Pro14: Leinster v Connacht Preview

Rugby fans are in for a treat this New Year's Day with Leinster and Connacht set to square off in what should be a pulsating all-Irish affair. 

You may be nursing a horrid hangover this New Year's Day but make sure you're up and about at five o'clock as you dont want to miss out on the Irish Pro14 derby between Leinster and Connacht. The two Irish Provinces come into this one off the back of impressive victories and will be looking to kick off the New Year as the same way they ended 2017.

Leinster v Connacht | Monday 1 January |  RDS Arena | 17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Leinster 1/7 | Draw 25/1 | Connacht 47/10

Leinster

Leo Cullen's chargers pulled off one of the upsets of 2017 as they beat Munster 24-34 at Thomond Park. The victory was massive for Leinster as it saw them move within two points of Pro 14 Conference B leaders, the Scarlets. The win also reinforced Leinster's position as one of the European teams to watch in 2018.

Prior to last week's famous victory, Leinster have a string of solid results both on the domestic and European fronts. The Irish Province smashed the Newport Gwent Dragons 54-10 late November and went on to beat Treviso 10-36 in the first week of December. They then went on a two-week European jaunt that saw them claim successive Champions Cup victories over reigning Aviva Premiership Champions, Exeter. That's certainly the type of form you want to have stepping into the New Year.

Connacht

Like Leinster, Connacht managed to pull off an eye-catching victory last week as they beat Ulster 44-16 in a highly entertaining Irish Derby. Connacht has been in dire form up until last week's match losing to both the Cardiff Blues and Zebre. And while the win hasn't really put them back in contention for a Pro14 play-off spot, it will have given them a massive confidence boost nonetheless.

Connacht face a much sterner test this week and they will have to ensure their defence line is even more rigid than it was last week. While they ensured Ulster don't manage to pass the 20-point mark last weekend, Connacht still gifted their opponents a few too many point scoring opportunities. If they do the same away to Leinster, then they will have absolutely no chance of winning this one.

Verdict: Leinster 1/7
While Connacht will be in buoyant mood this New Year's Day, I simply cannot see them getting the better of Leinster at the RDS. The hosts are too well focused a unit to slip up against a solid but lesser team. As such, I'll be filing the Leinster win under the 'Banker' category.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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