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GUINNESS PRO14: Round 19 Preview

GUINNESS PRO14: Round 19 Preview

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony is pictured on the attack during the province's meeting with Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park back in September ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The Heineken Champions Cup last-eight clashes saw Leinster and Munster come from behind to secure semi-final berths. The PRO14 returns this weekend with two matches on Friday, four on Saturday and one on Sunday.

In the current Championship standings, Glasgow Warriors still hold a slight advantage over Munster in Conference A, while Conference B winners Leinster still plough on with their home semi-final already in the bag. It looks to be going right down to the wire for second place behind Leinster. Benetton and Ulster should both be wary of Edinburgh as well as each other, especially as the latter two play each other in round 20.

The focus is narrowing on the 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. As things currently stand, the fixtures for the PRO14 final series and Champions Cup play-off would be:


Quarter-Final 1: MUNSTER (A2) v Benetton Rugby (B3)
Quarter-Final 2: ULSTER (B2) v CONNACHT (A3)

Semi-Final 1: LEINSTER (B1) v MUNSTER/Benetton
Semi-Final 2: Glasgow Warriors (A1) v ULSTER/CONNACHT

Champions Cup Play-Off: Cardiff Blues (A4, 52 points) v Edinburgh (B4, 47 points)

The weekend kicks off with Glasgow Warriors v Ulster at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday. Glasgow have a play-off place secured but are battling Munster for top spot in Conference A. Ulster have three teams breathing down their necks in the race for second and third spots in Conference B, but currently lead the charge by four points. They prevailed 36-15 against Glasgow in Belfast last April, taking their head-to-head to 17-14.

The other Friday night kick-off is across the Irish Sea in Cork city – Munster v Cardiff Blues. Johann van Graan’s men are looking to down Glasgow for top spot, while Cardiff aim to pip Connacht to the last Conference A final series spot. The higher-placed side, Munster, has won 18 of their 31 previous match-ups, but the Blues came out on top, 37-13, in the Welsh capital last September.

Cardiff come into this one in slightly better form, having beaten the Scarlets, the Isuzu Southern Kings and Edinburgh in their last three Championship matches, while Champions Cup semi-finalists Munster lost to the Scarlets in between victories over the Ospreys and Zebre.

Saturday’s PRO14 action commences with Toyota Cheetahs v Ospreys at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein. In just three previous meetings the Cheetahs have won one to the Ospreys’ two. Most recently, the Welshmen won 46-14 at home in September. There is little but pride riding on this one as the Cheetahs are already out of the final series equation while the Ospreys would need to win all three of their remaining games, and have neither Cardiff nor Connacht pick up one win from their own three remaining matches.

Connacht travel to Parma to play Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, the two teams have met on 13 occasions with the westerners lead the head-to-head 10-3. September’s meeting saw Andy Friend’s charges triumph 32-13. Zebre have still not added to their three victories all season, while Connacht have beaten Benetton and the Ospreys since losing to Glasgow in February. If Connacht win and Munster beat Cardiff then Friend’s side will have their best chance of progressing to the play-offs.

The Scarlets have to win against Edinburgh to keep themselves in the running for Conference B’s second spot. Mathematically, Edinburgh have some leeway but if the Scarlets win, then they would go above Edinburgh and the Scots would have three teams above them in the race for second spot going into the final two rounds.

These sides share a very close head-to-head record, Edinburgh just edging it 16-14 in their previous 31 encounters. Scotland’s capital outfit also won their most recent clash, 31-21, at BT Murrayfield in November. Interestingly, despite having lost two more of their previous matches, the Scarlets have scored a massive 11 more tries than Edinburgh.

Also on Saturday, two of the top three in Conference B do battle as Leinster entertain Benetton at the RDS. The table toppers are well clear and Benetton will arrive with clear intentions of repeating last year’s surprise win in Dublin. Leinster will be eager to build momentum after their European success against Ulster and already this season they have handled Benetton comfortably with a 31-3 victory in Treviso back in October.

The Sunday fixture will be played at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth where the match-up between the Isuzu Southern Kings and the Dragons will go a long way to deciding who avoids finishing bottom in Conference B. Only once in the past three meetings have the Kings prevailed, but the Dragons edged a high-scoring match, 27-22, at Rodney Parade in September.


Friday, April 5 –

Glasgow Warriors (1st, Con A) v ULSTER (2nd, Con B), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 2/DAZN/highlights TG4)

MUNSTER (2nd, Con A) v Cardiff Blues (4th, Con A), Irish Independent Park, 7.35pm (live TG4/eir Sport 1/Premier Sports 2/S4C/DAZN)

Saturday, April 6 –

Toyota Cheetahs (6th, Con A) v Ospreys (5th, Con A), Toyota Stadium, 5.30pm local time (live Premier Sports 2/SuperSport 1/DAZN)

Zebre (7th, Con A) v CONNACHT (3rd, Con A), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time (live eir Sport 1/DAZN/highlights TG4)

Scarlets (5th, Con B) v Edinburgh (4th, Con B), Parc y Scarlets, 6.45pm (live Premier Sports 2/DAZN)

LEINSTER (1st, Con B) v Benetton Rugby (3rd, Con B), the RDS, 7.45pm (live TG4/eir Sport 1/DAZN)

Sunday, April 7 –

Isuzu Southern Kings (6th, Con B) v Dragons (7th, Con B), Madibaz Stadium, 3pm local time (live Free Sports/Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 2/SuperSport 1&CSN/DAZN)



Jack Carty (Connacht) 129
Sam Davies (Ospreys) 126
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 112
Masixole Banda (Isuzu Southern Kings) 103
Tian Schoeman (Toyota Cheetahs) 96


Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 13
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 8
Yaw Penxe (Isuzu Southern Kings) 8
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 8
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 7
Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues) 7
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) 7
Luke Morgan (Ospreys) 7
Shaun Venter (Toyota Cheetahs) 7


Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 1011
Dan Evans (Ospreys) 1009
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 1005
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 936
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 925


Bill Mata (Edinburgh) 244
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 184
Dan Evans (Ospreys) 167
Ruan Lerm (Isuzu Southern Kings) 162
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 161


Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 28
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 23
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 23
Paul Asquith (Scarlets) 21
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 20


Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) 61
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 58
Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby) 50
Dan Evans (Ospreys) 47
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) 46


Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby) 28
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 27
Iliesa Ratuva (Benetton Rugby) 26
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) 22
Marco Barbini (Benetton Rugby) 21


Tienie Burger (Isuzu Southern Kings) 246
Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 230
Olly Cracknell (Ospreys) 230
John-Charles Astle (Isuzu Southern Kings) 225
Nick Timoney (Ulster) 218


Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 24
Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues) 20
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) 18
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 17
Gerhardus Olivier (Toyota Cheetahs) 16


Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 7
Junior Sipato Pokomela (Toyota Cheetahs) 7
James King (Ospreys) 7
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 6
Scott Fardy (Leinster) 6
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 6

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