It’s time for the festive derby games in the Pro14. Well it is for all the teams except the Cheetahs and Kings as it’s too hot in South Africa at this time of the year to be playing rugby. For the rest however it should be big crowds for big rivalries. Enjoy the clashes folks.
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As with Super Rugby I’ll be testing my predictions in DrivingMaul v the Bookie. Check out how I did against the TAB in Round 7.
Leinster v Ulster – Leinster by 7
Leinster have not lost a game all season in either the Pro14 or Heineken Champions Cup. Leinster will be resting a lot (probably all) of their stars after 4 European games in 5 weekends. However they have done that in other games and still won them.
Ulster have also had that European work load. In addition to that the Irish provinces normally rest players for the away fixtures over the festive season. Yup we are going to see two weakened sides going at it and the home one should get the points.
Zebre Rugby Club v Benetton Treviso – Benetton Treviso by 5
Whilst Zebre have looked better over the last couple of weeks, Benetton are still the stronger of the Italian sides. That only thing giving me pause in this selection is that Benetton have been in the Champions Cup. That’s more taxing than the Challenge Cup will have been on Zebre. Still I’m going with the away side.
Connacht Rugby v Munster – Munster by 7
The Irish provinces are having a fantastic season, they currently sit in first and second for both Conferences. This game sees the sides in Conference B who are only separated by 1 point. I expect Munster to be ordered to rest some of their players as they are the away team. However they will know this is one of the key games to topping the conference and getting an easier path in the playoffs.
Dragons v Scarlets – Scarlets by 5
I had to think twice about this one. That might be surprising as Dragons have continued their losing ways this season. However Dean Ryan has been moving them in the right direction. New Zealand Rugby are trying to get Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar to join Ian Fosters coaching team. Will that distract the Scarlets setup enough to give Dragons a chance? Maybe but I’m still backing the away team to take the spoils.
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh – Edinburgh by 3
From memory, Edinburgh’s first away win of last season was at Glasgow. This year they have looked much more accomplished on the road. Also assuming Munster have beaten Connacht, a win here would lift Edinburgh into second place. I think that they could do it, I think that Glasgow have just lost too many x-factor players overseas.
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues – Cardiff Blues by 5
Normally you’d go with the home side in this fixture. However the Ospreys are a total shambles off the pitch and that’s showing on the pitch too. Added to being the least attacking team in the Pro14 they decided to put an advert up outside Cardiff’s home ground. It shows Anscombe, Cardiff’s flyhalf from last year saying how much an Osprey he is.
You can play those fun off the pitch games when you’re delivering on the pitch. When you’re not, it just adds fuel to the media fire when you need calm and focus. Cardiff should get the points here.
Record So Far
37 from 49 or 76% right
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