Five big questions heading into Round 6

Ross Lawson
06 November 2019

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Conference tables are beginning to take shape as Round 6 of the Guinness PRO14 prepares to roll into town.

And it is fair to say fans have now got enough information to start forming early judgements of their teams, with Leinster leading the way in Conference A and Munster, Connacht and Scarlets duking it out at the business end of Conference B.

With all that in mind, here are five of the biggest questions on supporters’ lips as we head into Round 6.

Can the defending champions remain unbeaten?

Leo Cullen’s men really have started as they mean to go on this season, sending out a series of deafening statements of intent to sit five wins from five at the top of Conference A.

And they’ve shown that they’re not just about free-flowing, try-scoring rugby, grinding out 32-27 and 3-0 wins in Italy against Benetton and Zebre to demonstrate their steely credentials.

But Round 6 unequivocally represents their hardest test to date. Cullen’s players travel to Connacht on Friday, nevertheless buoyed by the return of their roster of international stars – 14 in total – and Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose among them.

And, with Andy Friend’s team marking themselves out as an early contender in their closely-contested conference after five weeks, Leinster will have to be at their best to maintain their flawless Guinness PRO14 record.

Will one of Munster, Connacht or Scarlets slip up?

It is Munster, Connacht and Scarlets who have set the early pace in Conference B so far, sitting on 20, 19 and 17 points respectively and with four wins apiece from their opening five matches.

But with a round of tantalising fixtures looming, will that three-team cluster remain intact come Sunday morning?

Johann van Graan’s Munstermen showed their grit and determination to grind out a 33-23 win against the Cardiff Blues last weekend, while Connacht were victorious at Ospreys and Scarlets got back to winning ways in Llanelli against Toyota Cheetahs.

However, with a trio of sides surely not being able to continue matching each other’s results for an extended period, who will be the first to blink as this Guinness PRO14 season really starts to hot up?

Can Cheetahs get back to winning ways?

Franco Smith’s Cheetahs were the early pace-setters in Conference A, in rampant try-scoring form against Glasgow Warriors, Ulster and Munster, but two tough trips away from South Africa and they have come unstuck.

Some question whether Cheetahs are the real deal, whether they rely on fortress Bloemfontein as their main points-scoring hub.

But Smith and co would argue otherwise, citing glimmers of that early brilliance against Scarlets in Round 5 and a close-run defeat to Connacht as evidence they have what it takes to export their home form to Europe when they visit.

With another stern away test to Cardiff Blues beckoning, whether or not they will overcome such a battle will make for fascinating viewing.

Will Zebre or ISUZU Southern Kings get their first win on the board?

At the other end of the conference tables, it’s Zebre and ISUZU Southern Kings who are the only two sides yet to pick up a win during this Guinness PRO14 season.

And both have been on the receiving end of several heavy defeats so far, conceding 181 and 190 points respectively – an average of 36.2 and 38 per game – and struggling to keep teams out in the competition’s early stages.

But the Kings will travel to Ospreys this weekend, a side similarly struggling for points – they have just one win so far – and a game Dean Davids and his men will surely be targeting as a prime opportunity for points.

Meanwhile, Zebre will play host to a Warriors team with just two victories, but coming off the back of a 50-0 triumph over Kings in Round 5, with head coach Michael Bradley in urgent need of a swift pick-up in form.

What’s happening at Edinburgh?

Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh have experienced a peculiar start to their Guinness PRO14 campaign, seeing off Zebre, Cardiff and Scarlets but coming unstuck against Leinster – no disgrace, especially at the RDS Arena – and more surprisingly in Treviso last weekend.

Benetton’s triumph on Saturday would have left Cockerill scratching his head, failing to get past a team with just one Guinness PRO14 win this season ahead of the fixture.

Perhaps it was the environment of being under the Italian lights, but a result like that inevitably elicits questions about the extent to which the Scottish side are serious contenders this campaign.

But as Dragons prepare to travel to Murrayfield – where Cockerill’s team have a 100 per cent record this season – they will be eyeing a return to winning ways.


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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