Guinness Pro14 – Round 5 previews

Guinness Pro14, Round 5 team news

Last weekend was a successful one for all four provinces. Round 4 saw both Munster and Ulster win on Friday night. Munster grabbed a last-minute bonus point with an Arno Botha try in the 80th minute. Ulster were 17-0 ahead against Cardiff after only 22 minutes at Ravenhill. They took their foot off the gas somewhat after that, but still ran out 23-14 winners.

Leinster squeezed past Zebre on a scarcely credible 0-3 scoreline in Parma. Not one for the highlights reel! The game of the weekend, however, came in Sportsground where the previously unbeaten Cheetahs lost out to a last-minute Tom Farrell try. That score gave Connacht a 24-22 win after a superb game of rugby.

Leinster v Dragons
Guinness Pro14, round 5 – Leinster v Dragons

The younger of the Byrne brother gets the nod from Leo Cullen for his first Pro14 start. Harry replaces his brother Ross in the no.10 jersey for the visit of Dean Ryan’s Dragons to the RDS. Leo Cullen also hands a first start to second-row Ryan Baird who will have the experienced Devin Toner alongside him.

There are changes on both wings as James Lowe and Dave Kearney return to the starting 15. Conor O’Brien comes in alongside Rory O’Loughlin at centre, while Jimmy O’Brien starts at full-back.

Ulster v Zebre
Guinness Pro14, round 5 – Ulster v Zebre

The headline news from Dan McFarland’s team announcement was the change of the half-back pairing for their clash with Zebre. Former Munster man Bill Johnston will partner David Shanahan at out-half and scrum-half respectively.

Matt Faddes lines out at centre for the first time in an Ulster shirt, having previously featured at full-back. Rob Herring returns to the side after his brief stint in Japan. Nick Timoney comes back into the side at no.7 as Sean Reidy drops to the bench.

Ospreys v Connacht
Guinness Pro14, round 5 – Ospreys v Connacht.

Connacht’s dramatic late win over the Cheetahs last time out came at a cost. Both of their starting  second-row’s, Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux, picked up knocks and have been replaced by Ultan Dillane and Joe Maskymiw for the trip to the Liberty stadium.

In another enforced change Andy Friend brings Dominic Robertson-McCoy in for his first start for the injured Finlay Bealham. There is also a change at hooker as Dave Heffernan comes in for Tom McCartney.

Elsewhere, Tom Farrell who scored two tries off the bench against the Cheetahs starts alongside Peter Robb at centre and Darragh Leader return at full-back.

Cardiff v Munster
Guinness Pro14, round 5 – Munster side to face Cardiff.

Its wholesale changes for Munster’s trip to Cardiff as Johann van Graan makes eleven changes from the side that beat the Ospreys 28-12 in Cork last weekend. Only Jack O’Donoghue who captains the side, Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash and Shane Daly are retained. Daly moves from the wing to full-back as Alex Wootton come in on the wing. Sam Arnold starts alongside Goggin at centre.

It’s an all-new front row as Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne and debutant Keynan Knox pack down together. In the second row Finnen Wycherley and Darren O’Shea pair-up. In the back-row O’Donoghue is retained at no.6 while the South African pairing of Chris Cloete and Arno Botha team-up.

Full Guinness Pro14 tables