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GUINNESS PRO12: Round 9 Preview

GUINNESS PRO12: Round 9 Preview

After a round that saw five home wins, Connacht retained their table-topping position thanks to a result that bucked that trend, away to Munster at Thomond Park. On a blustery weekend, match results were so tight that losing bonus points were claimed in four of the games, whereas the only try-scoring bonus point was in Edinburgh’s 32-13 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons.

Leaders Connacht kick off round 9 with their game at Cardiff Blues on Friday night, and few people would bet against the visitors adding to their only two previous victories at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park. Should he be selected for this game, Connacht captain John Muldoon will become the first player to make 200 appearances in the GUINNESS PRO12.
There is also action in Belfast on Friday when Ulster face Edinburgh. Equal on points, Edinburgh sit above their hosts in a Champions Cup qualifying place courtesy of having more wins, while seven out of Ulster’s 23 points come from bonus points.
Current champions Glasgow Warriors lie just outside the play-off zone but welcome fourth-placed Leinster to Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday, a home win could see the teams swap places.

Second-placed Scarlets are also in action on Saturday, travelling to bottom of the table Benetton Treviso. The Welshmen may consider their task easier but they have lost to the Italian outfit on four previous occasions.
The round wraps up with two games involving Welsh regions on Sunday, the Newport Gwent Dragons hosting Munster and Ospreys travelling to play Zebre.

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The Dragons lost their home record last time out and have won only two out of eight so far in this campaign, while third-placed Munster are the complete opposite with a won six, lost two record.
The Ospreys have won three games so far, including last time out against regional rivals Cardiff, and are beginning to progress up the table – swapping eighth spot with the Dragons after last weekend’s win. They must hope the trip to Italy will bring the same kind of reward.
With a third of the season already gone, teams will be looking to consolidate their positions in the PRO12 table before the focus turns once again to European competition followed by the Christmas and New Year derbies.
The GUINNESS PRO12 final will take place at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday, May 28. See www.pro12rugby.com for ticket details.


Friday, December 4 –

Cardiff Blues (10th) v CONNACHT (1st), BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, 7.05pm (live TG4/BBC 2 Wales)

ULSTER (7th) v Edinburgh (6th), Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/BBC ALBA)

Saturday, December 5 –

Benetton Treviso (12th) v Scarlets (2nd), Stadio di Monigo, 3pm local time (live Rai Sport)

Glasgow Warriors (5th) v LEINSTER (4th), Scotstoun Stadium, 3pm (live Sky Sports 1 HD)

Sunday, December 6 –

Newport Gwent Dragons (9th) v MUNSTER (3rd), Rodney Parade, 2.30pm (live S4C/highlights TG4)

Zebre (11th) v Ospreys (8th), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 3pm local time (live Rai Sport)