With one game completed on New Year’s Day, and the other called off due to bad weather, here are our predictions for what’s left of Round 12 of the RaboDirect PRO12:
Ulster vs Munster
Having only lost once at home this season Ulster can come into this game with some real confidence, especially considering Munster’s away record here – winning only once since ’07. Munster might be sitting at the top of the league at the moment, but they’ve been pulling off some unlikely last minute wins against the run of play recently. Despite the confidence those never-say-die style wins will give a team, surely that luck can’t hold out forever – can it? I’d be happy if that were the case, but I’m betting that a fired up Ulster will vociferously say ‘No!’.
Prediction: Ulster by 6
Ospreys vs Scarlets
With the Welsh rugby civil war still ongoing, we turn to Ospreys versus Scarlets. The Ospreys definitely have the psychological advantage here, having won this away fixture last week and knowing the Scarlets’ poor record at Liberty Stadium in recent years. They are also clearly the Welsh Regions’ best hope for lifting the PRO12 title this year and so will want to solidify their place in the top four, before we break for the next round of the Heineken Cup. Meanwhile, the Scarlets will be looking to arrest their recent run of five defeats but I think that’s unlikely here. Normally given the form of both sides (and home advantage) I’d give Ospreys a 15 point win but I think given the nature of these local derbies it’ll be a tighter game than that.
Prediction: Ospreys by 9
Connacht vs Leinster
Connacht will be looking to give a repeat performance of their shock 34-6 victory over Leinster in this fixture last season. Having already pulled off the “impossible” earlier this season against French giants Toulouse in the Heineken Cup it’s certainly possible that another upset could be on the cards, but for that to happen they would most definitely need to catch Leinster napping. Leinster will be looking to avenge that defeat and will be fully aware that victories should never be taken for granted at the Sportsground.
Prediction: Leinster by 15
Zebre vs Benetton Treviso
This game is tricky to call. At the time of writing I have no idea about the teams named, nor have I been able to watch any games between these two teams. Form and history obviously point to a Treviso win but Zebre have been better at home of late and gave a fair account of themselves against Treviso last week, losing by five, and against heavyweights Ulster in round 10, losing by only seven away at Ravenhill (no mean feat!). Treviso should win, but Zebre won’t make it easy for them.
Prediction: Treviso by 5
By John O’Brien (@tiptackler)
As always feel free to tell me how wrong (or right) I am in the comments below!
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images