RaboDirect PRO12 Round 16 Previews: Connacht, Munster, Ulster, Leinster, Glasgow Warriors, Newport Gwent Dragons, Benetton Treviso, Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Aironi: Includes 12 Page Review

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RaboDirect PRO12 Round 16 Previews
For immediate release: Monday 20th February 2012
Issued on behalf of RaboDirect PRO12Christine Connolly
This weekend’s round of RaboDirect PRO12 kicks off on Thursday night, when Benetton Treviso are the visitors to Parc y Scarlets. They may be only one place apart in the table, but Treviso are 7 points behind Scarlets; the home side will need to continue their good vein of form if they want to make it to the Play-Offs.
The three games on Friday night all fall within the auspices of the IRFU, with games at Connacht, Munster and Ulster. Whilst victory for Connacht could see them leapfrog over their opponents in the table, the other two games bring the battle for the top four places into sharp focus.
Munster and Glasgow Warriors have traded 3rd and 4th places for 4 weeks running, just two point now separate them in the table, but the Irish Province have a game in hand. Munster’s opponents this week, Cardiff Blues, are just outside the POZ, but victory, should other result go their way, could bring a coveted top four spot for the Blues.

The top two teams have stayed the same since Round 10, and whilst Leinster are now 10 point clear of the chasing pack, the prospect of a home Play-Off on offer means that second placed Ospreys will be looking to consolidate their position. However a trip to Ravenhill on a Friday night, with Ulster themselves aiming for a top four finish, is not the place to go in search of points.

There’s just one game on Saturday, in what could be a taster of the Play-Offs when Leinster face Glasgow Warriors, albeit this time in Scotland. Both teams are building up impressive undefeated records, one of which will have to give if either side are to take a win from this encounter.

The round wraps up in Italy on Sunday when Newport Gwent Dragons are the visitors to Stadio Zaffanella to face another team at the wrong end of the table, Aironi. The Italian outfit are on a roll, having won their last two home games, and will be keen to add a Welsh Region to that tally.

Should he be selected, Connacht’s Michael Swift will equal Deiniol Jones record for the most number of games played in this competition, 139.

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