Peter Jackson provides his clues to Round 11 of the Guinness PRO12, starting with an intriguing clash between Benetton Treviso and Zebre.
Friday December 23:
Benetton Treviso v Zebre, Stadio Monigo, kick-off 6.35pm
Treviso ought to be fired up more than usual by all the reminders that they finished last year and started this one the same way, losing to Zebre. A home win, therefore, is overdue if only because Treviso have to go all the way back to late September for their last one in the PRO12, against the Dragons. This time Kieran Crowley’s team are looking for a rare hat-trick following their Challenge Cup double against Bayonne.
— Benetton Rugby (@BenettonRugby) December 19, 2016
Ulster v Connacht, Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 7.35pm
Connacht ended a four-match losing run against their northern neighbours in early October, the champions’ producing a performance worthy of their status to take the maximum five points. Ulster, victorious in their Champions’ Cup classic against Clermont last time out in Belfast, need to make up ground lost in their most recent duel against provincial opposition, Munster. The visitors turned imminent defeat into the narrowest of wins thanks to Rory Scannell’s late drop goal.
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) December 21, 2016
Monday December 26:
Cardiff Blues v Newport Gwent Dragons, BT Arms Park, kick-off 2.05pm
Dragons make the shortest of trips for their most local of derbies acutely aware that their away record could do with some improving to say the least. They have lost all five PRO12 matches on the road and taken just the one losing bonus point, from the Scarlets. The Blues, in urgent need of improving a PRO12 run of one win from the last six, expect to be reinforced by Sam Warburton’s return from injury.
— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) December 19, 2016
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors, BT Murrayfield, kick-off 4.05pm
In their run to the play-offs last season as defending champions, the Warriors lost just four times in 17 matches. Half those defeats were inflicted by Edinburgh over the same festive period last year – 23-11 at Murrayfield and 14-11 at the same venue when a waterlogged Scotstoun forced the Warriors to abandon home ground. Almost 25,000 witnessed the first match and the fans flocking back this time will expect to see another belter.
Get your tickets from https://t.co/HhV99jpFtz
— Glasgow Warriors 🏉 (@GlasgowWarriors) December 21, 2016
Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, kick-off 5.30pm
First against second with Munster on top only by the shortest of heads. No wonder it’s a 25,600 sell-out. Leinster, on track for the last eight of the Champions’ Cup after their double rout of Northampton, know this will be an entirely different ball game. Imposing is a word that scarcely does justice to Munster’s recent record in their Limerick citadel – 38-0 against Leicester, 46-3 against Treviso, 49-5 against Zebre, 28-14 against Edinburgh. And they saw the Ospreys off, 33-0, in Cork. Average home score per game – 39. Something’s got to give.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 19, 2016
Tuesday December 27
Ospreys v Scarlets, Liberty Stadium, kick-off 3.00pm
— Ospreys (@ospreys) December 21, 2016
Third against fourth will guarantee the Ospreys their best attendance of the season so far. Two landslide jaunts in Europe at the expense of Grenoble brought Ospreys another 20 tries on top of the 45 from their ten outings in the PRO12. The Scarlets, fresh from Sunday’s historic win over Toulon, make the short journey eastwards across the River Loughor into Ospreylia in pursuit of an eighth straight PRO12 win, a run stretching all the way back to September.
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