Guinness PRO12 2016/17: Round 20 Predictions


Glasgow Warriors vs Zebre

Following Glasgow’s narrow defeat to Munster last weekend, there is now little left for Gregor Townsend’s men to play for this season. Zebre, however, are involved in their perennial dog-fight to avoid bottom position, and in doing so pick up a Champions Cup slot for next season. With this in mind, the Italian visitors should come out all guns blazing in an attempt to cause a mighty upset. I don’t see this happening though; even a Warriors side with only pride to play for, should be far too strong for Zebre. Glasgow Warriors by 22.

Cardiff Blues vs Ospreys

The Ospreys have stumbled a bit over recent weeks having previously looked to be comfortable qualifiers for the play-offs. Now they find themselves in a fight with Scarlets and Ulster for the two remaining slots (assuming Leinster and Munster keep their distance at the top of the table). The Blues draw away to Ulster last week proved there is still some spirit in the camp, but given the importance of a win for the Ospreys and a backline which offers a touch more threat, I’m expecting the visitors to bag the points. Ospreys by 6.

Munster vs Ulster

Ulster have a tough run-in, and after dropping points at home to the Blues last week, will probably have to win two out of their three remaining games against Munster, Leinster and Ospreys (if a top four finish is realistic). There couldn’t be a tougher team to play away from home than Munster just now; they are flying high in Europe and domestically, and their defeat of Glasgow last week was with a largely second choice starting line-up. Whilst I can see Ulster picking up a losing bonus, the Munster bandwagon should roll on. Munster by 4.

Newport Gwent Dragons vs Scarlets

The Dragons defeat last week to Zebre makes it very possible that they will be overtaken by the Italians sides below them over the final three rounds. Given their form, it is difficult to see how they will beat a Scarlets side with both eyes firmly set on a semi-final position. With superiority across most areas and everything to play for, an away win is almost certain. Scarlets by 15.

Connacht vs Leinster

Connacht will doubtless present some problems to the league leaders at the Sportsground on Saturday evening; their attacking ‘run the ball from anywhere’ approach is great to watch, but is not always successful. Leinster, on the other hand, offer more balance – they play the game in the right areas of the park, normally have great set piece control and of course have a backline that can cut open the best defences in the league. Leinster by 10.

Benetton Treviso vs Edinburgh

The home side will rightly fancy their chances as Edinburgh come visiting. A victory may move them back up above Zebre in the table and remind Edinburgh that they are in danger of falling into the bottom two zone. I’ve said it before here; but the Scots are currently in freefall and must be crying out for the end of the season and the arrival of Richard Cockerill. Until then they will continue to lurch from one disappointment to the next. Benetton Treviso by 3.

By Keith Mackenzie

Follow Keith on Twitter: @Keith_Mack7

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