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Monday 20 August 2018

Schmidt's set to suffer again

The Scarlets v Leinster, Parc Y Scarlets, Tomorrow 6.30 (live on TG4 & S4C)

It would be very easy for Leinster coach Joe Schmidt to feel 'The Gods of Rugby' are conspiring to deny him of most of his fit and able squad players. The litany of injuries is already at crisis point.

Schmidt is just one more defeat away from the exact same start -- three losses out of four -- that had some observers calling for his head on a plate last season.

Of course, there is pressure to deliver structure, a coherent game plan and intensity from minute one of the season.

Leinster looked in reasonable shape in their pre-season jousts with the Melbourne Rebels and Northampton Saints.

Since then, they were simply overrun by the Ospreys and had their playing resources overstretched against Glasgow Warriors. Inexperienced players are simply swimming in unchartered waters.

Verdict: Scarlets.



Reds' run to end

Cardiff Blues v Munster, Cardiff City Stadium, tonight 7.05 (LIVE RTé2)

There will be no shortage of motivation for Cardiff to be the first club to halt leaders Munster's impressive start to the season. To that end, they have made seven changes.

Munster are now a record-breaking 13 matches unbeaten in the league and have coughed up just one try in their last six matches. Scrum-half Duncan Williams and centre Danny Barnes are back for Munster.

Verdict: Cardiff.

Cardiff: D Fish; A Cuthbert, G Evans, D Hewitt, R Mustoe; C Sweeney, R Rees; S Hobbs, R Thomas, S Andrews, P Tito (capt), D Jones, M Paterson, M Molitika, A Pretorius.

Munster: J Murphy; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley; I Keatley, D Williams; W du Preez, M Sherry, S Archer, B Holland, M O'Driscoll, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, J Coughlan.



West to hold up

Connacht v The Dragons, The Sportsground, tonight 7.30.

Connacht are seven without a loss in Galway and the Dragons don't look like loosening that stranglehold.

The Welsh franchise have not won on the road in this competition since February.

Verdict: Connacht.

Connacht: G Duffy; B Tuohy, E Griffin, H Fa'afili, T O'Halloran; N O'Connor, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Ah You, D Gannon, M McCarthy, J Muldoon, J O'Connor, R Ofisa.



Ulster have nous

The Ospreys v Ulster, The Liberty Stadium, Sunday 4.30 (LIVE S4C)

Two unbeaten clubs collide in a third-versus-second clash.

On the evidence of their three wins, Ulster are better equipped to deal with the Ospreys because the northern province has experience in key positions.

They know when to raise the tempo and when to slow it down. As the boxing cliché goes, 'someone's O has to Go'.

Verdict: Ulster

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