Weekend in Focus: Round 6

Peter White
07 November 2019

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With the fixtures now coming thick and fast and international stars gradually filtering their way back into the Guinness PRO14, Round 6 promises another feast of mouth-watering action across seven tantalising ties.

Two enticing match-ups get the weekend underway on Friday night, before five fixtures on Saturday, with the action concluding in with what will surely be a hotly-contested affair in Llanelli.

As both Conference tables gradually take shape, time is of the essence for those teams hoping for a play-off push, and with unbeaten records and the hunt for elusive wins still at stake, there is once again all to play for.

FRIDAY

Connacht v Leinster Rugby

The Sportsground, Galway | KO 19:35 | Live on eir sport 1, Premier Sport 2, TG4, DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

Two of the early pace-setters in this year’s competition meet in one of the most enticing fixtures of the weekend on Friday evening, with Leinster looking to extend their 100 per cent start to the season.

Leo Cullen’s men have dropped just one bonus point so far and swept aside Dragons convincingly 50-15 last time out, but the defending champions know a trip to Galway is likely to be the toughest test they have faced so far.

Connacht are unbeaten in four since defeat on the opening weekend and have been earmarked as one of the teams to watch this season, so will be confident they can get their own back for a 20-3 defeat in this fixture last season.

Player to look out for: James Lowe – Leinster Rugby

Following their low-scoring triumph over winless Zebre in Round 4, Lowe chipped in with two scores to help Leinster get back to their free-scoring best last weekend and he will be looking to add to his tally here.

Fast fact: Connacht have not won five Guinness PRO14 matches in a row since their Championship winning season in 2015/16.

Edinburgh Rugby v Dragons

BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh | KO 19:35 | Live on eir Sport 2, Premier Sports 1, SuperSport 1, DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

Having been edged 18-16 in their last fixture away at Benetton, Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh will be eager to get back to winning ways when they welcome Dragons to Murrayfield in Friday’s other fixture.

The omens look to be in the Scotsmen’s favour, as they have two wins from two at home so far this campaign – against Zebre and Scarlets – scoring seven tries in each.

But Dragons – who have two wins and three defeats so far – look a different animal under Dean Ryan and having fallen at the hands of defending champions Leinster in Round 5, will be more hopeful of a result here.

Player to look out for: Adam Warren – Dragons

Dragons will need to strike a perfect balance of attack and defence if they are to get a result in Edinburgh, and centre Warren will be looking to build on the 74 metres he gained last time out.

Fast fact: Dragons have won just once away from home in the Championship in the last six seasons – 52-28 at Zebre on October 5.

SATURDAY

Ospreys v Isuzu Southern Kings

Liberty Stadium, Swansea | KO 15:00 (UK), 17:00 (SA) | Live on SuperSport 1, Premier Sports 2, DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

Swansea is primed for a fierce battle between two teams desperate for a result after disappointing starts to the campaign, with only one win to show between them so far.

With a solitary victory over Benetton in Round 3, Ospreys lie sixth in Conference A and will be eager to get back on track in a tie they will be confident of coming out of on top.

The Kings’ winless record continued last time out with a 50-0 reverse at Glasgow Warriors, and they will have to offer much more across the park if they are to claim a first-ever Championship victory on the road.

Player to look out for: Olly Cracknell – Ospreys

With 64 tackles and 51 carries so far this season, the back-rower has been one of the shining lights for Ospreys and will be hoping another strong performance can steer his team to a rare win.

Fast fact: The two sides have met just twice before with Ospreys victorious on both occasions.

Zebre Rugby Club v Glasgow Warriors

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma | KO 15:00 (UK), 16:00 (ITA) | Live on eir sport 2, DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

Another side still chasing a maiden triumph in the fresh Guinness PRO14 campaign, Zebre will have to topple last year’s beaten finalists Glasgow for the first time if they are to end their drought here.

