Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Guiness PRO14 2020/21: Round 1 Preview

Guiness PRO14 2020/21: Round 1 Preview

Ian Madigan of Ulster

After a short break, the next edition of the PRO14 gets underway this week. There's a rather large cloud hanging over the tournament with the two South Africa sides, the Kings and Cheetahs not guaranteed spots in the competition. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The former have gone into administration yet again, while the latter are in the process of starting court proceedings against the PRO14's holding company with rumours circulating that they may be thrown out of the tournament as part of a restructure which will accommodate South Africa's four former Super Rugby franchises. 

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Zebre vs Cardiff Blues
Friday 2 October
Stadio Sergio Lafranchi

To Win Match
Zebre 2/1
Draw 20/1
Cardiff 4/10

The new PRO14 season will get underway out in Italy where a Zebre side that were poor last term take on Cardiff side who also failed to impress. 

The hosts only managed to win three of their 15 games, while the Blues fared better winning seven of their 15. Neither side got anywhere near the play-offs and both will be hoping for improved campaigns this time around.

The two sides didn't meet last year due to COVID with their last game coming in 2018 where the Blues ran out 37-0 victors having gone down 26-24 in the 2018 reverse tie. 

Verdict: Cardiff 4/10
I fancy the Blues to win a rather tight game. Any plus handicap in excess of eight points should be gobbled up, however. 

Leinster vs Newport-Gwent Dragons
Friday 2 October
RDS Arena

To Win Match
Leinster 1/100
Draw 35/1
Dragons 11/1

Next up, reigning champions Leinster will open their title defence against a Dragons side that has been boosted by the arrival of Welsh veteran, Jamie Roberts. 

The hosts were all-conquering last season, not losing a game on their way to winning their third successive PRO14 title. 

Their opponents, while enjoying a decent season, were less impressive and missed out of the semi-finals having won ten of their 15 games. They have bolstered their ranks, however, but may well struggle against Leinster who beat them 50-15 last season. 

Verdict: Leinster 1/100
The Irish province will want to put their Champions Cup quarter-final defeat behind them ASAP and I can see them doing just this by running up a big score in their PRO14 opener. Maybe look out for some of the live handicap markets with Hollywoodbets' Live In-Play facility. 

Ulster vs Benetton Treviso
Friday 2 October

To Win Match
Ulster 1/7
Draw 30/1
Treviso 47/10

2019/20 defeated finalists Ulster will open up their campaign with a clash against a Treviso side that was rather disappointing near the tail end of last season.

The hosts enjoyed a solid campaign last season but ultimately faltered at the final hurdle as they went down 27-5 to arch-rivals Leinster in the final. They will have taken a lot of hope out of last season, however, and will be keen to launch another assault on silverware. 

Treviso really struggled when the PRO14 returned losing two of their four games with one of these defeats coming to local rivals and minnows, Zebre. 

Verdict: Ulster 1/7
I reckon Treviso will struggle here. Ulster have only been off for a few weeks while Zebre have been off for more than a month. I reckon the ring rust will have a massive effect on their chances.  

Scarlets vs Munster
Saturday 3 October
Parc Ye Scarlets

To Win Match
Scarlets 8/10
Draw 18/1
Munster 21/20

Next up we have a Welsh-Irish affair with the Scarlets taking on Munster in Saturday's opener. The hosts finished just outside the semi-final places last year and had the season run its normal course, they would have most likely been involved in the play-offs. 

Munster fared better last term advancing to the semi-finals of the tournament before they were ousted by rivals Leinster. While they have lost recent signing, RG Snyman, they still have a solid squad who will give most teams a run this term. 

Verdict: Munster 21/20
I like the look of the away side. They have a very talented and experienced team who should be able to get the job done away from home. This offers pretty good value and could be one to add to any weekend mulits.

Connacht vs Glasgow Warriors
Saturday 3 October
The Sportsground

To Win Match
Connacht 8/10
Draw 18/1
Glasgow 21/20

Connacht and the Warriors square off next and this should be a rather exciting Irish-Scottish affair with both teams playing attractive brands of rugby. 

The hosts missed out on the semi-finals last season and will be gunning to make the playoffs this time around. they have a very handy squad who could cause Glasgow all sorts of problems. 

The Warriors had a rather disappointing season last time around as they missed out on the semi-finals by five points. Like Connacht, they have a very handy squad that is littered with top class attacking talent.

When the two sides met last year we were treated to a high scoring affair with Glasgow running out convincing 43-17 victors. 

Verdict: Connacht 8/10
I'm leaning towards the home side here. They're a solid outfit who should be able to get the job done at the Sportsground. 

Edinburgh vs Ospreys
Saturday 3 October

To Win Match
Edinburgh 1/10
Draw 30/1
Ospreys 57/10

The opening round of the season comes to a close out at Murrayfield where last season's semi-finalists, Edinburgh, will take on an Ospreys side that only managed to register two wins in their 15 games. The Welsh club have strengthened their squad, however, with the likes of Rhys Webb and Steven Myler coming into the fold. 

The hosts won't have fond memories of games against their opponents for this weekend having gone down to the Ospreys in four of the last five games between the sides. The teams didn't meet last year with their last meeting occurring in 2018, where the Ospreys ran out 17-13 victors. 

Verdict: Edinburgh 1/10
I can see Richard Cockerill's men getting their campaign underway with a hard-fought win against the Welsh side. 

Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets.

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