How are Munster and Leinster shaping up?

How are Munster and Leinster shaping up?

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Round 18 of the Guinness PRO14 was as competitive as ever and we got to witness a nervy win for Munster whilst Leinster were defeated away at Ospreys in a shock result.

Munster defeated second-placed Conference B side Scarlets 19-7 thanks to tries from James Hart, the excellent Robin Copeland and winger Alex Wootton.

Meanwhile, Leinster’s loss is just their fourth of the domestic season. Barry Daly and Rory O’Loughlin touched down for the Irish province but tries for Tom Habberfield, Justin Tipuric and Dan Evans got Ospreys over the line.

Now heading into the business end of the Guinness PRO14 season, we take a look at each province’s chances of making the Final Series.

Munster

Munster’s weekend win means they keep up pave with Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors, who won big at home to Zebre on Saturday.

The Warriors now lead with 70 points, 12 ahead of Munster, 18 ahead of the Toyota Cheetahs and 23 ahead of fourth-placed Cardiff Blues.

With three games left to play, Munster look virtually certain of making the Final Series, which will feature the top three sides from each conference.

The Limerick side play away at Southern Kings next, followed up by the Cheetahs and a home match against Ulster.

Glasgow have a game in hand and look to have top spot and a home semi-final fairly assured, barring any slip-ups, whilst Munster have a six-point advantage on the Cheetahs in the race for a home quarter-final spot.

That round 20 fixture in Bloemfontein thus increases in importance, with Munster and the South African side looking most likely to fight out that quarter-final at this stage.

Leinster

Despite their defeat to Ospreys at the weekend, Dublin-based province Leinster remain atop of Conference B with 64 points.

The Leinstermen are three ahead of Scarlets, five ahead of Edinburgh and 18 ahead of fourth-placed Ulster.

One more win would guarantee qualification for the Finals Series, but Leo Cullen’s men will clearly have their sights set on much higher targets – namely a home semi-final.

To do that they must stay ahead of the chasing pack and have fixtures against Zebre, Benetton Rugby and Connacht to round off the regular season.

If they can stay ahead of Scarlets and Edinburgh then they will achieve that home semi-final, with the second-placed side hosting a home quarter-final against the third-placed side when it comes to judgement day.

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