Guinness PRO12 teams claimed more victories in the Champions’ Cup last weekend than their counterparts from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14. In round one, the Guinness PRO12 won four of their six matches, the English clubs three of their six, the French two out of six.
Champions’ Cup – Round 2 (All kick-off times are local)
Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 1 pm
After the tragedy over Anthony Foley’s sudden passing, this will be a Thomond occasion like no other. The Warriors delivered a mighty statement of intent with their five-point thrashing of Leicester Tigers last week but nobody knows how either team will cope with the tides of raw emotion lapping around the fixture.
Saracens v Scarlets, Allianz Park, 5.30 pm.
After brushing Sale aside last week, Scarlets face the biggest test of all against the holders. Saracens played like true champions to end Toulon’s home invincibility last week, leaving the rest in no doubt that they are the team to beat.
Ulster v Exeter Chiefs, Kingspan Stadium, 7.45pm
Ulster will have spent a fair bit of the week kicking themselves for allowing a ten-point lead in Bordeaux last Sunday to dissolve into nothing. Their English opponents, captained by Ulsterman Gareth Steenson, suffered a worse fate, losing heavily at home to Clermont.
Montpellier v Leinster, Altrad Stadium, 2 pm
Leinster were defending their title as European champions when they last appeared in Montpellier, five years ago for a 16-16 draw en-route to another final and the exhilarating win over Ulster at Twickenham. In contrast to Leinster’s emphatic win over Castres in Dublin, their next French opponents dropped a close points verdict to Northampton.
Zebre v Connacht, Stadium Sergio Lanfranchi, 4.15pm
Connacht will hope that lightning does not strike at the same place twice. The September storm responsible for the abandonment of last month’s PRO12 match at the same venue saved them from the threat of imminent defeat. Having come from behind to beat Toulouse, the Guinness PRO12 champions face an Italian team badly beaten at Wasps last week.
Challenge Cup, Round 2:
Cardiff Blues v Pau, BT Arms Park, 7.15pm
The Blues completed a hat-trick of Welsh wins last Friday, beating Bristol at Ashton Gate with something to spare. Now they will settle for nothing less than making it two from two against opponents beaten at home by Bath last week.
Gloucester v Benetton Treviso, Kingsholm, 3pm
Treviso were the only one of five Guinness PRO12 contenders to lose last week, at home to one of the form teams in France, La Rochelle. The Gloucester tie will be their first on English soil in the Challenge Cup since playing Newcastle on Tyneside 14 seasons ago.
Enisei-STM v Newport Gwent Dragons, Trud Stadium, Krasnodar, 3pm
The Dragons make the long, ground-breaking haul to Siberia in buoyant mood after taking all five points against Brive at Rodney Parade last week. They will be mindful that their opponents also got off to a flier, beating Worcester in Moscow.
Edinburgh v Harlequins, Murrayfield, 3.15pm
Edinburgh, beaten narrowly by Gloucester in the Challenge Cup final at Twickenham two seasons ago, opened their campaign with an away win over the Romanians, Timisoara Saracens. Quins, bonus-point winners over Stade Francais at The Stoop last week, have already been to four Challenge Cup finals.
Lyon v Ospreys, Matmut Stadium, 8.45pm
Both started with thumping wins last week – Ospreys 45-0 against Newcastle in Swansea, Lyon 39-13 in Grenoble against last season’s beaten finalists. The winner will be set fair for the last eight.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final