Pro 14: Week 2 Preview

The second set of 2017/18 Pro 14 fixtures get underway on Friday the 8th of September.
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Well, it certainly wasn’t the start to the Pro 14 that South African rugby fans were hoping for as both the Kings and Cheetahs got their jaunt north off on the wrong foot. Nevertheless, it was still a highly entertaining opening weekend of rugby with some high-scorers as well as nail-biters taking place. Hopefully, the second week of action provides similar entertainment value.

Leinster Rugby v Cardiff Blues | Friday 8 September | RDS Stadium | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Leinster 1/12 | Draw 35/1 | Cardiff 13/2

Irish outfit Leinster takes on Welsh side Cardiff in one of the two Friday evening fixtures. The hosts got their campaign off to a solid start as they beat the Newport Dragons 16-39. Cardiff didn’t fare quite so well in the opening week as they went down 10-20 to Edinburgh.

Just a quick little factoid for the South Africans out there, former Bulls and Springbok fullback Zane Kircher transferred from Leinster to Cardiff in the off-season and is likely to get a start for the away side. And while he certainly wasn’t everyone's favourite player, he has performed admirably in the northern hemisphere since making his move their half a decade ago.

Verdict: Leinster 1/12
The hosts will be way too strong on their own patch. If you get offered a minus handicap under 14.5, I suggest taking it.

Edinburgh Rugby v Newport Gwent Dragons | Friday 8 September | Myreside | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Edinburgh 2/11 | Draw 24/1 | Dragons 39/10

We round out Friday’s action with a clash between Scotland’s Edinburgh and Wales’ Gwent. The Scottish outfit come one into this one off the back of a surprise 10-20 victory over Cardiff while Gwent make the trip having gone down by 23 points to Leinster.

Verdict: Edinburgh 2/11
I was highly impressed by the display Edinburgh put on last week. My money is on them making it back-to-back wins over Welsh opposition.

Glasgow Warriors v Ospreys | Saturday 9 September | Scoutstoun Stadium | 16:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Glasgow 7/20 | Draw 20/1 | Ospreys 49/20

Glasgow will be looking to build on their 12-18 victory over Connacht last week when they play host to an Osprey’s outfit who struggled to put minnows Zebre to bed. This week’s visitors seemed to lack match fitness as they huffed and puffed their way to a 22-13 victory over Zebre. Their win also came at a cost with centre Ben John being suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle. While Ospreys will lose a pivotal back this week, Glasgow will gain one with talismanic fly-half Finn Russell making a return to the starting XV.

Verdict: Glasgow 7/20
The straight Glasgow win is a bet that I will be adding to all of my multiples this weekend.

Benetton Treviso v Ulster Rugby | Saturday 9 September | Stadio Monigo | 18:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Benetton 5/1 | Draw 28/1 | Ulster 1/8

Treviso put in a dogged display during their opening round fixture against Munster but still ended up going down by 31 points. Ulster fared a lot better in the opening round as they hammered the Cheetahs 42-19.

Verdict: Ulster 1/8
I’ve left this segment rather short as I think the Ulster win offers great value here. Also, if you’re offered a minus handicap below the 22.5 mark, It’s definitely worth backing Ulster to clear it.

Muster Rugby v Free State Cheetahs | Saturday 9 September | Thomond Park | 18:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Munster 1/25 | Draw 55/1 | Cheetahs 8/1

The Free State Cheetahs will take on Irish opposition for the second week in a row when they run out on Munster’s home track, Thomond Park. The South Africans caught a real wake-up call last week as a 10-minute second-half blitz from Ulster saw them downed 42-19. And while there were a few positives to take out of their inaugural Pro 14 game, the Cheetahs will need to be a lot more street smart if they are to get one over Munster this week.

Verdict: Munster 1/25
Munster were not at their best during last week’s game against Treviso but they still managed to score 34 points while only conceding three. I can see their immaculate defence frustrating the Cheetahs into rookie errors here.

Connacht Rugby v Southern Kings | Saturday 9 September | Sportsground | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Connacht 1/12 | Draw 35/1 | Kings 13/2

Connacht will be looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Glasgow when they take on a Kings side that was hammered 57-10 by the Scarlets last week.

Verdict: Connacht 1/12
This threadbare Kings side really does look in for a long debut season in the Pro 14. And while they should be able to claim a few points at home, I can’t really see them picking up that many on the road especially against the Irish teams.

Zebre Rugby Club v Llanelli Scarlets | Saturday 19 September |  Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Zebre 6/1 | Draw 35/1 | Scarlets 1/12

A Zebre side who put in one of their better away day displays against overseas opposition last week will be looking to shock the Scarlets when the two sides lock horns this Saturday evening. The hosts come into this one off the back of a dogged performance against Ospreys in which they went down by only nine points. Scarlets also impressed last week as they put 50 points past a rag-tag Southern Kings outfit.

Verdict: Scarlets 1/12
Despite Zebre putting in a brave display in the opening round, I can’t see them repeating the trick here. Get on the way win with confidence.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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