Pro 14: Round 3 Preview

Round 3 of the inaugural Pro 14 gets underway this Friday evening with a tripleheader, which includes a clash between Ulster and the Scarlets.

It certainly isn't going the way of the two South Africa as the Cheetahs and Kings who once again found Europe's big guns too hot to handle. There is some good news for the intrepid Cheetahs and their globe trotting countrymen at the Southern Kings as both sides will return home this week.The latter will take on Leinster at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this Saturday afternoon, while the former locks horns against Zebre later that evening.

Will a return to South African shores be the tonic these two sides need or will they have registered three consecutive losses a piece come the close of the round?

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Newport Gwent Dragons v Connacht Rugby | Friday 15 September | Rodney Parade | 20:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Dragons 17/20 | Draw 18/1 | Connacht 1/1

The Newport Gwent Dragons and Connacht get us underway this week. The hosts come into this one off the back of consecutive defeats, with their latest being a 35-18 loss to Edinburgh. Connacht make the trip to Wales off the back of a much more positive result as they beat the Southern Kings by 22 points.

Verdict: Connacht 1/1
Connacht looked like they were beginning to click against the Kings. I fancy them to finally move through the gears and put on a solid performance against a struggling Dragons outfit.

Edinburgh Rugby v Benneton Treviso | Friday 15 September | Myreside | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Edinburgh 1/25 | Draw 30/1 | Treviso 19/2

An Edinburgh outfit who have gotten their campaign off to a sensational start will take on plucky Treviso at Myreside. The hosts are yet to be beaten this term and have already claimed the scalps of Cardiff and the Dragons. And although they don't face Welsh opposition this weekend, they're likely to keep that unbeaten record up with a Treviso side that has yet to win a game coming to town.

Verdict: Edinburgh 1/25
Yes, Treviso have shown admirable character this term but they're likely to be run ragged out in Scotland. If you've got the money, have a large strike on the straight win as it's bound to happen. For those in search of more value, if you're given a minus handicap in the mid-twenties I suggest having a full go on it.

Ulster Rugby v Scarlets | Friday 15 September | Kingspan Stadium | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Ulster 15/20 | Draw 18/1 | Scarlets 23/20

Friday's headline clash sees undefeated sides Ulster and Scarlets lock horns at the Kingspan. The hosts come into this one off the back of a narrow seven point away victory over Treviso, while the visitors make the trip having beaten Zebre 10-41.

Verdict: Scarlets 23/20
I'm on the away side here. The reigning Pro 12 Champions have been in sensational form this term and I can see them edging their hosts in what should be a titanic affair.

Southern Kings v Leinster Rugby | Saturday 16 September | Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium | 15:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Kings 6/1 | Draw 20/1 | Leinster 1/8

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will make history this Saturday as it plays host to the first ever Pro 14 game to be played on South African shores. This is a massive occasion for South African rugby and the Kings won't want to disappoint, especially after their tumultuous start to life in the Pro 14. The hosts for Saturday's encounter have already shipped 89 points this term. They need to sure up that defensive line of theirs' if they are to have any chance of defeating a Leinster side that have put in two commanding performances.

Verdict: Leinster 1/8
If it was anyone but Leinster I would be tipping the Kings to cause a massive upset on their home debut. It is Leinster however, and the Irish side epitomises what it means to be a professional outfit. Leinster will take this one by 20 or more.

Ospreys v Munster Rugby | Saturday 16 September | Liberty Stadium | 16:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Ospreys 23/20 | Draw 17/1 | Munster 15/20

So we head back to Europe for the day's next instalment which will see Welsh outfit Ospreys take on Irish counterparts, Munster. The Munstermen have got their season off to a flyer hammering both Treviso and the Cheetahs. Their hosts for the weekend haven't been as convincing and come into this one off the back of a 21 point loss to Glasgow,

Verdict: Munster 15/20
While they're in for a much sterner test here, my money is still on Munster to continue their unbeaten run.

Free State Cheetahs v Zebre | Saturday 16 September | Toyota Stadium | 20:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Cheetahs 1/50 | Draw 43/1 | Zebre 10/1

The Cheetahs will be looking to claim their first victory in the tournament when they take on Zebre out in Bloemfontein. The Free Staters come into this one off the back of two heavy defeats but a return to the harder playing field of the Toyota Stadium should stand them in good stead against a Zebre side that looks set to battle it out with the Kings for the last place in the overall standings.

Verdict: Cheetahs 1/50
A return home is just the tonic this  Cheetahs side needs. If you're offered a minus handicap of anything under 43.5, I suggest you take it.

Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors | Saturday 16 September | Cardiff Arms Park | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Cardiff 27/20 | Draw 19/1 | Glasgow 6/10

We close out the Round 3 action with a tie between the Cardiff Blues and Glasgow Warriors. The visitors come into this one as hot favourites after impressing in their opening two games. The hosts are certainly in for an uphill battle here, particuarally with their talismanic skipper, Sam Warburton, being ruled out for four months.

Verdict: Glasgow 6/10
The Warriors have been in magnificent touch and I can see them making it three wins from three here.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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