Two captivating rounds of European rugby are now done and dusted as the GUINNESS PRO14 flies back into view this weekend with a full schedule of games.
Rounds 5 and 6 featured the first derby matches of the season and we are now into the second block of fixtures, with the plot thickening in both Conferences. Perhaps the result of round 6 saw Connacht win away at Ulster for the first time since November 1960, while the much-anticipated clash between Leinster and Munster saw Leo Cullen’s men edge it 30-22.
Can Connacht win away again in round 7? They travel to the Ospreys in an intriguing match-up, while Munster and Glasgow Warriors meet at Thomond Park in a Saturday tea-time blockbuster. The 2018/19 campaign is well under way and every team has hopes on reaching the GUINNESS PRO14 final on Saturday, May 25 which will take place at Celtic Park – fans can book their places now by clicking here to get their hands on the best seats available.
If you have been missing the PRO14 action in recent weeks then Friday night brings the perfect remedy in the shape of four evening matches. The first of these sees the Isuzu Southern Kings host the Scarlets in Port Elizabeth. The two sides have already met once this season, with the Scarlets running out 54-14 winners at Parc y Scarlets, while last year they played out a thriller at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as the west Walians edged things 34-30.
Last time out Wayne Pivac’s men had to battle to a 20-17 victory over the Ospreys in a Welsh derby, and the Kings were defeated 28-5 at Benetton Rugby. The South Africans’ latest home outing, though, was a 38-28 victory over Glasgow, and they will be keen to resurrect that form once again.
An hour later on Friday Zebre host Edinburgh at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. The match-up between these two sides looks to be a competitive one, with Edinburgh’s overall record in Parma seeing them win three but lose two.
Last time out in the PRO14 Edinburgh defeated the Toyota Cheetahs 37-21, but since then Richard Cockerill’s charges were a whisker short of beating Montpellier in France and then hit top gear against Toulon in Scotland. Zebre have their own European successes to build on, beating Bristol in the Challenge Cup last week, and have also defeated both the Kings and Cardiff Blues in Parma this season.
Also on Friday night, Ulster host the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium, lying just above the Welshmen in Conference B. After winning their first three PRO14 matches, Dan McFarland’s side are without a win in three, but did impress in round 1 of the Champions Cup against Leicester Tigers. The Dragons look to be improving week to week and since beating Zebre 16-5 in round 4 have looked increasingly cohesive, enjoying a 54-17 Challenge Cup rout of Timisoara Saracens.
The fourth Friday night kick-off sees Connacht travel to take on the Ospreys. This game has been moved to Bridgend and the Morganstone Brewery Field, and will be the first Championship match to be hosted at the venue since Celtic Warriors beat Cardiff Blues there on 7 May 2004.
The Ospreys are three places higher in the Conference A table but also only three points better off than Connacht who will be desperate to get one over one of their conference rivals, with a leapfrogging possible. The westerners have the perfect template for victory on Friday with their away win at Ulster in round 6, but the Ospreys have won four PRO14 games already this season and represent stern opposition.
Conference B leaders Leinster are on their travels on Saturday as they visit Benetton’s Stadio di Monigo. The match features two of the PRO14’s in-form teams as ever-improving Benetton go in search of a fourth win of their campaign.
Until recently Leinster could claim an incredible record against the Italian outfit, winning 29 games straight, but Benetton displayed their rapid improvements in April by beating the eventual PRO14 champions 17-15 at the RDS. Both of these sides are also coming off the back of PRO14 victories, with Benetton beating the Kings 28-5 and Leinster downing Munster in round 6.
Cardiff Blues travel to take on the Cheetahs (A7) in South Africa in a repeat of one of the best games of last season. That April match at Toyota Stadium saw the Cheetahs triumph 29-27 over the Blues in a breath-taking, end-to-end game of rugby – these two sides also met recently in round 5 with the Blues prevailing 24-21.
Owen Lane was the hero for the Cardiff outfit last time out in the PRO14, scoring two tries to help them win at Rodney Parade, but the Cheetahs came very close to beating the Blues in that round 5 encounter and will fancy their chances on home turf.
