All eyes return to the Guinness PRO12 Championship with four teams still fighting to join Leinster and Munster in the Semi-Finals.
The Ospreys and the Scarlets form the Welsh challenge while Ulster Rugby have it within their control to make it three Irish representatives in the Guinness Final Series.
Glasgow Warriors, who won their first Championship title in 2015, can still make it into the Semi-Finals but they will need to take maximum points from their final two games while relying on other results to go their way.
Fixtures – Friday, April 28:
Cardiff Blues v Zebre Rugby (7.05pm); Edinburgh Rugby v Newport-Gwent Dragons (7.35pm); Leinster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors (7.35pm)
Saturday, April 29: Benetton Rugby v Munster Rugby (7.05pm CET/ 6.05pm IRE/UK); Connacht v Scarlets (7.35pm) Ospreys Rugby v Ulster Rugby (3pm)
What’s at Stake?
Glasgow Warriors arrive in Dublin to take on Leinster who will be recovering from their Champions Cup semi-final loss to Clermont Auvergne. If the Warriors are to have any chance of reaching the Guinness PRO12 Semi-Finals they will need to take maximum points against Leinster who have already secured a home berth in the knock-out stages.
Cardiff Blues will continue their build-up to the play-offs for the Champions Cup by hosting Zebre Rugby at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park. The Blues have been in terrific try-scoring form of late with 22 tries posted in their last six games and they are a prime contender to score the Championship’s 652nd try of the season and set a new record.
The final game on Friday night sees Edinburgh Rugby welcome Newport-Gwent Dragons to Myreside where the hosts will be eager to record their first win since making the move from BT Murrayfield in January.
On Saturday Munster make their way to Italy to take on Benetton Rugby who have won their last two games at the Stadio Monigo against Ospreys and Dragons. Connacht are also expecting a big crowd for the visit of Scarlets as the 2016 champions play their final home game of the season.
What teams need to qualify for Semi-Finals:
Leinster: Home Semi-Final secured
Munster: 2 points a Home Semi-Final
Scarlets: 7 points for a Semi-Final
Ospreys: 8 points for a Semi-Final
Ulster: 10 points for Semi-Final*
*Please note due to Ospreys v Ulster in RD21 only one of those teams can earn the points totals listed above
Glasgow Warriors criteria: The Scottish outfit need the maximum 10 points from their final two games against Leinster and Edinburgh to stand any chance whatsoever of reaching the Semi-Finals whilst also relying on other results involving Scarlets, Ospreys and Ulster.
If two or more Teams finish with the same number of Championship points, their placings will be determined by the following criteria in descending order:
- number of matches won;
- the difference between points for and points against;
- the number of tries scored;
- the most points scored;
- the difference between tries for and tries against;
- the fewest number of suspensions;
- the fewest number of yellow cards received;
- toss of a coin
Ospreys Rugby v Ulster Rugby
At Liberty Stadium, 3pm.
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 63rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (IRFU), Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Dennis Jones (WRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Ospreys v Ulster promises to be a dramatic affair with both sides aware that victory in the fixture will represent a huge step forward in their bid to reach the Semi-Finals.
Ospreys will be looking to arrest a run of results which have stalled their Championship assault while Ulster will be encouraged with their losing bonus-point performance against Munster in Round 20.
Home advantage and the second-best defence in the Championship will give Ospreys confidence at Liberty Stadium, however, Ulster know that defeat would likely end their ambitions of reaching the knock-out stages for the fifth season in succession.
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 27, Ospreys won 13, Ulster won 14.
Did you know?
- Ospreys Rugby have slipped to three straight defeats in the Guinness PRO12 but have not lost four in row in the Championship in the same season since their inaugural campaign in 2003/04.
- Ospreys two defeats at Liberty Stadium in the PRO12 this season have come in their last three home fixtures, against Munster and Leinster whilst their only victory in their last six encounters with Irish provinces was when Connacht visited Swansea in January.
- Ulster Rugby’s six game winning run in the Guinness PRO12 has come to an end with a draw at home to Cardiff Blues and a loss in Munster in the last two rounds.
- The Ulstermen have lost just one of their last eight fixtures against Welsh regions: 13-16 in Llanelli in round 13.
- Ulster’s only defeat in their last seven matches against Ospreys was 20-31 at Liberty Stadium in December
For more Opta statistics visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/powered-by-opta/
The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on May 27, 2017. Tickets for the Guinness PRO12 Final are available via ticketmaster.ie with a limited number of great value €35 tickets still remaining. Or get in at the top level with Premium, starting at only €70. www.pro12rugby.com/final