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GUINNESS PRO14: Round 16 Preview

GUINNESS PRO14: Round 16 Preview

Winger Darren Sweetnam breaks through to score a try during Munster's 49-13 bonus point victory over the Ospreys in September ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Round 16 of the GUINNESS PRO14 comes swiftly on the heels of an entertaining weekend which saw plenty of tries scored all across Europe and three impressive away wins. Those victories came on the road for Ulster at the Ospreys, Leinster at Zebre, and Glasgow Warriors’ action-packed 38-34 victory at Cardiff Arms Park.

Ulster and Leinster’s victories contributed to an excellent round for the Irish provinces, as all four triumphed in their games to advance their claims ahead of the PRO14 final series.

Looking at the current standings, Munster hold a slight two-point advantage over Glasgow Warriors in Conference A, while Leinster are still reigning supreme in Conference B. The focus is narrowing on the 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.

The weekend kicks off on Friday night with a triple header of action that involves Glasgow hosting Connacht at Scotstoun Stadium in an intriguing battle at the top end of Conference A. If the westerners have any designs on overhauling the second-placed Warriors then this match would be the perfect place to start, with the province in good form following their 25-17 victory over the Toyota Cheetahs.

Glasgow, though, are in good form themselves after their scintillating Saturday night win at Cardiff Blues, and have only been defeated at home by Edinburgh this season, at the end of December.

Round 16’s standout fixture is an intriguing Friday night match-up under the floodlights between Conference A leaders Munster and the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. ‘Nilled’ for the first time ever at home last weekend, a wounded Ospreys will be eager to make amends in front of their own fans but face one of the PRO14’s form teams in Munster, who have won their last six matches in all competitions.

Spurred on by a superb Andrew Conway display, Johann van Graan’s men roared their way to a 43-0 success against the Isuzu Southern Kings last Friday and have also tasted victory on four of their last five visits to the Liberty Stadium. Another win here would send out a serious statement of intent to the rest of their Conference A rivals.

Slightly later on Friday night it is top versus bottom in Conference B as Leinster host the Kings at the RDS. Leo Cullen’s side have won all three previous encounters between these two sides but the Kings pushed them close in November, losing just 38-31. Leinster have won their last five in all competitions, while the Kings’ two victories this season have both been against Scottish opposition.

The Saturday lunchtime kick-off sees the Dragons travel to Benetton Rugby. The Welshmen have performed well in recent rounds, losing out 34-17 at in-form Edinburgh last time out and only being pipped 8-7 by Munster in round 14. The Dragons face a tough challenge, though, with Benetton currently flying.

The Italian outfit have picked up 23 Championship points from their last six encounters, with only Leinster and Munster having tallied up more. The Scarlets led three times against Benetton at the weekend, but tries from Toa Halafihi, Luca Sperandio and Federico Ruzza maintained the Italians’ red-hot form.

Meanwhile, in one of two late kick-offs on Saturday evening, hosts Edinburgh will look to consolidate their position in Conference B when they face Cardiff at BT Murrayfield. Richard Cockerill’s charges bounced back from their round 14 defeat away to the Kings by beating the Dragons 34-17 last weekend – thanks in part to more wing wizardry from Duhan van der Merwe – and will hope to pull clear of third-placed Benetton this weekend.

The visiting Blues, by contrast, were on the wrong end of a tight result against Glasgow, but are still firmly in the hunt for a place in the PRO14 play-offs. Despite that loss in the Welsh capital, their head coach John Mulvihill will be buoyed by star performances from the likes of Aled Summerhill and Owen Lane, both of whom will be crucial to the Welsh side’s hopes on Saturday.

In the other late kick-off on Saturday, Ulster welcome Zebre to the Kingspan Stadium. Narrow victors away to the Ospreys in round 15, Dan McFarland’s side come into the clash on the back of a four-game unbeaten streak and have tasted defeat just once in Belfast over the past 12 months.

With just two points separating Ulster from Edinburgh in second, the hosts will look to take a big step towards final series qualification against the Italians. Zebre, for their part, have gone without a win since round 7, but can at least point to one positive omen ahead of the match, the men from Parma taking bragging rights the last time the two teams met back in 2017.

Round 16’s final game sees the Scarlets take on the Cheetahs on Sunday afternoon. The Welsh region have won just one of their last six matches, yet can rely upon a formidable home record that has seen them lose just once since the opening round of the 2016/17 campaign. The touring Cheetahs saw their own winning run come to an end in Galway and will need to improve on their form outside of South Africa if they are to take the spoils in south Wales.


Friday, February 22 –

Glasgow Warriors (2nd, Con A) v CONNACHT (3rd, Con A), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 2/deferred eir Sport 1&2/highlights TG4)

Ospreys (4th, Con A) v MUNSTER (1st, Con A), Liberty Stadium, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 2/TG4)

LEINSTER (1st, Con B) v Isuzu Southern Kings (7th, Con B), the RDS, 7.55pm (live eir Sport 1/Free Sports/SuperSport 1/deferred Premier Sports 2)

Saturday, February 23 –

Benetton Rugby (3rd, Con B) v Dragons (6th, Con B), Stadio di Monigo, 2pm local time (live Premier Sports 1/DAZN/S4C/eir Sport 1&2)

Edinburgh (2nd, Con B) v Cardiff Blues (5th, Con A), BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 2/SuperSport 1)

ULSTER (4th, Con B) v Zebre (7th, Con A), Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm (live Free Sports/DAZN/deferred Premier Sports 2)

Sunday, February 24 –

Scarlets (5th, Con B) v Toyota Cheetahs (6th, Con A), Parc y Scarlets, 1pm (live Premier Sports 1/SuperSport 1/eir Sport 1&2)



Sam Davies (Ospreys) 124
Jack Carty (Connacht) 119
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 96
Masixole Banda (Isuzu Southern Kings) 96
Tian Schoeman (Toyota Cheetahs) 86


Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 11
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 8
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) 7
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 7
Luke Morgan (Ospreys) 7
Yaw Penxe (Isuzu Southern Kings) 7
Shaun Venter (Toyota Cheetahs) 7


Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 996
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 883
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 873
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 826
Jordan Williams (Dragons) 775


Bill Mata (Edinburgh) 205
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 143
Luke Hamilton (Edinburgh) 142
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 141
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 141


Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 26
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 22
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 20
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 19
Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) 16
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) 16


Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 57
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 52
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 39
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) 38
Kyle Godwin (Connacht) 34


Tom Farrell (Connacht) 24
Iliesa Ratuva (Benetton Rugby) 19
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 17
Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby) 16
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 16
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 16


Olly Cracknell (Ospreys) 188
Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 185
John-Charles Astle (Isuzu Southern Kings) 177
Tienie Burger (Isuzu Southern Kings) 172
Nick Timoney (Ulster) 168


Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 22
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 17
Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues) 16
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) 16
Gerhardus Olivier (Toyota Cheetahs) 14


Junior Sipato Pokomela (Toyota Cheetahs) 7
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 6
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 6
James King (Ospreys) 6
George Biagi (Zebre) 5
JP du Preez (Toyota Cheetahs) 5
Cory Hill (Dragons) 5
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) 5
Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 5
Scott Fardy (Leinster) 5
Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby) 5

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