Merry Christmas everyone, I hope that you’re having a good time and there’s certainly enough rugby going on. It’s derby time in the Pro14 so the Italian and Scottish sides are playing the same teams home and away. It’s slightly different for the Irish and Welsh sides and the South African sides are having a summer break.
You can help to fuel the DrivingMaul with a coffee over on the right of the page
As with Super Rugby I’ll be testing my predictions in DrivingMaul v the Bookie. Check out how I did against the TAB in Round 8.
Cardiff Blues v Dragons – Cardiff Blues by 3
Cardiff are on a bit of a run of form having won their last 3 games in the Pro14. Sure it might not have been against the toughest of opposition but then again Dragons aren’t either.
To be fair Dragons are improved under Dean Ryan. Their moral will be really improved after a last minute drop goal win last weekend over Scarlets. However I just can’t see them doing that back to back and think Cardiff will extend their run.
Scarlets v Ospreys – Scarlets by 7
Two sides that will be hurting after last weekend. Both sides lost by less than a score which if anything does show some improvement for Ospreys.
I do wonder how much the uncertainty around the Scarlets coaching setup is effecting things. The noises are that it’s more and more likely that Brad Mooar will be leaving to join the All Blacks as an assistant coach. Still they are up against one of the weakest sides in the competition and so should get the home win.
Ulster v Connacht Rugby – Ulster by 5
Both these sides might be second in their conferences but they are starting to lose touch with the leaders. That’s especially true for Ulster after they lost to Leinster last weekend.
Connacht are closer but also have much more competition behind them too. If you just look at the stats Connacht are two wins from three away trips. However those wins were over Dragons and Ospreys. Ulster are another matter entirely and I think we’ll see a home win.
Benetton Treviso v Zebre Rugby Club – Benetton Treviso by 7
Basically Benetton are the stronger of the two Italian sides and we saw that last weekend with their 5 point away win over Treviso. I expect we’ll see something similar this weekend too.
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors – Edinburgh by 5
Despite their loss last weekend, Edinburgh are still in the hunt in Conference B. They were helped by the teams around them also losing. A win this weekend and they could be right up there with Munster. Whilst they came up short against Glasgow last weekend they are really a home loving side and should reverse that result.
Munster v Leinster – Leinster by 3
By far this is the hardest game to call this weekend. Both these sides are having a good season and top their Conferences. Leinster though are something special and haven’t lost a game all season.
The fly in the ointment though is the player welfare protocols that the IRFU run. It means that players have to be rested over the festive period. I don’t know which game(s) that the coaches will choose but historically it’s the away games. SO whilst I’m going with Leinster, we might see a weakened side get turned over down in Limerick.
Record So Far
41 from 55 or 75% right
Don’t miss out by signing-up for the DrivingMaul newsletter that comes out every Thursday with links to all the best posts and videos.