Pro 14: Round 1 Preview

Pro 14: Round 1 Preview

The PRO14 season will get underway on Friday the 31st of August. Our scribe takes a look at the seven games taking place this weekend.

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Zebre v Kings
Friday 31 August
Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Zebre 1/8
Draw 30/1
Kings 5/1

Zebre will be looking to build on their solid 2017/18 campaign when they take on the hapless Southern Kings this Friday evening. The hosts enjoyed a solid campaign season as they won half of their games.

The Kings debut season was nowhere near as successful as that of their opponents as the men from South Africa's Eastern Cape could only manage one win on their way to finishing the tournament as wooden spoonists.

Verdict: Zebre 1/8
The Italian side should have no troubles in seeing off the Kings. My money is on the hosts taking this one by 18 points or more. 
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Cardiff v Leinster
Friday 31 August
Cardiff Arms Park
20:35


To Win (80 Mins)
Cardiff 43/20
Draw 19/1

Leinster 4/10

Reigning champions Leinster will get their title defence underway with a game against the Cardiff Blues. The hosts enjoyed a decent last season as they just missed out on the PRO14 play-offs while winning the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Leinster also had a great time of it in Europe last year with the Irish outfit claiming the European Rugby Champions Cup, which ensured they secured the double.

Verdict: Leinster 4/10
They'll be missing a few of their Irish internationals but Leinster will still have enough quality to see off Cardiff.
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Ospreys v Edinburgh
Friday 31 August
Liberty Stadium
08:35


To Win (80 Mins)
Ospreys 4/10
Draw 19/1
Edinburgh 21/10


We close out Friday's proceedings with a game between the Ospreys and Edinburgh. The hosts for this one endured a rather horrid last season as they finished their campaign in fifth spot on the Conference A standings.

Edinburgh had a much better time of it last season as a late surge saw them qualify for the play-offs where they went down 20-16 to Irish giants, Munster.

Verdict: Edinburgh 21/10
I quite fancy the 'Scots to pull off an upset here. They have a solid and experienced side who know how to get the business done away from home.
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Connacht v Glasgow
Saturday 1 September
Sportsground
16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Connacht 29/20
Draw 18/1

Glasgow 6/10

Saturday's first fixture will see Irish side Connacht take on Scottish opponents Glasgow. The Irish Province endured a very underwhelming campaign last season as they finished in sixth spot on the Conference A standings.

Glasgow had a much better time of it during the inaugural PRO14 as they finished the regular season at the summit of Conference B and advanced to the semi-finals where they went down to eventual runners-up, Scralets, 13-28

Verdict: Connacht 29/20
I don't think Glasgow will be near as good as they were last season with talisman Finn Russel having moved to France. I think they may well be some bedding-in issues for Glasgow to sort out, which makes backing the Connacht win a rather smart play. 
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Munster v Cheetahs
Saturday 1 September
Thomond Park
18:15


To Win (80 Mins)
Munster 1/20
Draw 52/1
Cheetahs 15/2 

The Cheetahs have the unenviable task of taking on Munster in their opener. The men from the Free State have lost a plethora of players with Francois Venter, Fred Zeilinga and Johan Goosen both moving abroad. The men from South Africa have struggled during the opening few rounds of the Currie Cup, losing their first game to Bulls and their second to Western Province. They now switch their attention to the PRO 14.

Munster will be missing a few of their key players this week with Irish international CJ Stander ruled out. They will also be a bit thin on the ground when it comes to the loose trio as Chris Cloete is currently injured.

Verdict: Munster 1/20
The Cheetahs seem rather unbalanced at the moment and I personally think they are rife for the taking. My money is on Munster claiming this one by 30 points or more.
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Ulster v Scarlets
Saturday 1 September
Kingspan Stadium
18:15


To Win (80 Mins)
Ulster 7/10
Draw 17/1
Scarlets 5/4


Ulster and Scarlets will bring the curtain down on Saturday's action when they clash at the Kingspan. The hosts endured a rather underwhelming inaugural PRO14 campaign as they finished the round-robin phase fourth in Conference B.

The Scarlets had a much better time of it last season as they made it to the final where they went down 32-40 to Leinster.

Verdict: Scarlets 5/4
I can see the Welsh side spring a surprise here. Ulster are a quality outfit but they will need a few weeks to gel.
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Newport Dragons v Treviso
Sunday 2 September
Rodney Parade
20:35


To Win (80 Mins)
Newport 3/10
Draw 20/1

Treviso 5/2

The hosts had a horrid time of it last year finishing sixth in Conference B. They will be looking for a much-improved showing this year and they have an ideal chance to start their campaign with a win as they take on Italian minnows Treviso.

Treviso actually did alright last year finishing fifth in Conference B. They proved a tough nut to crack at home last year but their away form wasn't anything to really write home about.

Verdict: Newport 3/10
I can see the Dragons fighting their way to a well-earned opening victory over a plucky yet limited Treviso side.



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Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets

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