Sunday 16 December 2018

Leinster face tricky start on the road

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Defending champions Leinster have been handed a tricky opening schedule to their Guinness PRO14 title defence after being drawn to play their opening two games away from home.

Leo Cullen's double winners must travel to Cardiff and then fierce rivals Scarlets in the opening fortnight when they will also be without their sizeable international contingent who will be rested by the IRFU.

Munster, who will be bidding to end their trophy drought next season, have been granted an opening day fixture at home to Cheetahs before they travel to Glasgow Warriors in round two.

In contrast to Leinster, Ulster will be keen to make up for a catastrophic campaign on and off the pitch when they kick off their programme with a run of two successive home games at Kingspan Stadium against last season's beaten finalists Scarlets, and Edinburgh, the side that pipped them to the knockout stages.

New Connacht coach Andy Friend will also hope to hit the ground running on the back of a poor campaign when they also get two fixtures in familiar Galway territory.

They begin with Glasgow before former fans' favourite Michael Bradley will seek to repeat last year's shock win with his Zebre outfit.

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