Guinness PRO14 2017/18: Round 8 Predictions


Rugby Predictions

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster

Conference A leaders Glasgow will hope to continue their fine start to the season with yet another win this time against Leo Cullen’s Leinster side. Dave Rennie’s Warriors team have played some sublime rugby so far this season racking up five bonus points in their first seven games and will be gunning for revenge after losing at home to the same opponents in Europe a couple of weeks ago. Visitors Leinster will hope for another away-day success to go with their impressive 25-10 win at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium last time out, and with six wins from seven should not be taken lightly by the Scotstoun faithful. A hugely exciting match-up that has the potential to swing either way, but I expect the hosts to just pip this one. Glasgow by 4

Munster v Dragons

The Irish giants will be hurting after going down to an unexpected defeat at Connacht last week and will be desperate to avoid a third consecutive Pro14 defeat, against a Dragons side still winless on their travels in the league this campaign. Sitting second in Conference A but 12 points off leaders Glasgow, Munster cannot afford another slip-up if they are to keep the pressure on the Scots, whilst the Dragons sit second-from-bottom in Conference B with just two wins from their seven games, although there have been signs of improvement under coach Bernard Jackman. Given Munster’s recent troubles there may be some early nerves in Cork, but the hosts should have enough quality to grab a much-needed win. Munster by 15

Scarlets v Benetton

Last season’s Pro12 champions will face a tough examination at home against a Benetton sign far more competitive than in previous seasons. The Scarlets may be top of Conference B and unbeaten at home this season but Kieran Crowley’s Benetton side have put in some impressive displays on their travels, running Glasgow close in round five and winning at Edinburgh in September. Much of the Scarlets best play this season has come from their backline with 31 tries scored already this season, and Benetton’s best hope may be that bad weather affects their hosts again as it did against Bath in the Champions Cup recently. Despite Benetton’s improvements though, it is hard to see anything but a comfortable home win here. Scarlets by 18 

Southern Kings v Ulster

Life in the Pro14 continues to fare no better for the Kings after they suffered their seventh-consecutive defeat to Glasgow last week, and with Ulster smarting after back-to-back defeats over the last two weekends an immediate turnaround in fortunes for the South Africans looks unlikely. After three consecutive away matches, the Kings will happy to be playing back on home turf as they look to finally get some points on the board this season. A trip to South Africa after a tough couple of weeks may not be ideal for Les Kiss’ side but they should get their title challenge back up and running this weekend. Ulster by 23

Edinburgh v Ospreys

A match between two sides coming off the back of wins last weekend, this could be an intriguing contest. After a bright start to the season was followed by three consecutive defeats, Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh have turned things around with consecutive wins including an impressive win away in Italy last week. After a woeful run of form that saw them lose seven on the bounce in all competitions, last week’s victory over the Dragons was desperately needed for all at the Ospreys and they will hope to build on that with victory in Scotland. Despite that win however there is still much work to do for the Welsh region and with Edinburgh building momentum once again it is hard to look past the hosts for this one. Edinburgh by 8

Cardiff Blues v Zebre

The Blues were brought back down-to-earth with defeat to Scarlets last time out, having won their three previous matches in all competitions prior to the Welsh derby. Bottom of Conference A, the hosts entertain a Zebre team sitting two places and two points higher in the Conference table, and after narrow defeats in their last two league matches the Italians will be looking to return to the form that saw them win back-to-back matches at the end of September. The Blues will be boosted by the anticipated return of former British and Irish Lion Gethin Jenkins to the match-day squad whilst fly-half Jarrod Evans will be hoping to maintain his impressive form of late. With only a few players away on international duty, the Blues will have a strong squad to choose from and should get back to winning ways against the Italians at the Arms Park. Blues by 9

Connacht v Cheetahs

Kieran Keane’s Connacht have struggled this season with just two wins from seven, but with both wins coming in Galway – including victory over Munster last week – the hosts are always a tough proposition at home. Their opponents the Cheetahs have looked hugely impressive at home but perhaps unsurprisingly have struggled on their travels with last week’s one-point win over Zebre their first away win in three matches on the road this campaign. With that in mind this is a tough one to call but given the Cheetahs broke their duck away from home last week and with their attacking prowess throughout the team they may have just enough firepower to steal this one. Cheetahs by 6

By Jon Davies