RaboDirect Pro12 Betting: Weekend Preview

The Tullow Tank: Sean O' Brien

After Ireland's crucial win over Argentina attention turns to the RaboDirect Pro12 this weekend. Cormac O' Keeffe previews the games involving the four Irish provinces...

"The Scarlets have a great chance of ending Ulster’s 11-game unbeaten run."

Munster v Glasgow

Munster's remarkable run at Musgrave Park came to an end against the Scarlets on Sunday as Andy Fenby profited from a Felix Jones error. In poor conditions Munster probably edged it in terms of try-scoring chances but they failed to convert and they need a win this weekend to bounce back and stay close to the playoff places. At least Munster have their wonderful record at Thomond Park to fall back on. Leinster are the only side to emerge victorious from the hallowed turf on Thomond in the league since April 2010. Furthermore, Munster's record against Scottish sides is exceptional and Glasgow have only won one of their last 14 matches in Ireland and I expect this poor run to continue this weekend.

Leinster ended Glasgow's six-match unbeaten run with a 6-0 win in conditions that were not conducive to attractive rugby. The Scottish side have perhaps been the surprise package of this year's competition and have won two-thirds of their matches, including impressive away wins against the Ospreys and Cardiff. They welcome back a number of Scottish internationals this week and are also boosted by the return to fitness of Duncan Weir.

Munster are without Niall Ronan but they welcome back six players who featured in Ireland's win over Argentina, including Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, and Donncha Ryan who all started the match. James Coughlan also returns after a lengthy absence and overall it looks like a very strong starting XV.

Scarlets v Ulster

The top two in the Pro12 table do battle at Parc Y Scarlets on Sunday. The home side are on a great run and their first ever victory at Musgrave Park extends their winning run to five games in all competitions. The Ospreys and Leinster are the only sides to have returned from Parc Y Scarlets with a Pro12 win since the beginning of last season.

Ulster continued their perfect start to the season with a hard-fought win away to Treviso. The Italian side's efforts mirrored those of the Italian national side at the weekend as they missed a crucial late penalty. It was the second consecutive week that Ulster have been rather lucky to maintain their 100 percent record and I feel that their luck and winning run may run out this week against a Scarlets side in top form. After securing their first win over Munster in 15 games the Scarlets have a great chance of ending Ulster's 11-game unbeaten run. The main doubt is that they will be without their international starts as Wales take on Australia.

Connacht v Edinburgh

Two of the bottom five sides do battle at the Sportground on Saturday. Connacht lost 14-3 against fellow strugglers the Dragons at Rodney Parade. The Welsh side scored the only try of the game when Connacht were down to 13 men meaning that the Irish province suffered their fourth consecutive defeat on the road.

Edinburgh secured a good home win over the Ospreys despite missing a number of key internationals. It was only their third win of the season and their first win in eight games in all competitions. The Scottish side have a terrible record against the Irish provinces and have not won on the road since January. Connacht won the reverse fixture last season, a win that remains their last victory over a Scottish side but I think that they'll add to that win this weekend in a low-scoring match.

Leinster v Zebre

Leinster host whipping boys Zebre at the RDS on Saturday in what should be a one-sided encounter. Two Ian Madigan penalties were enough to secure Leinster's second away win of the season against Glasgow at Scotstoun last Friday. The return of Isa Nacewa and Sean O' Brien were big boosts for the reigning European champions and they will be further strengthened this week by the return of their international stars. However, they have to plan for the next few months without Quinn Roux who dislocated his shoulder against Glasgow.

Zebre added to their ever-growing list of defeats with a home loss to Cardiff on Sunday. The Italians have lost all their games this season, are the lowest scoring side in the competition by some distance, and have just three losing bonus points to show for their efforts. They may improve over time but at the moment they are completely out of their depth and could take a big hiding this weekend. They have lost their away games by an average of 20 points this season and haven't met a side as good as Leinster.

Recommended bets

Back Munster
Back Scarlets
Back Connacht by under 12.5 points
Back Leinster by over 12.5 points

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