As the plot thickens in the Guinness PRO14 last weekend confirmed a number of things for us: Leinster are going to take some stopping in defence of their title, Dragons are onto something this season and Conference B is going to chop and change all season long.
The pace only quickens with two successive game-weeks ahead of Europe’s return, with all the action back on Friday night with a superb triple-header.
After Toyota Cheetahs and Scarlets both stumbled at the weekend that one remaining unbeaten side – Leo Cullen’s Leinster – host Dragons at 19:35pm at RDS Arena and will be wary of slipping up against Dean Ryan’s men, who punished Glasgow Warriors 18-5 on Saturday.
The Warriors themselves, looking for the second win of their season, host the Isuzu Southern Kings at the same time, while the third match on Friday sees John Cooney-led Ulster host Zebre, who appear to have found a new star in Marco Manfredi.
Try picking any of the matches lined up for Saturday. In Halloween week fireworks are promised as Scarlets host Toyota Cheetahs, Ospreys host Connacht, Edinburgh travel to Benetton and Cardiff Blues welcome Munster.
All four of those games appear very well matched, the home sides all on less points and attempting to rein-in their visitors on the day with home support behind them.
Leinster Rugby v Dragons
RDS Arena, Dublin |KO 19:35 | Live on Freesports, eir Sport 1, DAZN, TG4, PRO14.tv
It has been an imperious start to Conference A for Leo Cullen’s dominant Leinster side, who sit just one point shy of a perfect tally after their hard-fought 3-0 victory over Zebre in Parma and who will be eager to continue their run against mid-table Dragons. The Welsh side toppled Glasgow Warriors 18-5 in Round 4 to show their improvements but have failed to string together two Guinness PRO14 wins since November 2016, and two successive away triumphs since March 2012. With the RDS representing something of a fortress – Leinster have lost just once there since April 2018 – the defending champions will surely be confident of extending their flawless start to the season so far.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR, 3rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Matteo Liperini (FIR)
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Ed Kenny (IRFU)
Overall Guinness PRO14 head to head record:
Played 32, Leinster won 23, Dragons won 9.
Did you know?
- Reigning Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster Rugby are now the only remaining unbeaten side in this season’s Championship, although their run of maximum point victories was abruptly halted with their 3-0 victory at Zebre last weekend.
- The Leinstermen have lost just once at the RDS Arena in any competition since April 2018: 24-39 to Glasgow Warriors in round 20 of last season’s Championship.
- Dragons have won three of their last five Guinness PRO14 encounters but have not managed successive victories in the Championship since November 2016.
- The Welshmen won their most recent away game at Zebre in round 2 but the last time they won successive away games in Guinness PRO14 was in March 2012.
- Leinster have won their last six fixtures against Dragons, whilst the Men from Gwent were the last Welsh region to taste victory at the RDS Arena with a 16-14 win in February 2015.