

The round wraps up on Saturday evening at Musgrave Park in Cork where Munster welcome Edinburgh and history seems to favour the hosts who have only been defeated once over the opening weekend of the league since 2006.


Friday, September 6 –

Scarlets v LEINSTER, Parc y Scarlets, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Wales/www.rte.ie live stream)

Newport Gwent Dragons v ULSTER, Rodney Parade, 7.15pm (live BBC red button)

Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues, Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live BBC ALBA)

Saturday, September 7 –

CONNACHT v Zebre, the Sportsground, 5pm

Benetton Treviso v Ospreys, Stadio di Monigo, 7.30pm local time (live Mediaset/S4C)

MUNSTER v Edinburgh, Musgrave Park, 7.15pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)