RaboDirect PRO12 Round 4 previews
The Friday night lights will shine on a spicy local derby in the Rabo Direct PRO12 this weekend with the defending champions Ospreys at home to the current league leaders the Scarlets.
Llanelli’s finest have got off to a flying start in this year’s league. The Scarlets are unbeaten so far and have added two bonus points to their early season haul. The reigning champions have endured a rocky beginning to their title defence and have failed to register a single win so far this season. It is only round four but the Ospreys will be hoping to put that right against their bitter regional rivals.
Connacht are the first of the Irish sides into action this weekend. Eric Elwood’s side travel to Glasgow to take on the Warriors on Friday night, with their defeat of newboys Zebre the only win to their name at this early point of the campaign. The westerners don’t have the best record on their travels and have won just one of their last three games in Glasgow. The Warriors, meanwhile, will go into the game with confidence, having beaten the Ospreys in Wales last weekend.
Munster and Leinster enter the fray on Saturday. Expect to see more international stars taking to the field as the Irish players continue their phased start to the season. Munster came away from Ravenhill with a losing bonus point after a thrilling game and they will hope to get their season back on track with a win at home in Thomond Park over the Newport Gwent Dragons on Saturday night.
The Dragons have won just once in their last 13 games against Irish sides and their solitary defeat of Munster came eight years ago on their first visit to Limerick. They go into the game on the back of two successive losses.
Leinster had Jonny Sexton to thank for their last gasp victory over Zebre last weekend. Joe Schmidt will want his side to put in a more solid and composed performance when Edinburgh visit the RDS on Saturday evening. The Scottish visitors have also won their last two games on the bounce but haven’t won three in a row since 2010 and have failed to beat Leinster for almost seven years.
Benetton Treviso visit the Cardiff Blues still smarting from their last second defeat at the hands of Leinster last Saturday. The Blues have won all four of the previous encounters between these two teams but have failed to string two league victories together since February.
Ulster’s game away to Zebre has been postponed as a mark of respect following the tragic death of young centre, and one of the brightest rising stars in Irish rugby, Nevin Spence and his father Noel and brother Graham in an accident on their farm last weekend. Nevin and his family will be remembered at every league game this weekend as the players from each team will wear black armbands in their memory.