PRO14 Preview: Saturday and Sunday

Date published: September 14 2018

Five games take place in the PRO14 on Saturday and Sunday with defending champions Leinster opening proceedings against the Dragons.

Saturday

Leinster v Dragons

Leinster boss Leo Cullen has named club captain Johnny Sexton in the team for the first time this season, while a number of other internationals are also selected in the match-day 23.

Rob Kearney comes in at full back which means that Jordan Larmour moves to the right wing from last week, while Dave Kearney comes onto the left wing.

In the centre Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are partnered for the first time this season with Ringrose making his first appearance.

In the half backs Jamison Gibson-Park starts again with Sexton outside him.

Ed Byrne makes his first start of the new campaign from loosehead prop, as does Andrew Porter at tighthead. Seán Cronin is selected between them at hooker.

Scott Fardy is joined by James Ryan for his seasonal bow, while in the back row Max Deegan, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan complete the pack.

It will be van der Flier’s first game since injuring his ACL in February during the Six Nations against France.

On the bench there is a possible debut for Meath man Hugh O’Sullivan at scrumhalf, while Caelan Doris is also in line for his first game at the RDS Arena having played away from home for both his caps to date. Peter Dooley is also in line to win his 50th Leinster cap.

For the Dragonas, Wing Hallam Amos will make his 100th appearance as the Men of Gwent travel to Dublin.

Amos clocks up a century of games as Head Coach Bernard Jackman makes three changes to the starting line-up for the fixture at the RDS Arena.

Back row Nic Cudd comes in at openside flanker for his first start of the season while there is also a place in the front row for prop Lloyd Fairbrother. Ollie Griffiths and Leon Brown are among the replacements.

Centre Adam Warren takes the place of the injured Tyler Morgan in midfield. Jarryd Sage is named on the bench.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Max Deegan, 5 James Ryan, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Ed Byrne
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Caelan Doris, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Joe Tomane

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris,
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Jarryd Sage

Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin
Kick-off: 17:15 BST (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Scarlets v Benetton

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has kept an unchanged backline with Johnny McNicholl making it through a late fitness test after coming off the field last weekend against Leinster.

Two personnel changes have been made to the pack with loosehead prop Rob Evans and back-row Josh Macleod both suffering shoulder injuries in the victory. Phil Price comes into the front-row while Blade Thomson moves to the number eight position in place of Macleod with Ed Kennedy coming in to the blindside flank.

On the replacements bench, loosehead prop Wyn Jones makes a timely return from a calf injury, suffered on Wales’ summer tour to Argentina.

Australian back Paul Asquith makes a long-awaited return from the knee injury sustained in the European Rugby Champions Cup clash against La Rochelle in March.

Meanwhile, Luca Sperandio lines up at full-back for Benetton, alongside wings Ratuva Tavuyara and Monty Ioane. Marco Benvenuti and Luca Morisi will be right and left centre respectively.

At half-back are Dewaldt Duvenage and Tommaso Allan, while the front-row consists of Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva and Simone Ferrari.

Locks will be Marco Fuser and Irnè Herbst with the back-row seeing Marco Lazzaroni, Abraham Steyn and captain Robert Barbieri completing the XV chosen by head coach Kieran Crowley.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 James Davies, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Ioan Nichola

Benetton: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Robert Barbieri (c), 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Marco Barbini, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Alberto Sgarbi

Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Kick-off: 17:15 BST (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Simon Mills (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Cheetahs v Glasgow Warriors

Cheetahs boss Franco Smith has made several alterations to his pack for the visit of Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.

The Bloemfontein-based outfit have completely altered the front-row with Charles Marais, Joseph Dweba and Aranos Coetzee coming into the XV.

At lock, JP du Preez retains his place but he is partnered by Walt Steenkamp, while the back-row sees Gerhard Olivier start, with Aidon Davis shifting to number eight.

In the backline, Tian Meyer and Shaun Venter alternate, with the scrum-half also captaining the team for the encounter.

Meanwhile, Ali Price starts for Glasgow Warriors as they name another settled side to face the Toyota Cheetahs.

The Warriors will be looking to replicate their Bloemfontein performance from last season, taking all five points from their Conference A rivals in a thrilling 29-26 victory.

Scrum-half Price starts for the first time this season, as do Alex Dunbar and Ruaridh Jackson. All three are brought into the starting XV.

Adam Hastings starts at fly-half following his Man of the Match performance against Munster at Scotstoun last Friday.

Pete Horne is Dunbar’s partner in midfield and DTH van der Merwe and Tommy Seymour complete the back three.

There is just one change to the pack that played so well against Munster, Scott Cummings starting in the engine room with Rob Harley moving to the blindside flank.

Oli Kebble starts in the country of his birth, with Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson joining him in the front-row.