Michael Bradley’s men have shown glimpses of potential in their opening five fixtures, but know they are facing a Warriors side almost back to full strength with many of their 16-strong World Cup contingent back on the scene.

With the likes of Adam Hastings and the Horne brothers having steered their side to a 50-0 win over Southern Kings in Round 5, Glasgow appear close to their best and will be hoping to climb further up the Conference A table with a win in Parma.

Player to look out for: Callum Gibbins – Glasgow Warriors

Dave Rennie knows Gibbins is the kind of experienced campaigner he can rely on, and having made the joint-most tackles in the Guinness PRO14 this season, he will be looking to snuff out any threats from the hosts here.

Fast fact: Zebre have only won one of their last nine matches against Scottish opponents – 34-16 over Edinburgh in October 2018.

Cardiff Blues v Toyota Cheetahs

Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff | KO 17:15 (UK), 19:15 (SA) | Live on eir sport 2, Premier Sports 1, SuperSport 1, S4C, DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

After stumbling to victory over Southern Kings on the opening weekend of the season, the Blues have since fallen to four straight defeats and will be hungry for a return to winning ways at Arms Park.

John Mulvihill’s men fell to a 10-point defeat at home to high-flying Munster in Round 5, but haven’t lost three matches in a row on home soil since December 2016 and will be confident of keeping that record in tact against the stuttering Cheetahs.

Having started the season with three huge wins at home, the South African side have failed to replicate such form on the road and know they will have to produce something special if they are to claim their first away win since January.

Player to look out for: Matthew Morgan – Cardiff Blues

Despite the team’s sluggish form, fullback Morgan has been a shining light in the Blues side, and he will be hoping to replicate last weekend’s eight carries and 79 metres made to gain a valuable win for his team.

Fast fact: The two sides have met on four previous occasions with each match going with home field advantage.

Munster v Ulster Rugby

Thomond Park, Limerick | KO 17:15 | Live on eir sport 1, Premier Sport 2, DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

Two of the Championship high-flyers meet at Thomond Park with both sides vying for a win to boost their league credentials, even at this early stage.

On paper, the clash should be a closely-fought affair, with each side winning four and losing one of their first five games as they look to go one better than the semi-finals this year.

Munster haven’t lost to Ulster on home turf since 2013/14 and will be confident of extending their lead at the top of Conference B, but Dan McFarland’s side will undoubtedly be fired up for their biggest test of the season so far.

Player to look out for: JJ Hanrahan – Munster

Fly-half Hanrahan was in inspired form for the three-time champions last weekend – helping himself to 13 points in the process – and a similar level of game management could swing this tie in his team’s favour.

Fast fact: The Munstermen are unbeaten in their last 24 home games in all tournaments since Leinster beat them at Thomond Park in Round 11 of the 2017/18 Guinness PRO14 season.

Scarlets v Benetton Rugby

Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli | KO 19:35 (UK), 20:35 (ITA) | Live on eir sport 2, Premier Sports 1, SuperSport 1 DAZN, PRO14.tv – Broadcast partners

Scarlets are among the hottest starters this year with just one defeat from five, and with just one loss in nine at Parc y Scarlets the Welshmen will be confident of further consolidating their place at the top end of the Conference B table.

Last year’s quarter-finalists Benetton are a tough team to predict with two wins and three defeats so far, but a 18-16 win over Edinburgh in Round 5 will have given them hope of toppling the 2016/17 champions.

The majority of the Italians’ World Cup contingent have returned to their ranks to boost their credentials, but having won just twice in their last 14 encounters with Scarlets, know they must be at their best if they are to triumph here.

Player to look out for: Johnny McNicholl – Scarlets

The fullback – who has recently qualified for Welsh residency – has been in great form this season and with two tries so far will be hopeful of making things happen for his team once again.

Fast fact: The Italians’ only away victory in their last seven Championship visits was across Italy against Zebre in Parma in April.


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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