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GUINNESS PRO14: Round 5 Preview

GUINNESS PRO14: Round 5 Preview

The 2017/18 GUINNESS PRO14 season set new attacking records with 861 tries scored, but with a scintillating round 4 this year now under our belts new heights are being reached in the Championship.

In the first 28 games of the season 168 tries have now been scored – the first time that the running average for a season has ever hit six tries per game in the entire history of the GUINNESS PRO14. Round 5 brings with it a whole host of fascinating fixtures, including the season’s first derby matches which take place in Ireland. 

The 2018/19 campaign may still be in its early stages but all teams will have their hopes on reaching the GUINNESS PRO14 final on Saturday, May 25 which will take place at Celtic Park in Glasgow. Fans can book their places now by clicking here to get their hands on the best seats available.

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The round 5 action begins on Friday night with a double helping of games, the first of which sees the Toyota Cheetahs travel to the Welsh capital to take on Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

After finishing last season in hugely impressive fashion, the Blues would have hoped for a better start to this campaign, falling to three straight defeats, but got their September flying last week with that big win over Munster. Willis Halaholo was the star of the show, creating tries for Nick Williams and Tomos Williams before scoring his own impressive try, and looks to be a man to watch this week.

Similarly to the Blues, the Cheetahs also ended a run of defeats but could only draw with Ulster – a 39-all final scoreline that thrilled the onlooking crowds. These two sides played out a pair of crackers last season (Cardiff won 25-20 on home soil and the Cheetahs won 29-27 in Bloemfontein).

The second match on Friday sees Edinburgh host Benetton Rugby at BT Murrayfield. Richard Cockerill’s men have one win from their first four but have faced a tough schedule, as exemplified by their trip to defending champions Leinster at the weekend, with the province running out 31-7 bonus point winners.

Edinburgh, though, have been competitive in all their games this season and can look to their round 3 victory over Connacht for inspiration. Benetton Rugby may have lost at the Ospreys last Saturday (27-10) but have already beaten the Dragons and the Blues this season, and also overcame Edinburgh in dramatic fashion at Myreside last September.

The first of five fixtures on Saturday takes place at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi where Zebre meet the Ospreys. The Italian side have had an excellent start to the season, beating the Southern Kings and Cardiff, with Oliviero Fabiani and Mattia Bellini both registering with two tries so far.

Zebre have won their last four home matches, as well as their last three home games against Welsh opponents. The Ospreys, meanwhile, have also started strongly and are second in the Conference A table with three wins out of four. 

Later on Saturday, the Scarlets welcome the Kings to Parc y Scarlets, looking to improve on their record of two wins from four. Last season’s beaten finalists set high standards but have faced tough opponents, losing to Connacht and Ulster but beating Leinster and Benetton Rugby.

Last time out was the 33-20 defeat to Connacht at the Sportsground and Andy Friend’s side were superb on the day, but Johnny McNicholl scored an excellent try for the Scarlets. The Kings enjoyed a dream round 4 as they grabbed their first win by beating previously-undefeated Glasgow Warriors 38-28. The South Africans were magnificent on the day, with Harlon Klaasen’s try, set up by centre partner and namesake Berton Klaasen, a score of beauty.

In one of the later kick-offs on Saturday, Glasgow play host to the Dragons at Scotstoun, aiming to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to the Kings. As was the case last season, Glasgow have started extremely well, picking up three wins to top their conference after four matches.

A double for DTH van der Merwe helped the Warriors to a losing bonus point in South Africa, while man of the moment – out-half Adam Hastings – could return against the Dragons. The Welsh region are looking to be pick up some steam. They beat Zebre 16-5 in round 4 and possess the top tackler in the Championship, captain Cory Hill, has made 49 without missing one, while Ross Moriarty made 19 on his own against Zebre.

The interprovincial derby matches get underway this weekend as Munster welcome Ulster to Thomond Park, looking for a third win at home this season. Johann van Graan’s charges were beaten in Cardiff last time out, but have taken a maximum ten points from their two games at home so far this season. Ulster are the only remaining unbeaten team this season, although they failed to win for the first time last week in a dramatic draw in Bloemfontein. Ulster’s last victory at Thomond Park came in May 2014.

In the pick of the round 5 clashes, Conference B leaders Leinster travel to Connacht on Saturday with the target of making it four wins from five this season. Connacht picked up an impressive victory over the Scarlets at the Sportsground and will look to complete an early season double over last year’s two PRO14 finalists.

The westerners, who lie third in the Conference A standings, won all three of their matches against Irish opposition at home including their April one against Leinster, the champions’ only defeat to any of their provincial rivals last season.


Friday, September 28 –

Cardiff Blues (6th, Con A) v Toyota Cheetahs (7th, Con A), Cardiff Arms Park, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports/SuperSport 1/eir Sport 2)

Edinburgh (7th, Con B) v Benetton Rugby (4th, Con B), BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports/eir Sport 1/DAZN)

Saturday, September 29 –

Zebre (5th, Con A) v Ospreys (2nd, Con A), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 4pm local time (live Premier Sports/DAZN/eir Sport 1)

CONNACHT (3rd, Con A) v LEINSTER (1st, Con B), the Sportsground, 5.15pm (live TG4/eir Sport 1/Premier Sports)

Scarlets (3rd, Con B) v Isuzu Southern Kings (6th, Con B), Parc y Scarlets, 6.30pm (live Premier Sports/S4C/SuperSport 1)

Glasgow Warriors (1st, Con A) v Dragons (5th, Con B), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live Free Sports)

MUNSTER (4th, Con A) v ULSTER (2nd, Con B), Thomond Park, 7.35pm (live eir Sport 1/Premier Sports/deferred TG4)



Jack Carty (Connacht) 46
John Cooney (Ulster) 44
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 40
Sam Davies (Ospreys) 40
Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby) 37


Niyi Adeolokun (Connacht) 3
Gareth Davies (Scarlets) 3
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 3
Rhys Marshall (Munster) 3

George North (Ospreys) 3
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 3
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) 3
DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 3


Jordan Williams (Dragons) 401
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 363
Craig Gilroy (Ulster) 315
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 314

DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 295


Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 60
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 58

Luke Hamilton (Edinburgh) 56
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 48
Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht) 48


Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 9
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 9
DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 8
George North (Ospreys) 8
Harlon Klaasen (Isuzu Southern Kings) 7
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 7
Edoardo Padovani (Zebre) 7
Darren Cave (Ulster) 7


DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 19
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 19
George North (Ospreys) 17
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 16
Jordan Williams (Dragons) 15


Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 10
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 8
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 6

Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 6
Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 6


Bobby de Wee (Isuzu Southern Kings) 67
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 58
Cory Hill (Dragons) 58
Ross Moriarty (Dragons) 56
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) 52


Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 6
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) 5
Benhard Janse van Rensburg (Toyota Cheetahs) 5
James Davies (Scarlets) 5
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) 5


Junior Sipato Pokomela (Toyota Cheetahs) 4
Cory Hill (Dragons) 4
George Biagi (Zebre) 3
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 3
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 3
Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 3
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 3

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