The 6 Nations is on the first of its two weekend breaks so all eyes turn back to our respective domestic leagues. Some players will be released from their international squads and able to play for their respective clubs, others will be rested for vital up-coming internationals matches, and one man will somehow be available to play despite getting a multi-week ban for stamping… With so much happening on the international scene right now, again just like last week, some of these calls are still a bit of a gamble.
Newport Gwent Dragons vs Glasgow Warriors
Despite being seriously depleted by international duties the Warriors put Zebre to the sword pretty handily last weekend. The Dragons, although no doubt happy with their win over Treviso last week are without Lydiate, Faletau and Coombs which hurts their chances quite a bit, despite being at home. It’s tough to call especially because almost every time I pick Glasgow one way or the other it goes the opposite. Make of that what you will.
Prediction: Glasgow by 8
Ulster vs Zebre
Ulster surprised me last week with their loss to Ospreys. No disrespect to the Welshmen, but given that key members of the squad were on duty for Wales I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off a win in fortress-like Ravenhill. Zebre failed to surprise anyone last week and lost at home to a heavily depleted Glasgow side. This weekend I expect that Ulster will be looking to atone for their previous poor outing and unfortunately for Zebre, they’ll be the ones who are going to feel that backlash.
Prediction: Ulster by 34
Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues
Edinburgh are in total disarray right now; their head coach is leaving, they’ve had a terrible season in Europe and are in the bottom four of the table. They did beat the Blues in Cardiff last time they played them but this time they’re without key figures like Visser and Laidlaw. Denton may be back in the fold, but he is not in the form he was in during last year’s 6 Nations. It’s worth noting that the Blues’ away record this season hasn’t been the greatest (one away win in the last five attempts) but I think they should take it here… just.
Prediction: Blues by 3
Connacht vs Ospreys
Osprey’s victory last weekend over Ulster says to me that they plan to make it two from two over Irish sides this coming weekend. Connacht have home advantage, true, and they’ve lost less people to the 6 Nations than their opponents but clearly Ospreys have depth in their squad.
Prediction: Ospreys by 10
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso
This one is tougher to call score-wise since and as I write this I have no idea about who’s playing or not. Obviously Sexton is out but he probably wouldn’t have been playing this fixture anyway. It looks like Cian Healy will probably be included in the side due to the incompetence of the disciplinary committee. Treviso are definitely an improving side, but Leinster at home is probably too much for them.
Prediction: Leinster by 12
Llanelli Scarlets vs Munster
Again so far out and not knowing the team line-ups makes this game tough to call. Scarlets have already beaten Munster at home this season so you’d expect them to try for the double over them in a bid to claw back into the top 4. Munster have won their last two away games, will they make it three this time? My heart says yes, but my head says probably not.
Prediction: Scarlets by 6
Feel free to tell me how wrong (or right) I am in the comments below:
By John O’Brien (@tiptackler)