This week’s fixtures in rugby’s Pro 12 competition have been aptly titled the ‘Big Weekend’ as there’s seemingly derbies everywhere you turn in Ireland and Wales.
Leinster host Munster at the Aviva Stadium and Ulster travel to the Sportsground to play Connacht, while across the Irish Sea the Ospreys welcome Cardiff Blues to Liberty Stadium and Parc y Scarlets is the venue for the Scarlets v Newport Gwent Dragons clash.
It promises to be a passion-fuelled weekend and, with the November internationals on the horizon, players will be leaving no stone unturned in an attempt to appear on their countries squad lists.
With such a huge weekend in store, we’ve put together a tasty handicap treble on Round 6 that pays out at over 6/1.
Connacht v Ulster, Friday 7.35pm, TG4 & BBC NI
Ulster make the trip down to Connacht knowing full well the weight of history is massively in their favour. To be frank, Connacht’s record against Les Kiss’ men is appalling.
- In 26 meetings of the sides in the PRO 12, last season’s champions have only managed three victories and single draw with Friday’s visitors. Their last win in the fixture coming all the way back in April 2012 at the Sportsground.
Pat Lam’s charges have had a poor start to their title defence, losing their opening three games and only picked up their first win against a struggling Edinburgh last week. Ulster for their part roar into the contest top of the table and heavy favourites. They boast a perfect record and come into the tie battle hardened, after scrapping to a late 9-7 victory over a much fancied Ospreys outfit last week.
Despite Connacht, who are for a win, looking somewhat like their old selves last time out, Ulster are our pick in this one. Their record also suggests they should also cover the (-4.0) handicap too, so that’s the first part of our treble in the books.
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues, Friday 7.35pm, BBC Wales
With both these proud Welsh sides losing to Irish provinces last weekend, this contest could mighty tetchy.
Given the fact that the Ospreys have got the win ten times in-a-row in Pro 12 fixtures over the Blues and have home advantage in Swansea, you can see why our traders have them as favourites to claim the points.
The Blues, who can be found at , have scored wins in their last four away matches – their best run away from Cardiff Arms Park since 2010. However, they did come a cropper there last weekend in a 16-13 loss to Leinster.
Ospreys will see this a good chance to get their season back on track after back-to-back losses to Leinster and Ulster, so we’ll tip our cap to them on the (-5.0) handicap.
Leinster v Munster, Saturday 2.05pm, TG4 & Sky Sports
It’s not doing a disservice to the rest of the league to say that this is the clash most casual fans look for first on the fixture list.
With Munster currently just a single point above Leinster at second in the Pro 12 table, this truly is a heavyweight contest.
The overall head-to-head league record between the sides falls a little bit in Leinster’s favour – 17 wins to Munster’s 12. However, the only team to beat Leinster in the Pro 12 at the Aviva Stadium was Munster in 2014, so this one will be really tight.
Leinster impressed away in Wales last week, their victory over Blues is even more significant leading into the weekends fixture given that Cardiff are the only team to hold a victory over Munster this season.
Munster, to be honest, look in a good place under the tutelage of Rassie Erasmus, and will be out for revenge after Leinster double over them in the last campaign.
Things seemed to click for the men in red during last week’s home 49-5 annihilation of lowly Zebre, and there is nothing that will stir the blood more for them than the sight over those blue Leinster’s jerseys.
Leinster’s home advantage makes them slight favourites, with Munster at . The Dublin based outfit could sneak it, but we are going to take Munster’s handicap of (+4.0) as the bet to round out our ‘try-ing’ treble.