Jonny Gray is Cummings’ partner in the second-row while Callum Gibbins and Adam Ashe complete the pack.

On the bench, Huw Jones is fit to play and named in a Glasgow 23 for the first time since April.

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais
Repacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Gunther van Rensburg, 19 Dennis Visser, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Marnus van der Merwe, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Ryno Eksteen

Glasgow: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Pete Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Matt Fagerson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 George Horne, 22 Nick Frisby, 23 Huw Jones

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 19:30 local (18:30 BST, 17:30 GMT)
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Zebre v Cardiff Blues

Zebre are back in front of the home crowd after the bonus-point win in the competition opener against the Southern Kings and have made four changes to their side.

They are in the hunt for a second win of the season after their defeat in Ireland against Connacht last weekend.

There is one alteration in the backs, with centre Tommaso Boni starting for the first time this season, while there are three changes in the pack. Hooker Massimo Ceciliani will earn his first start for Zebre, while tighthead prop Dario Chistolini and back-rower Jimmy Tuivaiti also start.

Italian internationals, centre Tommaso Castello and back-rower Giovanni Licata, return from injury and are amongst the replacements, with the latter ready for his seasonal debut in the PRO14 after missing the first two games.

For Cardiff, they have made six changes for what has been billed a must-win clash against Zebre in the PRO14.

Following two agonising defeats to Leinster and Benetton in the closing stages, the Blues are determined to respond.

Head coach John Mulvihill has reshuffled his starting XV to ensure players are given opportunities but also that his side finish the encounter strongly with plenty of leaders on the pitch.

Three changes come in the pack with Dillon Lewis starting ahead of Dmitri Arhip, who drops to the replacements.

And there is a new look back-row with Josh Navidi at number eight and Olly Robinson, who captains the team, on the openside flank, with Nick Williams on the bench and Ellis Jenkins given a rest week.

In the backs there are three more changes with Garyn Smith handed his first competitive start of the season and half-backs Tomos Williams and Gareth Anscombe stepping up from the bench.

There are further changes among the replacements with former Wales Under-20s prop Rhys Carre set to make his PRO14 debut.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Andrea Lovotti,
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Giosué Zilocchi, 19 Apisai Tauyavuca, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Tommaso Castello

Cardiff: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Owen Lane, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Olly Robinson (c), 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 George Earle, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Harri Millard

Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Kick-off: 20:35 local (19:35 BST, 18:35 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Jonny Erskine (Ireland), Matteo Liperini (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)

Sunday

Southern Kings v Ulster

Kings have made four changes to for their Pro14 clash against Irish side, Ulster, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday.

Two changes in the Kings forwards pack will see the side’s most capped player, Schalk Ferreira, making his first start of the new season at loosehead prop, while John-Charles Astle will start at lock alongside Schalk Oelofse.

Full-back Michael Botha, who was ruled out of last weekend’s match against Dragons due to a groin injury, will be back in the No15 jersey after making a full recovery.

The versatile Yaw Penxe shifts to the right wing for the match, replacing Michael Makase, who is out of the match-day squad for this week.

The other change in the backline will see Godlen Masimla starting ahead of Rudi van Rooyen, who moves to the bench, at scrum-half.

The Port Elizabeth-based Kings are keen to get their home leg of the competition off to a good start after opening the campaign with two matches on the road against Zebre and Dragons.

For Ulster, there are three changes to the starting team as Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Sean Reidy are all recalled to the starting pack, while the backline remains in situ for the third consecutive game.

O’Toole has recovered from a concussion suffered against Scarlets in Round 1 and takes his place in the front row alongside Andy Warwick and skipper Rob Herring. O’Connor joins Kieran Treadwell in the engine room, with Reidy, Marcell Coetzee and Nick Timoney selected in the back row.

John Cooney and Billy Burns continue in the half back positions, while Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave are again paired in midfield.

Craig Gilroy, who became Ulster’s record try-scorer in PRO14 Rugby last weekend, is named on the right wing and Henry Speight is on the opposite flank.

Will Addison, who made 28 carries in last week’s win over Edinburgh, a historical record for an Ulster player, will line out at fullback.

Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan and Wiehahn Herbst will provide front-row cover, with Jean Deysel and Matthew Rea listed as the other forward replacements.

The trio of David Shanahan, Angus Curtis and Angus Kernohan, who have been on bench duty for the opening two rounds, will again provide cover for the backs.

The teams:

Southern Kings: 15 Michael Botha, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klassen, 12 Berton Klassen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Masixole Banda, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 John-Charles Astle, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Martin Du Toit, 23 Ntabeni Dukisa

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Andy Warwick
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Matthew Rea, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Amgus Curtis, 23 Angus Kernohan

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 14:15 local (13:15 BST, 12:15 GMT)
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales), Ruhan Meiring (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)