Ulster took advantage of their rearranged round 12 game against the Newport Gwent Dragons last Friday night to claim a late victory that saw them take over at the top of the GUINNESS PRO12 table for the first time this season.
Just two points separate the top four teams, while a mere five points separate the top six in the table and of those Leinster and Munster still have a game in hand, so the competition for the end of season play-offs and qualification for next year’s European Champions Cup is really intense.
It is a Thursday night start for round 14 of the GUINNESS PRO12 with the Dragons in action against an Irish province once again, this time welcoming Connacht to Rodney Parade. Having not been outside the top four all season the visitors will be looking to continue their run of successes against the Dragons to keep them in play-off contention.
The three remaining teams in the play-off zone are all in action at home on Friday night, table-topping Ulster hosting reigning champions Glasgow Warriors, the second-placed Scarlets also welcoming Scottish visitors, this time the capital club, Edinburgh, while fourth-placed Leinster face Italian outfit Zebre.
All three sides will be looking to make home advantage count and with only two points separating the top four teams any slip up could be costly.
Benetton Treviso and Cardiff Blues take centre stage on Saturday with the match timed to avoid a clash with the RBS 6 Nations fixture between Wales and Scotland later that afternoon. The Blues will be looking to reverse the outcome of this equivalent fixture last season which saw Treviso claim a bonus point victory.
The round wraps up at Irish Independent Park in Cork on Sunday, St. Valentine’s Day, when Munster face the Ospreys.
The Welsh region are just outside the Champions Cup qualifying places, below Munster in the table, but their opponents also have a game in hand, so every point is vital if the Ospreys are to keep their record of qualifying for Europe’s top tier every year since they were formed in 2003.
The GUINNESS PRO12 final will take place at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday, May 28. See www.pro12rugby.com for ticket details.
GUINNESS PRO12 – ROUND 14 FIXTURES:
Thursday, February 11 –
Newport Gwent Dragons (10th) v CONNACHT (3rd), Rodney Parade, 7.30pm
Friday, February 12 –
LEINSTER (4th) v Zebre (11th), the RDS, 7.30pm
ULSTER (1st) v Glasgow Warriors (8th), Kingspan Stadium, 7.30pm (live Sky Sports 3 HD)
Scarlets (2nd) v Edinburgh (5th), Parc y Scarlets, 8.15pm (live BBC 2 Wales/BBC Sport Scotland)
Saturday, February 13 –
Benetton Treviso (12th) v Cardiff Blues (9th), Stadio di Monigo, 1.30pm local time (live Rai Sport)
Sunday, February 14 –
MUNSTER (6th) v Ospreys (7th), Irish Independent Park, 5pm (live TG4/S4C)