The RaboDirect PRO 12 Preview: Round 3

The RaboDirect PRO12 continues this weekend with Round 3. The clash of the weekend takes place at the Sportsground with Pat Lam’s Connacht taking on an Ulster side that have lost their opening two games. Munster take on another Italian side in Treviso having spent the last week on a camp in Italy following last weekend’s terrific performance against Zebre. There’s an all welsh clash with the Dragons taking on the Scarlets while the Cardiff Blues welcome Zebre to Arms Park. The other two games see Ospreys taking on Edinburgh and last years winners Leinster travelling to Scotstoun Stadium to take on the Glasgow Warriors.

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Newport Gwent Dragons v Scarlets
Scarlets coach Simon Easterby admits his side have been left in no doubt as to the importance of tasting victory against Welsh rivals Newport Gwent Dragons in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Scarlets have won their last ten fixtures against Dragons in the RaboDirect PRO12 since Dragons were victorious 15-13 at Rodney Parade on New Year’s Day 2008.
Prediction: Dragons by 3-5
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Cardiff Blues v Zebre
Cardiff Blues welcome back Leigh Halfpenny for their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Zebre but director of rugby Phil Davies insists the Italians are not to be underestimated.
The Blues won both encounters with Zebre last season, with the Italians claiming a losing bonus point in Parma in November.
Prediction: Cardiff by 5-10
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Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
Chris Cusiter returns to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up and will captain his side as they seek to exact revenge on defending RaboDirect PRO12 champions Leinster for last season’s agonising semi-final defeat.
The Scotland scrum-half has featured from the bench in the Warriors’ two matches so far this season – wins over Cardiff Blues and Ulster – after 11 months on the sidelines.The Warriors have not won their opening three encounters of a season since 2002/03 but they have won their last eight fixtures at Scotstoun in all competitions since Castres beat them there in the European Cup last December.
Prediction: Leinster by 3-5
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Benetton Treviso v Munster
After a week at Lake Garda, Munster will bid to continue their perfect start to the season against Treviso this weekend – but Paul O’Connell has been quick to warn against complacency.

Last season was a period of transition for Munster as they failed to reach the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs but this time around they have impressed in Rob Penney’s second season at the helm.They followed up a thumping win against Edinburgh by hitting 40 points against Zebre – although they were trailing at half-time – and they remained in Italy to prepare for this weekend’s clash.

Munster are bidding to become the first side ever to begin a RaboDirect PRO12 season with three maximum point victories but Treviso have won two of their six clashes with the Irish province.
Prediction: Munster by 7-12

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Ospreys v Edinburgh Rugby
Ospreys have made an unbeaten start to their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign, winning 24-19 in Treviso and drawing 29-all at Leinster.
The Welshmen have won their last nine games in the PRO12 at the Liberty Stadium since Glasgow were the visitors on 14th September 2012, however, Ospreys have won just one of their last five games against Scottish opponents.
Prediction: Edinburgh by 3-5
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Connacht v Ulster
Connacht’s only win in their last five RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures was 25-16 at home to Zebre in round 1 of the new season.

Connacht have been defeated in their last five encounters with fellow Irish Provinces.

Ulster have lost their last three PRO12 games but have not lost four in a row in the competition since October 2011. The Ulstermen have only once before begun a season with three straight defeats – in 2008/09.

Connacht’s solo victory over Ulster in their last 14 contests since 2005 was 26-21 in Galway in April 2012.

We’re gonna go with a Connacht upset on Saturday.
Prediction: Connacht by 3-5

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