In the pick of the round, many will be looking forward to Munster’s match-up with Glasgow Warriors (A1) on Saturday – the 2000th game in the Championship. Just as they did last season, Glasgow have started their PRO14 campaign on fire, winning five from six to top Conference A and with a big win over Zebre last time out.
Dave Rennie’s charges were also in good Champions Cup form last weekend, defeating Cardiff 29-12 in Wales, and will not be daunted by a trip to Thomond Park. Munster are also coming off the back of Champions Cup success, beating Gloucester 36-22 last Saturday, and have racked up an impressive 151 points at Thomond Park already this season in the PRO14. Tries will surely ensue.
GUINNESS PRO14 – ROUND 7 FIXTURES:
Friday, October 26 –
Ospreys (2nd, Con A) v CONNACHT (5th, Con A), Morganstone Brewery Field, 8.05pm (live TG4/Premier Sports 2)
Isuzu Southern Kings (7th, Con B) v Scarlets (2nd, Con B), Madibaz Stadium, 7pm local time (live Premier Sports 2/SuperSport 1/eir Sport 1)
ULSTER (5th, Con B) v Dragons (6th, Con B), Kingspan Stadium, 7.55pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 2)
Zebre (6th, Con A) v Edinburgh (4th, Con B), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 8pm local time (live DAZN/Free Sports)
Saturday, October 27 –
Benetton Rugby (3rd, Con B) v LEINSTER (1st, Con B), Stadio di Monigo, 4pm local time (live eir Sport 1/DAZN/Premier Sports 1/highlights TG4)
MUNSTER (4th, Con A) v Glasgow Warriors (1st, Con A), Thomond Park, 5.15pm (live eir Sport 1/Premier Sports 1/highlights TG4)
Toyota Cheetahs (7th, Con A) v Cardiff Blues (3rd, Con A), Toyota Stadium, 7.15pm local time (live Premier Sports 2/S4C/SuperSport 1)
TOP PERFORMERS IN GUINNESS PRO14 AFTER ROUND 6 (Powered by Opta Statistics):
TOP POINTS SCORERS –
Sam Davies (Ospreys) 59
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 57
Jack Carty (Connacht) 54
Simon Hickey (Edinburgh) 53
John Cooney (Ulster) 49
TOP TRY SCORERS –
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 5
James Lowe (Leinster) 4
George North (Ospreys) 4
Niyi Adeolokun (Connacht) 3
Bjorn Basson (Isuzu Southern Kings) 3
Gareth Davies (Scarlets) 3
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 3
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) 3
Rhys Marshall (Munster) 3
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 3
Luke Morgan (Ospreys) 3
Tommy O’Donnell (Munster) 3
Yaw Penxe (Isuzu Southern Kings) 3
Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby) 3
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 3
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) 3
DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 3
METRES GAINED –
Jordan Williams (Dragons) 490
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 401
Craig Gilroy (Ulster) 381
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 371
George North (Ospreys) 364
MOST CARRIES –
Bill Mata (Edinburgh) 81
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 75
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 69
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 68
Jordan Williams (Dragons) 64
CLEAN BREAKS –
Jason Harries (Cardiff Blues) 10
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 10
Edoardo Padovani (Zebre) 9
James Lowe (Leinster) 9
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 9
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 9
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 9
Andrew Conway (Munster) 9
Darren Cave (Ulster) 9
George North (Ospreys) 9
DEFENDERS BEATEN –
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 25
George North (Ospreys) 22
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 21
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 20
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 20
MOST OFFLOADS –
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 11
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 10
Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 10
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 8
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 8
Iliesa Ratuva (Benetton Rugby) 8
MOST TACKLES –
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 85
Bobby de Wee (Isuzu Southern Kings) 77
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) 71
Andisa Ntsila (Isuzu Southern Kings) 71
Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) 70
Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby) 70
TURNOVERS WON –
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 10
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) 10
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) 10
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 7
Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 7
LINEOUT STEALS –
George Biagi (Zebre) 5
Cory Hill (Dragons) 4
Junior Sipato Pokomela (Toyota Cheetahs) 4
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 4
Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 4
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 4
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 4
For more statistics, please visit www.pro14rugby.org/statistics/powered-by-opta/