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GUINNESS PRO12: Round 16 Preview

GUINNESS PRO12: Round 16 Preview

Last weekend Connacht returned to the top of the GUINNESS PRO12 table after their bonus point win in Italy, while the previous leaders, Ulster, dropped to fourth following their defeat by the narrowest of margins to the Scarlets.

Ulster’s losing bonus point in that game was the 50th claimed so far this season, that tally has only been bettered in an entire season on three occasions – and there are still seven rounds to play.
In fact, 280 points in total were scored in the six games in round 15, the best in a round this season, helped no doubt by the 85 points scored in the Zebre v Connacht fixture in Parma – the fourth biggest match tally in PRO12 history.

Treviso’s Ludovico Nitoglia became the first Italian to make 100 PRO12 appearances and also became just the sixth player to score a try on his 100th game, while Munster’s Ian Keatley racked up his 150th PRO12 appearance.
Just four points separate the teams in the play-off zone, but second-placed Leinster have a game in hand over the Scarlets, Ulster and leaders Connacht.

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Connacht are the only one of the top four at home this weekend, and face the Ospreys who along with Edinburgh and Munster are the three teams level on 38 points battling it out for European Champions Cup qualification.
Current champions Glasgow Warriors lie eighth in the table, but still have two games in hand over most of their rivals, so could make a late push for a play-off place, while Treviso’s two consecutive wins have closed the gap to Zebre to just four points for the Italian spot in Europe’s top tier next season.
The GUINNESS PRO12 final will take place at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday, May 28. See www.pro12rugby.com for ticket details.


Thursday, February 25 –

Newport Gwent Dragons (10th) v Glasgow Warriors (8th), Rodney Parade, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Wales/BBC ALBA)

Saturday, February 27 –

CONNACHT (1st) v Ospreys (6th), the Sportsground, 7.35pm (live TG4.ie/Saorview Red Button/Ch 602 Virgin Media)

Sunday, February 28 –

Benetton Treviso (12th) v MUNSTER (7th), Stadio di Monigo, 3pm local time/2pm Irish time (live Rai Sport)

Cardiff Blues (9th) v ULSTER (4th), BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, 2.30pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/S4C)

Edinburgh (5th) v Scarlets (3rd), BT Murrayfield, 2.05pm (live BBC Sport Scotland)

Zebre (11th) v LEINSTER (2nd), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 4pm local time/3pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 3 HD/Rai Sport)