Rugby – Guinness PRO12 Previews Round 16

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CONNACHT returned to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table after their bonus point win in Italy, whilst the previous leaders, Ulster, dropped to fourth following their defeat by the narrowest of margins to Scarlets. Ulster’s losing bonus point in that game was the 50th claimed so far this season, that tally has only been bettered in an entire season on three occasions – and there’s still seven rounds to play.

In fact 280 points in total were scored in the six games last weekend, the best in a round this season, helped no doubt by the 85 points scored in the game in Parma – the 4th biggest match tally in PRO12 history. Benetton Treviso’s Ludovico Nitoglia became the first Italian to make 100 PRO12 appearances and also became just the sixth player to score a try on his 100th game, whilst Munster’s Ian Keatley racked up his 150th Guinness PRO12 appearance.

Just four points separate the teams in the Play-Off Zone, but second placed Leinster have a game in hand over Scarlets, Ulster and leaders Connacht. Connacht are the only one of the top four at home this weekend, and face Ospreys who along with Edinburgh and Munster are the three teams level on 38 points battling it out for European Champions Cup qualification.

Current champions Glasgow Warriors lie eighth in the table, but still have two games in hand over most of their rivals, so could make a late push for a Play-Off place, whilst Benetton Treviso’s two consecutive wins have closed the gap to Zebre to just four points for the Italian spot in Europe’s top tier next season.

 The Guinness PRO12 Final will take place at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday 28th May 2016. See www.pro12rugby.com for ticket details.

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