Weekend preview: Blockbuster in Bloemfontein while Dragons look to build momentum

Peter White
08 October 2019

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Records were broken and history was made in Round 2 of the Guinness PRO14 season, and seven more breath-taking fixtures are set to tell more stories in week three.

A Championship-record 53 tries were scored as the fresh campaign continued in entertaining fashion, with Toyota Cheetahs, Leinster, Munster, Edinburgh and Scarlets all maintaining their 100 percent starts.

At least two of those records will be surrendered in Round 3 however, while five teams remain winless and will be determined to get some vital points on the board. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

FRIDAY

Toyota Cheetahs v Munster Rugby

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein | KO 17:15 UK / 18:15 SA | Live: SuperSport 6, eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 1, DAZN – Broadcast partners

Toyota Cheetahs have signalled their play-off intentions from the off, racking up a mammoth 16 tries and 111 points in the first two rounds – including a 63-26 win over Ulster last time out.

They are a tough side to beat on South African soil but in Conference B leaders Munster, they face a challenging test against a team who also have two wins from two so far.

Johann van Graan’s side battled to a 31-20 triumph over Isuzu Southern Kings in Round 2 and if they leave Bloemfontein with a victory, that will be as successful a South African road trip as they could have wished for.


Dragons v Connacht Rugby

Rodney Parade, Newport | KO 19:35 UK | Live: Premier Sports 2, S4C, TG4 (exclusive), DAZN – Broadcast partners

Dragons head into this game on a massive high as a 52-28 victory over Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi was their first away win in the Guinness PRO14 since March 2015.

New coach Dean Ryan admitted afterwards that the triumph was a huge monkey off their back and his side could well play with a renewed freedom as they head back home to Rodney Parade.

Connacht will hardly be a pushover however, as they brushed aside Benetton in Round 2 – cruising to a 41-5 success and rubber-stamping the new Championship single-round try record by crossing on six occasions.

Leinster Rugby v Edinburgh Rugby

RDS Arena, Dublin | KO 19:35 UK | Live: eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 1, DAZN, SuperSport 6 – Broadcast partners

Defending champions Leinster have looked ominously good so far, even though many of their stars are currently at the World Cup.

They blew the cobwebs off with a gritty win at Benetton Rugby before putting up more than 50 points in a home success against Ospreys.

Edinburgh are similarly undefeated and have a handsome win of their own in the locker, with a comfortable opening-day 50-15 success over Zebre.

But it was an eight-point victory at Cardiff Blues in Round 2 that will perhaps please head coach Richard Cockerill most, a result which proves they have a steel as well as substance.

SATURDAY

Scarlets v Zebre

Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli | KO 15:00 UK / 16:00 ITA | Live: FreeSports, eir Sport 2, DAZN – Broadcast partners

The Brad Mooar era has got off to an electric start at Scarlets and the 2016-17 champions will be confident of a third win on the spin against Zebre this week.

Scarlets have seen off Connacht and Glasgow Warriors thus far, the latter on the road in a performance of real steel.

Up front, they have benefited from Rob Evans and Samson Lee’s omission by the Wales national side, while Steff Evans has been outstanding on the wing, and Johnny McNicholl has picked up right where he left off last year.

In contrast, Zebre have bruises to tend to. They are yet to win in 2019 and were beaten at home by Dragons last weekend.

Isuzu Southern Kings v Ulster Rugby

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth | KO 15.00 UK / 16:00 SA | Live: SuperSport 2, eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, DAZN – Broadcast partners

Isuzu Southern Kings have not won a Guinness PRO14 match since January and face a tall task against an Ulster side desperate to set the record straight.

Ulster went down heavily to the Kings’ South African rivals Toyota Cheetahs, shipping 63 points to the Championship’s in-form attack.

Worryingly for Ulster, the Kings also have pace in abundance and, in scrum-half Stefan Ungerer, a major try-scoring threat.

Ulster have plenty of those too though, with Craig Gilroy – back in the side after 11 months out through injury – crossing three times in two games so far.

Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues

Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow | KO 19:35 UK | Live: eir Sport 2, Premier Sports 1, DAZN, SuperSport 2 – Broadcast partners

Both sides go into the match licking their wounds, and the Warriors will hope for a better result than when they last hosted a Welsh region, with Scarlets having taken the spoils in last weekend’s thriller.

Glasgow were outplayed for much of that battle but fought back impressively, with centre Huw Jones showing glimpses of the form that turned him into one of the Guinness PRO14’s most devastating centres.

The Blues also suffered a home defeat on Saturday, as Edinburgh left the Welsh capital with an eight-point win, and John Mulvihill’s men will be eager to get back on track at Scotstoun.

Ospreys v Benetton Rugby

Liberty Stadium, Swansea | KO 19:35 UK / 20:35 ITA | Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, S4C, DAZN – Broadcast partners

Ospreys and Benetton Rugby are both in need of an early-season boost and at least one of them will get that when they square off in Swansea this week.

Ospreys have opened with a pair of heavy away defeats to Ulster and defending champions Leinster, while Benetton have also been on the wrong end of a result against the title holders, before Connacht left them down in the dumps.

Both sides’ last victory came in Round 21 last season, a result which secured Benetton a spot in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series for the first time.


Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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