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GUINNESS PRO12: Round 20 Preview

GUINNESS PRO12: Round 20 Preview

Glasgow Warriors’ bonus point victory over Zebre in their rearranged GUINNESS PRO12 round 12 fixture last Friday lifted the Warriors up to third in the table, their highest placing this campaign, with all teams now having played 19 games.

This late in the season the results of each round can have a dramatic impact on a team’s place in the table, especially in the contest for a top four finish and ultimately a place in the league’s flagship event – the GUINNESS PRO12 final at Murrayfield on Saturday, May 28.
Round 20 starts on Friday night and the Ospreys will face tough competition from a Benetton Treviso side still trying to make up ground on Zebre who currently hold the designated Italian place in next season’s European Champions Cup. 
Elsewhere, table-topping Leinster host seventh-placed Edinburgh. Victory is vital for both teams’ prospects – Leinster to maintain their push for a home semi-final, and Edinburgh to try and ensure there are two Scottish qualifiers in the 2016/17 Champions Cup.
One of the games of the round is the clash between the Scarlets and Glasgow Warriors on Saturday. The Warriors took over the Scarlets’ third place spot in the table, and a win here could, other results pending, propel them towards a home semi-final. The Scarlets, who have been in the top four since round 2, need a victory to maintain their own challenge for the knockout phase.
Later on Saturday, fifth-placed Ulster are in action in Italy and should the result of the earlier match go their way, victory over Zebre could see Ulster return to the top four. Zebre need as many points they can gain to stave off the challenge from Treviso for a place in Europe’s top tier next season.
‘Super Saturday’ finishes with a mouth-watering interprovincial derby between Connacht and Munster at the Sportsground in Galway. Connacht have to put the disappointment of their European Challenge Cup exit behind them to concentrate on their quest for a first ever PRO12 title  but need to overcome three-time champions Munster first.
The round wraps up on Sunday with European Challenge Cup semi-finalists, the Newport Gwent Dragons, hosting fellow Welsh region Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade. Both teams are hoping to represent Wales in the Champions Cup next season, but while the Dragons could progress through the Challenge Cup, the Blues must look towards the PRO12 for their route.
The PRO12 final will take place at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday, May 28. See www.pro12rugby.com for ticket details.


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Friday, April 15 –

Ospreys (9th) v Benetton Treviso (12th), Liberty Stadium, 7.35pm (live BBC 2 Wales)

LEINSTER (1st) v Edinburgh (7th), the RDS, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)

Saturday, April 16 –

Scarlets (4th) v Glasgow Warriors (3rd), Parc y Scarlets, 3.15pm (live Sky Sports 1 HD)

Zebre (11th) v ULSTER (5th), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 5pm local time/4pm Irish time (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/Rai Sport)

CONNACHT (2nd) v MUNSTER (6th), the Sportsground, 7.15pm (live TG4/Sky Sports 5 HD)

Sunday, April 17 –

Cardiff Blues (8th) v Newport Gwent Dragons (10th), BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, 2.30pm (live S4C)