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GUINNESS PRO14: Round 12 Preview

GUINNESS PRO14: Round 12 Preview

An epic round of Christmas derby action has left fans craving for more after 84,960 supporters turned out to witness the tribal rivalries in full force. Shock results, last-minute winners and sell-out crowds headlined round 11 of the GUINNESS PRO14 with the 1872 Cup match between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors and the interprovincial derby between Munster and Leinster setting attendance records for those respective fixtures.

Played in front of a record crowd of 23,833 at BT Murrayfield, the 1872 Cup tie saw late, late drama as Edinburgh’s Chris Dean touched down to end Glasgow Warriors’ 10-game unbeaten start to the season, a result which also ended the visitors’ hopes of equalling Ulster’s record of 11 wins to start a Championship campaign.

The sides meet again at Scotstoun Stadium this weekend where a second victory for Edinburgh would secure the 1872 Cup, however, Glasgow will aim to rebound and ensure the fight for the famous trophy stretches out to their round 21 clash in April.

Like Edinburgh, reigning champions, the Scarlets, also overcame a red card and produced a winner in the final moments of their game against the Ospreys, while the Dragons almost completed a famous comeback against Cardiff Blues as the Welsh derbies produced some riveting action in front of sell-out crowds. An attendance of 26,267 at Thomond Park set a record for the highest figure at the Limerick venue across all competitions in the professional era.

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Once more, the Italian derby between Zebre and Benetton Rugby will get the action up and running in round 12. Zebre were unfortunate to fall away in Treviso last weekend after playing much of the second half with 14 players and will have home advantage to strike back. Both teams will be feeling the pressure to produce a result and keep themselves in the hunt for the Champions Cup play-off spot in their respective conferences.

With their unbeaten run at an end, Glasgow’s rematch with Edinburgh at Scotstoun presents more than an opportunity for revenge. Firstly, they must ensure the 1872 Cup goes to the third derby game in round 21, while they must also work to keep Munster at bay in second place.

Dave Rennie’s men lead last season’s beaten finalists by 12 points in Conference A, however, in Conference B Edinburgh now have third-placed Ulster in their sights and there is no doubt that the games in Glasgow and Belfast (Ulster v Munster) will be heavily linked with each other.

On New Year’s Eve, Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets meet in the Welsh capital with both regions under pressure from the Irish provinces beneath them in their respective Conferences.

Due to the Toyota Cheetahs’ ineligibility for Europe, the Blues are currently in possession of an automatic Champions Cup place, however, they are ahead of Connacht by virtue of games won. Meanwhile, the Scarlets lead Leinster by just two points in Conference B with both sides determined to finish top of the pile in order to ensure home advantage in the GUINNESS PRO14 final series. With so much at stake, Cardiff v Scarlets should be a cracker.

The Dragons take on the Ospreys at Rodney Parade after a sell-out crowd saw them come so close to a result against Cardiff earlier this week. The Ospreys remain bottom of Conference A with just two wins so far and this derby will be vital to both teams who are eager to grab some momentum heading into 2018.

Leinster face Connacht in Dublin on the back of their spectacular 34-24 win over Munster in round 11, and with two derby games in a row at the RDS, Leo Cullen’s charges will not want to slip up as they chase the Scarlets hard for top billing in Conference B. Connacht will be full of confidence after their record 44-16 victory over Ulster at the Sportsground, and with some of the PRO14’s most exciting attacking talent on show, this encounter should provide plenty of entertainment.

In what will be another sell-out affair, this is a must-win match for Ulster and Munster as they collide at Kingspan Stadium with no margin for error. A loss for Ulster could see Leinster and the Scarlets stretch away at the top in Conference B, while providing Edinburgh with more encouragement in the chasing pack.

Likewise, Munster need to keep in sight of Glasgow Warriors and ensure that the Cheetahs do not usurp them in second place in Conference A after January’s back-to-back South African derbies.

This fixture in Belfast will also be a key battle for Irish players eager to impress Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt as the 2018 Six Nations Championship draws closer, and an uncompromising physical battle looks set to play out.


Saturday, December 30 –

Glasgow Warriors (1st, Con A) v Edinburgh (4th, Con B), Scotstoun Stadium, 3.15pm (live Sky Sports Main Event/Action)

Zebre (6th, Con A) v Benetton Rugby (5th, Con B), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 3pm local time (live Eurosport Italia)

Sunday, December 31 –

Cardiff Blues (4th, Con A) v Scarlets (1st, Con B), Cardiff Arms Park, 3.15pm (live Sky Sports Action/BBC 2 Wales)

Dragons (6th, Con B) v Ospreys (7th, Con A), Rodney Parade, 5.35pm (live S4C)

Monday, January 1 –

LEINSTER (2nd, Con B) v CONNACHT (5th, Con A), the RDS, 3.15pm (live TG4)

ULSTER (3rd, Con B) v MUNSTER (2nd, Con A), Kingspan Stadium, 5.35pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/TG4)



Ross Byrne (Leinster) 86
Carlo Canna (Zebre) 81
Gavin Henson (Dragons) 77
Jack Carty (Connacht) 77
Ernst Stapelberg (Toyota Cheetahs) 72


Makazole Mapimpi (Toyota Cheetahs) 9
Angelo Esposito (Benetton Rugby) 7
Alex Wootton (Munster) 7
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh) 6
Elliot Dee (Dragons) 5
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 5
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 5
Rory O’Loughlin (Leinster) 5
Steff Evans (Scarlets) 5
Andrew Trimble (Ulster) 5
Torsten van Jaarsveld (Toyota Cheetahs) 5


Steff Evans (Scarlets) 8
Luke McGrath (Leinster) 7
John Cooney (Ulster) 6

Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 6


Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 897
Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht) 757
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 747
Charles Piutau (Ulster) 737
Alex Wootton (Munster) 673


Olly Cracknell (Ospreys) 144
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 135
Bundee Aki (Connacht) 128

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 119
Charles Piutau (Ulster) 118


Makazole Mapimpi (Toyota Cheetahs) 19
Steff Evans (Scarlets) 16
Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 15
Giulio Bisegni (Zebre) 14
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 13
Jeff Hassler (Ospreys) 13
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 13


Tom Farrell (Connacht) 38
Alex Wootton (Munster) 36

Steff Evans (Scarlets) 35
Charles Piutau (Ulster) 35
Renato Giammarioli (Zebre) 34


John Cooney (Ulster) 714
Kieran Marmion (Connacht) 701

Marcello Violi (Zebre) 695
Tom Habberfield (Ospreys) 662
Nathan Fowles (Edinburgh) 434


Tom Farrell (Connacht) 29
Steff Evans (Scarlets) 20
Charles Piutau (Ulster) 19
Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 18
Alex Wootton (Munster) 17


Gavin Henson (Dragons) 77
Jack Carty (Connacht) 77
Carlo Canna (Zebre) 74
Ian Keatley (Munster) 70
Sam Davies (Ospreys) 69


James Benjamin (Dragons) 135
Andisa Ntsila (Southern Kings) 132
Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues) 126
Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 124
Olly Cracknell (Ospreys) 123


Reniel Hugo (Toyota Cheetahs) 56
Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) 40
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 37
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) 36
Cory Hill (Dragons) 31


Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets) 19
Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues) 11
Carlo Canna (Zebre) 10
Josh van der Flier (Leinster) 9
Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) 9
Will Boyde (Scarlets) 9

For more statistics, please visit www.pro14rugby.org/powered-by-opta