Guinness PRO14: Ten must-see fixtures

Charlie Peat
25 July 2018

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The countdown for the start of the Guinness PRO14 is now well and truly on after the announcement of the fixtures this week.

Leinster will be out to defend their title having downed Scarlets in a pulsating final last season but they’ll face stiff competition from the remaining 13 outfits.

And following the fixture list announcement – we thought we’d pick out 10 fixtures that you simply cannot miss during the 2018-19 campaign.

Round 1: Cardiff Blues v Leinster (Live on Premier Sports 2 & eir sport 1 & TG4)

The opening night of the Guinness PRO14 promises to be an absolute classic when defending champions Leinster head to Cardiff Arms Park to take on Cardiff Blues.

Leinster completed the double last season when they lifted the Guinness PRO14 crown and the European Champions Cup in Bilbao.

But they come up against a Blues side that will be itching to hit the ground running after losing in the opening three rounds of last season.

Round 2: Scarlets v Leinster (Live on Premier Sports, eir sport & TG4)

The Guinness PRO14 will only be a week old but that’s when we see a repeat of last season’s show stopping final.

Scarlets were beaten 40-32 at the Aviva Stadium as they failed to defend their crown at the final hurdle.

But this is a new season and new chance to settle an old score as Leinster head to Parc Y Scarlets in early September.

Round 5: Edinburgh Rugby v Benetton (Live on Premier Sports & eir sport)

If last season’s tremendous encounter is anything to go by then we should be in for another belter at BT Murrayfield.

A Chris Dean double was cancelled out by a magnificent Angelo Esposito brace in September 2017 as an Ian McKinley penalty proved to be the difference in a pulsating 20-17 victory.

Edinburgh eventually finished above their Italian counterparts in Conference B and victory here could go a long way into shaping another intriguing season.

Round 6: Dragons v Cardiff Blues (Live on Premier Sports and eir sport)

A vociferous Welsh derby is always expected at Rodney Parade and the clash between these regions on October 6 should be no different.

The two fixtures between these Welsh giants were not short of entertainment last season as the Blues prevailed in both fixtures – winning 22-17 at Rodney Parade on Boxing Day 2017.

Nevertheless, the Dragons will be hoping to improve on their record of just two victories from last campaign and a win over their great rivals will be just the boost they need.

Round 10: Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets (Live on Premier Sports, S4C & eir sport)

The Scarlets produced one of their best performances in this very fixture in last season’s Final Series classic.

The Welsh region headed to Scotstoun to face the Warriors who topped Conference A and had their eyes firmly set on a date with Dublin.

But the Scarlets had other intentions as three first half tries stunned the Warriors and snatched a 28-13 victory. Revenge will firmly be on the agenda come December 1.

Round 12: Munster v Leinster (Live on eir sport and Premier sport)

A Christmas time classic signs off 2018 as this titanic rivalry gets set for another chapter.

Leinster dominated proceedings between the two Irish provinces last year, winning all three of their clashes last season including a Final Series semi-final – edging out the Munstermen 16-15.

Munster’s last victory in this fixture came two seasons ago but anything can happen in this unpredictable and gargantuan tie.

Round 12: Connacht v Ulster (Live on TG4, eir sport & Premier Sports)

Our second instalment on derby weekend comes in the shape of Connacht against Ulster as the duo face off on Friday, December 28 at 7.35pm.

Eoghan Masterson and Bundee Aki got the ball rolling in this entertaining fixture last time around as Connacht downed Ulster 44-16.

Ulster won the return fixture at the Kingspan meaning a clash between these two Irish provinces is finely poised.

Round 14: Toyota Cheetahs v Zebre (Live on Super Sport & Premier Sport)

The Toyota Cheetahs had a formidable home record last season, losing just two matches to the Glasgow Warriors and Munster.

This clash against Zebre will conjure fine memories for the Cheetahs as they downed the Italians to seal a maiden PRO14 victory in style.

A whopping 13 tries were shared between the two sides as the Cheetahs prevailed 54-39 at the Toyota Stadium, making this an instant classic to look out for on January 26.

Round 15: Ospreys v Ulster (Live on Premier Sports & eir sport)

The business end will fast be approaching when Ulster head to the Liberty Stadium to take on Ospreys.

These two sides faced off in the European Champions Cup play-off in May last season as Craig Gilroy struck twice to put Ospreys to the sword at the Kingspan.

Both these sides ambitions of finishing higher in their conferences and whoever comes out on top could be on their way to a Champions Cup spot.

Round 21: Toyota Cheetahs v Southern Kings

The final day of the season always throws up plenty of high drama and surprises.

There are plenty of derbies taking place but Toyota Cheetahs against Southern Kings is one to keep an eye on.

The Cheetahs will be looking for another trip to the Final Series with Southern Kings desperate to improve on their solitary victory from last time out.

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