After the terrible events of last weekend and the tragic death of Nevin Spence, rugby in the Rabo has been put into context. It comes with no great surprise that Ulster’s match away to Zebre has been cancelled as a mark of respect and to give players, coaches and fans alike, time to mourn for one of their own.
However, there are still 5 other matches being played this weekend. Each will pause for a minute’s silence in memory of the young talented Ulster-man, but will equally be as competitive as it gets, as this year’s Pro12 is as tricky to predict as any.
Llanelli Scarlets Vs Ospreys
The Scarlets come into the match in high spirits after taking a deserved victory away from the Sportsground in Connacht. The Ospreys enter the game with not quite the same amount of confidence; they were battered by Glasgow last weekend and will be seeking some revenge in this all-Welsh encounter. The Scarlets also know they are unbeaten in their last 10 at home, so the Ospreys have it all to do if they are to avoid their fourth straight loss.
Prediction: Scarlets by 14
Glasgow Warriors vs Connacht
Things finally began to click for the Warriors in their last outing, a comprehensive 28-10 victory away to the reigning champions, the Ospreys. Townsend has been trying to implement a new style of rugby into the team and it looked like it was going to take some time, but last weekend should give them the confidence injection to step up and perform. For Connacht, last weekend can’t be forgotten about quickly enough – a surprise defeat at home to the Scarlets means that this match has added significance. The history books also don’t look good for Connacht as they have only won just once in Scotland since 2006.
Prediction: Warriors by 12
Leinster vs Edinburgh
Leinster had Jonathan Sexton to thank again last weekend as he spared their blushes with a last-minute penalty to give them a 19-18 victory over Treviso. This gave them back to back wins and that’s sure to give them extra confidence going into this weekend’s fixture. Edinburgh have also been on the wining side in their last two fixtures, but have not won three on the trot since 2010. Things are looking good north of the border and the forwards seem to be working well under new forwards coach Neil Back, although Edinburgh do have a chequered history travelling to Leinster and have lost on their last eight trips to Irish provinces.
Prediction: Leinster by 10
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso
Cardiff’s form so far this season has been patchy at best. They won their first match away to Connacht which is no small feat, lost at home to Edinburgh and then won away to Newport. They also have a perfect thirteen out of thirteen record against Italian sides and they will be keen to keep it that way. Treviso were incredibly unlucky to lose their match last weekend – if it hadn’t been for Sexton carrying Leinster through then they would be coming to Cardiff Arms Park with bags full of confidence. As it stands, they should be feared as they have proved they are no longer the whipping boys they use to be.
Prediction: Blues by 10
Munster vs Newport Gwent Dragons
Munster’s 100% winning record went last weekend by the narrowest of margins as they lost to Ulster 19-20 at Ravenhill, but they do still have a 100% winning record at home, of which they are rightly proud. Things aren’t quite as rosy for the Dragons, as they slipped to back-to-back losses last weekend – a home defeat to Cardiff undoubtedly hurt and they will be looking to bounce back at Thomand Park. History is also against the Dragons – they have only one conquest to call upon coming in their very first visit in the Rabo in 2004.
Prediction: Munster by 15