Round 11: Domestic action returns to take centre-stage

Andy Baber
11 February 2020

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It’s been a while, but after the excitement of the second weekend of Six Nations it’s time for the Guinness PRO14 to return to centre-stage once again. Round 11 sees some intriguing ties take place, with clubs across the Championship looking to take crucial points.

Round 10 will be some act to follow after Guinness PRO14 sides treated us to a feast of excellent rugby way back in early January, while we’ve also had the excitement of two South African derbies since then. Back at the start of the year runaway Conference A leaders Leinster kept their 100 per cent record running with a comprehensive 54-7 defeat of Connacht in front of 18,300 spectators.

Elsewhere, an all-Welsh clash between Cardiff Blues and Scarlets ended with the latter getting the better of their hosts with a 16-14 victory at Cardiff Arms Park. There were resounding wins for Edinburgh and Zebre as they dismissed Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs 61-13 and 41-13 respectively.

The Kingspan Stadium saw 17,461 fans turnout to watch Ulster take on Munster in what proved to be an entertaining clash. It was the home side who eventually came out on top as they secured a 38-17 success which leaves them second in Conference A.

It was also a productive round for Glasgow Warriors and Dragons, and they come into round 11 on the back of victories against Benetton Rugby and Ospreys respectively.

With plenty to play for heading into the business end of the season, the importance of picking up points will only grow in the coming weeks, starting with round 11.

FRIDAY

Glasgow Warriors v Zebre

Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow | KO 19.35 | Live on Premier Sports 1, DAZN, pro14.tv

Glasgow Warriors look to extend their impressive run of results against Italian sides when they take on Zebre at Scotstoun. They have lost just once in their past 31 meetings with teams from Italy and have won five on the spin against Zebre.

A 31-7 loss when they hosted Warriors in November will do little to imbue Zebre with confidence, but they do come into the match on the back of three wins in a row in all competitions. George Horne has been Glasgow’s main threat with five tries this term and the Scots will look to make it 16 wins from 16 against Zebre.

Munster v Isuzu Southern Kings

Irish Independent Park, Cork | KO 19:35 | Live on Premier Sports 2, eir Sport 1, SuperSport 1, DAZN, pro14.tv

Munster are in huge need of a Guinness PRO14 victory after a run of just one win in their last four. Defeat would see them lose three in a row at home for the first time since February 2016.

Their opponents on Friday night have serious concerns of their own and come into the match with a solitary win to their name this term, which came away at Ospreys in Round 6. They failed to lay a glove on Munster on their last visit to Independent Park, suffering a 43-0 defeat.

The Kings are rooted to the foot of the Conference B table, while Munster sit a point adrift of second place Scarlets.

SATURDAY

Leinster v Toyota Cheetahs

RDS Arena, Dublin | KO 14:30 | Live on Premier Sports, eir sport, DAZN, pro14.tv

Leinster’s imperious form this term has them in the hunt for an historic unblemished campaign and they have won every game they have played this season. That class has taken them comfortably to the top of the Conference A table with a Nadia Comăneci style 10 from 10.

A daunting task for Cheetahs is made all the more challenging when their history in Ireland is considered and they are yet to avoid defeat in seven Championship visits to the province.

They lost 19-7 in their last outing at RDS Arena but, sit third in the table and will hope to provide a serious test for their hosts boosted by their pair of derby wins.

Scarlets v Edinburgh

Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli | KO 15:00 | Live on Premier Sports 1, DAZN, pro14.tv

There will be plenty at stake when the top two sides in Conference B meet in Wales as Scarlets attempt to usurp Edinburgh at the summit. The hosts are three points adrift of Edinburgh and enjoy a formidable home record.

However, their most recent home loss came at the hands of Saturday’s opposition when Edinburgh claimed a 20-12 victory last April.

Scarlets will look to Josh Macleod, who has a Championship high 14 turnovers this term, to lead their defensive effort while Duhan van der Merwe will hope to add to his 18 clean breaks for Edinburgh.

Ospreys v Ulster

Liberty Stadium, Swansea | KO 17:15 | Live on Premier Sports 1, eir Sport 1, SuperSport 1, DAZN, pro14.tv

In what looks to be an intriguing match-up, bottom Conference A club Ospreys meet second place Ulster. The home side haven’t won a game since a 24-20 defeat of Benetton in October, which is their only victory all season.

Ulster’s only defeat to Ospreys since December 2014 was 24-10 at Liberty Stadium in April 2017, and they will be confident of adding to Welsh woes with a win which will keep them clear of the chasing pack in second.

The pairs’ last meeting ended in a resounding 38-14 victory for Ulster and Ospreys will look for fast improvements on a defence that has thus far leaked 281 points.

Connacht v Cardiff Blues

The Sportsground, Galway| KO 19:35 | Live on Premier Sports 2, TG4, DAZN, pro14.tv

A battle between fourth and fifth in Conference B will see Cardiff Blues attempt to become the first Welsh side since 2017 to taste victory at the Sportsground. Repeating their success of three years ago would be enough to take Blues above their rivals in the Conference B table.

A run of patchy form has seen Connacht take 10 points from their last five games whereas Cardiff Blues have taken 18 from the corresponding fixtures, John Mulvihill’s men will feel they can get the better of their rivals on Saturday.

Blues suffered a narrow defeat to Scarlets last time out but had previously won three games on the spin in the Guinness PRO14.

Dragons v Benetton

Rodney Parade, Newport | KO 19:45 | Live on Premier Sports 1, DAZN, pro14.tv

The hosts come into the game with history against them after a run of just one win in their last seven meetings with Italian side Benetton.

However, strong home form this term – they have lost just twice in all competitions at Rodney Parade – gives Dean Ryan’s men plenty of reason to be positive.

Benetton have the better form of the two sides and have claimed 16 points from their last five outings to move to within a point of fifth in the Conference B table.

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