Leinster vs Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s dreadful Pro12 form continued in defeat at the Kingspan last weekend. An away trip to Leinster is unlikely to provide any easier a task for the visitors. The home side’s strength and depth will continue to serve them well over the 6 Nations period, and they will keep the pressure on the two sides above them in the table, with a pretty comfortable win. Leinster by 15.
Scarlets vs Zebre
The Scarlets recorded an impressive win away at Glasgow last weekend, and with it they leapfrogged the Scotsmen into fourth place. They should consolidate their top four position with a straight forward bonus point victory over the bottom placed side in the Pro12. Scarlets by 32.
Cardiff Blues vs Benetton Treviso
The Blues will be gutted with last week’s home defeat to Connacht; rather than opening up a healthy gap, Cardiff now have the Irishmen breathing down their neck for a Champions Cup slot next season. Italian rugby continues to struggle at a professional level, and despite Cardiff’s erratic Pro12 form, they should be capable of delivering a healthy bonus point win. Cardiff Blues by 21.
Ulster vs Glasgow Warriors
Victory for Ulster on Saturday will lift them to fifth in the table and push Glasgow down a further place in the race for the play-offs. On the evidence so far, it appears that Ulster have greater squad resilience during the 6 Nations than the Warriors, and as such should be able to select a team which offers more robustness up front, and some pretty decent attacking options as well. The Warriors desperately need to address their slide because their fixtures don’t get any easier over the next few weeks. However, with an edge in the forwards, I expect to see the home side pulling away in the second-half. Ulster by 10.
Ospreys vs Munster
Without a doubt this is the game of the day as first plays second; but what a pity that it’s happening at a time when so many top class players are unavailable. Both sides are in fantastic form in both the Pro12 and in European competition, and only a single point separates them in the table. The Ospreys have been racking up the points particularly at home, but Munster’s defence is as mean as they come; so a fascinating battle awaits us. If the home side can get parity up front, then I am taking the Ospreys back-line to do enough to secure a narrow win. Ospreys by 3.
Connacht vs Newport Gwent Dragons
Connacht will be buoyed by their win over the Blues last weekend and will start as clear favourites at home. Aside from the Italians teams and Edinburgh, the Dragons continue to struggle to compete against the other Pro12 sides. The men from Galway look like they will be stronger across almost all areas, so barring an upset they should open up a sizeable gap on the four sides below them. Connacht by 13.
By Keith Mackenzie
Follow Keith on Twitter: @Keith_Mack7