Guinness Pro14 Round 11 - Betting preview and tips
Benetton Treviso v Zebre
This Italian Derby ought to have more to it than in recent years, with Treviso and Zebre having their best seasons for some considerable period of time. The hosts will actually be annoyed they haven’t managed to get a win in Europe and have been less than a converted try away from two wins in the competition. Two tries in the last three minutes saw the Scarlets break their hearts, along with a long-range penalty for Francois Trinh-Duc taking victory away from them against Toulon.
Zebre actually have more points than Benetton, a surprise in itself, and three wins at this stage of the season is a good return for them; They will need to be sharper than they were when trashed by Gloucester at Kingsholm in the Challenge Cup, though, and the hosts are asked to – and probably capable of – giving up seven points.
Advice: Treviso -7 (10/11 general)
Edinburgh v Glasgow
This is a first for the two Scottish rivals - The 1872 Cup, contested by Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, will follow a "best of three" format this season given the expansion of the tournament. Glasgow’s European woes continued – they lost twice to Montpellier in the doubleheaders following defeat to Exeter and Leinster – but that is the toughest pool in the tournament and domestically they have a 100% record, the only side in Europe to do so after 10 fixtures.
Edinburgh are no slouches through; Under Richard Cockerill they have 6 wins and 28 points, leaving them in the hunt for the playoffs in a campaign that’s already significantly better than last season. This ought to be quite a clash with the Warriors deserved favourites to cover the handicap.
Advice: Glasgow -7 (10/11 general)
Connacht v Ulster
Both sides approach the festival season in good spirits – they won both their European doubleheaders over the last fortnight. Home and away wins against Brive means that Connacht will probably have a home quarter-final in the Challenge Cup whilst Ulster’s two wins against Harlequins, one in a true winter wonderland, give them a chance of making the Quarterfinals of the Champions Cup.
There is an injury blow for the visitors though - Rory Best, Marcell Coetzee, Tommy Bowe and now Charles Piatau are all out.
Bookmakers have Ulster as the three-point favourites in a game that has the potential to be high scoring if the weather holds at The Sportsground.
Dragons v Blues
There’s local pride on the line and a lot of it as the Dragons take on the Blues here. Both have had patchy seasons with Blues fans perhaps more likely to be disappointed with their performance so far this season especially after a promising summer. The Dragons were just beaten by Premiership highflyers Newcastle in the Challenge Cup and will be looking to avenge that defeat whilst the Blues got the better of Sale in the Challenge Cup last time out.
Munster v Leinster
Arguably the game of the round. Two of the European semi-finalists look set to go well in that competition again, with Munster’s double over Leicester suggesting they may have improved from last year, when they made the final of the Pro 14 and then the semi-finals of Europe. They received another couple of boosts when Munster captain Peter O’Mahony signed a new three-year deal although there are rumours of a mega contract for CJ Stander being offered by Montpellier.
Leinster’s double over Premiership Champions Exeter leaves them in pole position in Europe and are they firmly in the running to top their conference, although one gets the feeling that Europe is their main focus of the season. It remains to be seen if Johnny Sexton can make it back, having been taken off early before failing a HIA, so Ross Bryne, who passed his test, could start at flyhalf.
This has all the making of a potential knockout clash in the spring.
Advice: Munster -4 (10/11 general)
Scarlets v Ospreys
Both sides come here having completed doubles in Europe which give them chances of making it through to the quarterfinals. Whilst Scarlets, the defending Champions, are top of Conference B and will probably be focusing on their title retention, Europe appears to be all that the Ospreys have left following their two wins against Northampton that set up a crunch clash with Saracens. Domestic form makes this no contest; The Ospreys have won just two games and have nothing left to look forward to domestically apart from perhaps salving European rugby for next year – but home advantage could make this another long day as the Scarlets look forward to doing the double.
The biggest threat to either tryline might well be Rhys Webb; The scrumhalf is playing with a vengeance since being taken out of Wales recognition and he scored twice against Northampton last week.
Advice: Rhys Webb to score a try.
Guinness Pro14 Stats:
- Edinburgh are the only team with a maximum 20 points from four games in Europe.
- Glasgow are the only team who have won all of their domestic games, however, with 10 straight wins
- Munster and Scarlets have both collected seven bonus points, either for scoring four tries or losing by just two – that’s the most in the league
- With six yellow or red cards, Mike Adamson and Andrew Brace have given the joint most cards so far
- Benetton Treviso’s nine yellow cards are the most of any club in the Pro 14 this season