Holley: Dragons must revel in challenge


Premier Sports rugby analyst Sean Holley looks ahead to a packed weekend of PRO14 rugby...

As the drama of Guinness Six Nations takes a break, it’s all eyes back on Guinness PRO14 this weekend - with a packed schedule of games throughout February and March to look forward to, and every game live on Premier Sports.

There’s five full 6-game rounds to play until the PRO14 Final on March 27th, plus some rescheduled fixtures to add into the mix.

Every second of the action will be live on Premier Sports channels throughout starting with two cracking fixtures tomorrow (Fri 19 Feb) night as Dragons host PRO14 champions Leinster (Premier Sports 2 from 7pm) and Glasgow Warriors welcome Ulster (Premier Sports 1 from 7pm) with both the away teams keeping a close eye on results as they battle it out at the top of Conference A.

Leinster sit on top but Ulster are only four points behind them, so this weekend’s results are crucial and Munster who are in a strong position 10 points clear at the top of Conference B travel to Edinburgh for a tough away fixture at BT Murrayfield in the Scottish capital on Saturday evening (Premier Sports 1 from 7pm).

European places will be on the minds of many with Ospreys (3rd) now 12 points clear of Glasgow Warriors (4th), but who have a game in hand in Conference A. Ospreys play Zebre on Saturday evening (Premier Sports 2 from 5.10pm).

And there’s just one point in it between Cardiff Blues (3rd) and Scarlets (4th) in Conference B. Saturday afternoon may prove to be an interesting clash in Conference B as second-placed Connacht (32 points) host Cardiff Blues (26 points). Scarlets are at home to Benetton on Saturday afternoon (Premier Sports 2 from 2.30pm).

To take you through all the live games this weekend is an experienced team of Premier Sports’ top pundits:

  • Fri 19 Feb Dragons v Leinster: Ross Harries, Shane Williams, Mike McCarthy, Eddie Butler, Lauren Jenkins
  • Fri 19 Feb Glasgow Warriors v Ulster: Dougie Vipond, Al Kellock, Stephen Ferris, Rory Hamilton, Emma Dodds
  • Sat 20 Feb Scarlets v Benetton: Ross Harris, Sean Holley, Tom Shanklin, Wyn Gruffydd, Lauren Jenkins
  • Sat 20 Feb Ospreys v Zebre: Philippa Tuttiett, Rhys Ap William
  • Sat 20 Feb Edinburgh v Munster: Dougie Vipond, Jim Hamilton, Stephen Ferris, Rory Hamilton, Emma Dodds

Premier Sports rugby analyst Sean Holley and former head coach of Ospreys Rugby for nine seasons (winning five titles and three Heineken Cup quarter final places) said he was looking forward to the return of a packed weekend of Guinness PRO14 action.

He said: “The pick of the weekend for me is Connacht against Cardiff Blues - 2nd verses 3rd in Conference B with all to play for. Cardiff Blues have a significant number in the Welsh squad so will be missing a few and Connacht impressed me last time out on the road against the Dragons. It will be a tough one for Cardiff Blues but Dai Young has been in place for a few weeks now and things have been pretty good since he arrived, so they will be going over there with confidence.

“The Dragons will have to take note on Friday night. It’s difficult for them, they haven’t had a consistent run of games so it’s hard to get momentum, and by contrast Leinster is a juggernaut that is difficult to stop.

"The Dragons will have to revel in the opportunity to play the champions and put wrongs right against a great team who are the favourites no matter what team they put out.

“Dragons have a young team, with a very exciting backline, Ben Carter in second row has been really impressive as has Ben Fry in the back row. But this is a different level again. You have Ross Byrne back, on-form players Jack Conan, Scott Penny, Luke McGrath and Harry Byrne who is now coming to the fore and has impressed me - plus the likes of Devin Toner and Scott Fardy on the bench.”

“Ulster have to keep on the coat tails of Leinster – it’s not going to be an easy trip for them to Glasgow, but the Warriors have had an up and down season; I know Danny Wilson well and he will be really well-prepared particularly around the set-piece. Ulster play attractive rugby and are scoring great tries. So it’s a tough task but if there is one team that can match Ulster on their day, it’s Glasgow Warriors.

“Scarlets against Benetton will be about who has the best group culture at the moment; Scarlets have been in a bad place, they’ve struggled with ill-discipline conceding field position and therefore tries off the back of cards and silly penalties. If Glenn Delaney can address that issue and get their key players into play, I see a Scarlets win at home on Saturday afternoon.

“Across the Loughor Bridge at the Liberty Stadium, I have been really impressed with the Ospreys who have turned the corner with three away wins in the January and are showing a spirit, culture and mentality which we haven’t seen for a long time - they should secure a comprehensive win at home this weekend.

“Edinburgh will have a task here they haven’t got the strength and depth of Munster and it’s difficult to back against Munster home or away. They have that streetwise mentality shown by that last minute drop goal by JJ Hanrahan to win in Benetton.”

Tune into Round 12 as it brings another full set of contests across Scotland, Ireland and Wales, with more rivalry and intense competition throughout the weekend for Premier Sports customers to enjoy.

  • Fri Feb 19 Dragons v Leinster KO 7.35pm Live on Premier Sports 2 (from 7pm)
  • Fri Feb 19 Glasgow Warriors v Ulster KO 7.35pm Live on Premier Sports 1 (from 7pm)
  • Sat Feb 20 Scarlets v Benetton on KO 3pm Live on Premier Sports 2 (from 2.30pm)
  • Sat Feb 20 Ospreys v Zebre KO 5.15pm Live on Premier Sports 2 (from 5.10pm)
  • Sat Feb 20 Edinburgh v Munster KO 7.35pm Live on Premier Sports 1 (from 7pm)
  • Sat Feb 20 Connacht v Cardiff Blues KO 7.35pm on Premier Sports 2 (from 7.30pm)
The Dragons will have to revel in the opportunity to play the champions and put wrongs right against a great team who are the favourites no matter what team they put out...
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