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GUINNESS PRO12: Round 20 Preview

GUINNESS PRO12: Round 20 Preview

With just three rounds of the GUINNESS PRO12 left to play, only the top five teams can now make the play-offs. But with qualification for next season’s European Champions Cup based on meritocracy, there is something to play for in every match this weekend.

The action kicks off with perhaps the most eagerly anticipated game of the round at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. Hosts Ulster need every point if they are to claim a home draw in the PRO12 play-offs, while this really is a ‘must win’ match for visitors Leinster. Lose and should other results go against them, they could be out of contention for the last four for the first time. 
Also on Friday, European Challenge Cup finalists Edinburgh are one of three teams battling for automatic qualification to the top tier of next season’s European competitions, while Zebre are closing in on Benetton Treviso in the race to claim the Italian spot and must be hoping their hosts’ attention will be focused elsewhere.
All eyes in Wales will be on the ‘Judgement Day’ double header at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. The Ospreys need a win over Cardiff Blues to keep up their challenge to make the final four of the league, while the Scarlets can still claim automatic qualification for the Champions Cup next season – victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons is therefore essential.
Another team with European qualification on their minds, Connacht, find themselves in action against league leaders Glasgow on Saturday, the Warriors looking for every point to advance to the semi-finals as top seeds.

Connacht will be mindful that the Scarlets and Edinburgh are both making advances on the sixth place position that they have held since round 7.
And finally Munster, who are in second place thanks only to a better points difference than provincial rivals Ulster, will be looking to consolidate their advantage with a win over Treviso which will be no easy task as the Italians are also gunning for Champions Cup qualification.  
Meanwhile, all general tickets are now sold out for the GUINNESS PRO12 final at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday, May 30 (kick-off 6.30pm). The finalists will receive 2,000 tickets each. The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports and on terrestrial television – channel to be confirmed once finalists are known (BBC/S4C/TG4).

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Friday, April 24 –

Edinburgh (8th) v Zebre (12th), BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live BBC ALBA/Nuvolari TV)

ULSTER (3rd) v LEINSTER (5th), Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/Sky Sports 5 HD)

Saturday, April 25 –

CONNACHT (6th) v Glasgow Warriors (1st), the Sportsground, 1.05pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)

Cardiff Blues (10th) v Ospreys (4th), Millennium Stadium, 2.30pm (live BBC 2 Wales)

MUNSTER (2nd) v Benetton Treviso (11th), Irish Independent Park, 3.05pm (live TG4/Nuvolari TV)

Newport Gwent Dragons (9th) v Scarlets (7th), Millennium Stadium, 4.45pm (live S4C)