Round 4 of the PRO14 certainly threw up some shock and unexpected results. The weekend’s action provided a much-needed boost to the competition after the initial rounds resulted in expected outcomes. The performance of the newly-joined South African sides had been poor and already, the merit of their inclusion was beginning to be questioned.
Here we take a look at some of the major talking points from the weekend’s action.
Work To Do For Munster
Munster suffered a disappointing 37-10 defeat to the Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun. The Warriors are a serious outfit but not many predicted such a poor showing from the men in red. Their difficulties in defence were reminiscent of the PRO12 final against Scarlets in May.
However, one defeat doesn’t make Rassie Erasmus’ side a bad team. The province are still to welcome back their British and Irish Lions contingent, and they will soon be welcoming back players from injury in addition to the arrival of Chris Cloete.
The province faces a home tie against the Cardiff Blues this weekend in Thomond Park where they will be hoping to build some confidence ahead of an away tie against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium and their first two rounds of Champions Cup action thereafter.
Worrying Start For Connacht
Connacht currently lie third in Conference A but that is with three defeats and one victory. They have already lost to the Glasgow Warriors and the Dragons to compound their most recent defeat at home to the Cardiff Blues.
It’s going to take some time for Connacht to get to grips with their new gameplan implemented by Kieran Keane but their start must be a worry, especially in games against the Dragons and the Blues which they would have expected to win.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Westerners. They face defending champions Scarlets next and then face a trip to the Kingspan Stadium to face the competition’s form side, Ulster.
A win in one of these fixtures would be a huge boost to their confidence and it would provide the perfect platform to kickstart their season.
The Bloemfontein Factor
The Cheetahs opened their PRO14 campaign with two away defeats to Ulster and Munster. Their performance in both of those games led to the placement of question marks over their competitiveness in this competition.
However, at home and at altitude, they look a real force. On home soil, they recorded victories over Zebre and most recently, Leinster. Their attacking talent aside, they displayed some dominant forward play against Leo Cullen’s side, especially at scrum time. If they can maintain their form at home and pick up an away win here and there, they could well be in the mix come the end of the campaign.
Bennetton Rugby have recorded back-to-back wins in the PRO14 and it’s not often that we say that. An away win over Edinburgh and a famous home victory against the Ospreys certainly raised some eyebrows. It’s important to state that their loss to Ulster in Round 2 was a very competitive affair too.
We’ve seen these kind of results on occasion in the past from the Italian sides but they have failed to maintain the momentum throughout a whole season. However, Bennetton look to have an extra edge about them this year and their improvement will be a huge boost to the league.
What can you about Ulster? On paper they have one of the strongest XVs in the competition, but so often in recent seasons we have seen them fall away when the business end of proceedings emerge.
They and Glasgow are the only undefeated teams in the competition and their destruction of the Dragons this weekend was a real eye-opener to the talent they have at their disposal.
For so long, Ulster have disappointed but based on current performances, this could be the year they finally make a serious push for silverware, in the PRO14 at least.
Conference A Table
Conference B Table