Leinster (11) 17/15 (10) Glasgow Warriors
Stuart Hogg’s late missed conversion proved costly for Glasgow Warriors as they were cruelly denied a first RaboDirect PRO12 final by a clinical Leinster side at the RDS in Dublin yesterday, with Leinster holding on for a 17-15 victory.
After 132 games over 22 rounds just four of the 12 participating teams now go forward to the knock-out phase in the quest to find the RaboDirect Pro12 champions of 2012/13.
With just four points separating the top three teams who have already qualified for the Pro12 play-offs, no-one can yet be certain of their position in the table.
The RaboDirect PRO12 is in line to record its best ever attendances since the competition changed to a home and away format ten seasons ago.
It was all change yet again at the top of the Pro12 table following Round 20, with Ulster retaking the top position, whilst Glasgow Warriors slipped to third.
And with just two rounds left, and a maximum of 10 points on offer, five teams are still vying for the four play-off places.
Round 17 of the Pro12 kicks off with five games on Friday, with both contenders for the top spot in action.
There was good news for clubs on both sides of the Central Belt as the services of two valuable loose forwards were announced. Glasgow Warriors have managed to secure the services of prodigal son Richie Vernon once more while Roddy Grant has extended his contract with Edinburgh Rugby.
With just seven rounds left in the regular season of the PRO12, the race is really on for a top four finish, and qualification for the play-offs. In the pick of the games this weekend first plays second when leaders Ulster travel to face Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on Friday night.
With a pause in the international matches, the Pro12 takes centre stage again this weekend with games in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
First up on Friday night table toppers Ulster welcome Zebre to Ravenhill. The leaders will be keen to get back to their winning ways having suffered only their second defeat in this season’s campaign at the hands of Ospreys last week.
Scottish Rugby announced on Thursday that it had secured the biggest sponsorship deal in its history.
New kit partner, Macron, will come on board in the summer to become official kit supplier for all Scotland representative teams and the professional clubs, Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.
Despite their loss to Munster at Thomond Park last Saturday, Ulster remain clear at the top of the Pro12 table as we start the New Year.
Ulster have a nine-point lead over second placed Scarlets, who they welcome to Ravenhill on Friday.
Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby did battle yesterday in the Rabo Direct Pro12 at Murrayfield. The match also doubled up as the second leg of the 1872 Cup. Glasgow won the first leg of the cup game last weekend at their home ground, Scotstoun Stadium, by nine points. Glasgow were comfortably in front in yesterday’s game, leading by 18 points on the 55 minute mark. However, a late rally by Edinburgh made for an exiting finish, FINAL SCORE : Edinburgh 17 - 21 Glasgow.
Rather than bring one match report I thought for a change would post two match reports, one from either camp. There is some repetition but it is interesting to see the reports as written from ‘both sides of the fence’.
At the half-way point of the regular season Ulster sit atop of the Pro12 table with a perfect won 11 out of 11 record.
The leaders face Munster in one of four games on Saturday, safe in the knowledge that regardless of other results, they will enter 2013 as table toppers.
This weekend sees further action in the RaboDirect Pro12 as this season’s competition enters the twelfth round of matches in the league stage. Most of the games will be completed during the weekend but one of the matches, Scarlets versus Ospreys, is scheduled for the afternoon of Monday afternoon.
The attention in Scotland in particular will, for the second week in a row, be centred on the derby match between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors. This match will take place at Murrayfield on Saturday, kick off due 18.05 South African Time.
After a few weeks of Heineken Cup rugby this weekend seems the return to action in the major leagues in the form of the Aviva Premiership and the Rabbo Direct Pro12 as well as the French Top 14. Of particular interest in Scotland is the big derby match between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh on Friday night in Glasgow.
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