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GUINNESS PRO14: Round 8 Preview

GUINNESS PRO14: Round 8 Preview

The return of the GUINNESS PRO14 last week was marked by a number of eye-catching results and thrilling finishes, none more so than Rory Scannell’s match-winning penalty against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park.

Elsewhere, Dan Evans crossed in the final minute as the Ospreys edged out Connacht in Bridgend, while Zebre and the Scarlets both overcame double-digit deficits to see off Edinburgh and the Isuzu Southern Kings respectively.

In round 8 there is a pair of intriguing Welsh-Scottish match-ups on Friday night, while the five intra-conference encounters this weekend could have a huge bearing on the final GUINNESS PRO14 final series places.

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On Friday night the Ospreys host Glasgow Warriors at the Liberty Stadium  in a game that could have huge ramifications in the race for a final series position. It was a tale of two finishes last weekend for the sides as the Ospreys snatched victory against Connacht in the final minute, while Glasgow were undone at the death by Munster.

The Ospreys come into this fixture on the back of a nine-match winning streak at home in the Championship but their last PRO14 loss in Swansea was at the hands of Warriors. On that occasion Glasgow ran out 47-6 winners, their only win at the Liberty Stadium in the last four years.

Edinburgh entertain the high-flying Scarlets at BT Murrayfield on Friday night, and games between thee sides have tended to go the way of the home team over the last six matches, with the Scarlets’ last win at BT Murrayfield coming in 2013.

Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side have won six in-a-row at the home of Scottish Rugby in all competitions, with their last loss coming to Ulster back in April. The game will also see Ben O’Keeffe become the third New Zealander to referee a game in the Championship

On Saturday Benetton Rugby play host to Ulster at Stadio di Monigo in a crucial Conference B clash. Ulster will head into the game with confidence following their bonus point victory over the Dragons last weekend, while Benetton struggled for both possession and territory in their defeat to Leinster.

Ulster have certainly had the wood over Benetton in the past, with the Italians’ only win in matches between the teams coming back in 2011. Both of last year’s encounters were tight, with Ulster sneaking a 23-22 success at home, while they held on for a 21-14 win on their last trip to Treviso, having raced into a 21-0 lead.

The second game on Saturday sees Connacht welcome the Dragons to the Sportsground,  with both teams losing on the road last weekend. Connacht have been very strong at home this season, with their only defeat coming at the hands of Leinster.

The Dragons are still searching for a first away win in this season’s Championship, although they were victorious on their travels in Europe. The Dragons were 21-8 winners at Rodney Parade in the only meeting between the sides last season.

Sunday’s fare begins in South Africa when the Isuzu Southern Kings take on Leinster at Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth. The defending champions bounced back from their European defeat to Toulouse with victory in Treviso last week and will look to strengthen their hold at the top of Conference B.

The Kings, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back after narrowly missing out on a second successive home win against the Scarlets last weekend. Both clashes at Madibaz Stadium so far have been high-scoring affairs with the Kings beating Glasgow Warriors before last Friday’s narrow loss to Wayne Pivac’s men.

The action continues in Wales where Cardiff Blues will be out for revenge against Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park. When the two sides met earlier this season, it was the Blues who raced into a 21-0 lead only to see Zebre come from behind to win the game 26-24.

Zebre have enjoyed some success against the Blues with their first ever victory coming against the Welsh side, but they have not completed the double over the Blues since 2013/14. Two places and two points currently split the sides after seven rounds.

The second fixture of the weekend in South Africa sees a mouth-watering clash as the Toyota Cheetahs take on Munster in Bloemfontein in a meeting of two of last year’s final series sides. Last year Munster edged a tight game in South Africa but they face a Cheetahs team who broke their duck last week with a comfortable win over Cardiff Blues.

Johann van Graan’s men are now third in the Conference A standings and can consolidate their position with a winning performance against the Cheetahs. The two teams have already met once this season, with Munster 38-point victors at home.


Friday, November 2 –

Edinburgh (4th, Con B) v Scarlets (2nd, Con B), BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 2)

Ospreys (2nd, Con A) v Glasgow Warriors (1st, Con A), Liberty Stadium, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 2/eir Sport 1/SuperSport 1)

Saturday, November 3 –

Benetton Rugby (5th, Con B) v ULSTER (3rd, Con B), Stadio di Monigo, 4pm local time (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 1/DAZN)

CONNACHT (5th, Con A) v Dragons (6th, Con B), the Sportsground, 5.15pm (live TG4/Premier Sports 1/S4C)

Sunday, November 4 –

Cardiff Blues (4th, Con A) v Zebre (6th, Con A), Cardiff Arms Park, 2.45pm (live Free Sports/DAZN)

Isuzu Southern Kings (7th, Con B) v LEINSTER (1st, Con B), Madibaz Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 2.45pm local time/12.45pm Irish time (live eir Sport 1/Premier Sports 1/SuperSport 1/highlights TG4)

Toyota Cheetahs (7th, Con A) v MUNSTER (3rd, Con A), Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, 4.45pm local time/2.45pm Irish time (live eir Sport 1/Premier Sports 2/SuperSport 1/highlights TG4)



Simon Hickey (Edinburgh) 64
Jack Carty (Connacht) 61
Sam Davies (Ospreys) 61
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 57
Masixole Banda (Isuzu Southern Kings) 51
Carlo Canna (Zebre) 51


Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 7
Bjorn Basson (Isuzu Southern Kings) 4
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 4
James Lowe (Leinster) 4
George North (Ospreys) 4
Yaw Penxe (Isuzu Southern Kings) 4


Jordan Williams (Dragons) 547
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 465
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 437
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 401
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 394


Bill Mata (Edinburgh) 100
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 84
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 80

Jordan Williams (Dragons) 74
Luke Hamilton (Edinburgh) 72


Jason Harries (Cardiff Blues) 13
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 13
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 12
Darren Cave (Ulster) 9
George North (Ospreys) 9
Edoardo Padovani (Zebre) 9
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 9
Andrew Conway (Munster) 9

Harlon Klaasen (Isuzu Southern Kings) 9
James Lowe (Leinster) 9
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 9
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 9
Cian Kelleher (Connacht) 9


Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 25
Jordan Williams (Dragons) 23
George North (Ospreys) 22
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 21
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 20
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 20


Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 14
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 11
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 10
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 10

Iliesa Ratuva (Benetton Rugby) 9


Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 87
John-Charles Astle (Isuzu Southern Kings) 79
Jarrad Butler (Connacht) 79

Bobby de Wee (Isuzu Southern Kings) 77
Andisa Ntsila (Isuzu Southern Kings) 77


Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 12
Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 11
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) 10
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) 10
Peter O’Mahony (Munster) 8


Junior Sipato Pokomela (Toyota Cheetahs) 6
George Biagi (Zebre) 5
Cory Hill (Dragons) 4
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 4
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 4
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 4
Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 4

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