Round 14 of the Magners League kicks off in Dublin on Thursday evening when Leinster welcome Italian outfit, Aironi, to the RDS for the first time. Leinster are the only one of the top four teams at home this round and will want to make that advantage count.
On Friday night Cardiff Blues travel to Glasgow Warriors. Blues, who hold the last Play-Off place, may be 12 points adrift of the leaders, but have a game in hand over all 3 teams ahead of them as well as their nearest rivals for a top four spot, Ospreys.
There are two games on Saturday; Newport Gwent Dragons hosting Edinburgh and Connacht playing second placed Scarlets, Edinburgh will be looking for victory to kick start their challenge for the Play-Offs as they have been stuck in 7th place since round eight. In the other game it is Scarlets who will be pushing for a win as only 5 points, or one win, separate the teams lying in second to fifth place in the table.
The round wraps up with two games on Sunday: Munster, who have topped the table since round two and are now 9 points clear of their nearest rivals, travel to Italy to play Benetton Treviso, their second meeting this season.
In the final game Ulster will be looking for a victory to reverse their decline having slipped from 3rd to 6th place over the course of 3 rounds, whilst Ospreys need the win to regain their Play-Off place.
Thursday 10 February
LEINSTER v AIRONI RUGBY
At RDS Dublin, 7.05pm. Live on RTE Sport. Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 70th League game)
Assistant Referees: D Wilkinson, M Hermin (both IRFU). TMO: Peter Ferguson (IRFU).
Leinster have won their last six matches in all competitions, since their 13-20 reversal in Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup on 12 December. The Leinstermen’s only defeat in the Magners League since September was 15-19 at the Ospreys on 28 November. Aironi’s only victory this season came at home to Biarritz in the Heineken Cup on 11 December. Aironi are still without a point from any game played outside of Italy. This match is the first meeting between the two teams.
Friday 11 February
GLASGOW WARRIORS v CARDIFF BLUES
At Firhill Stadium, 7.35pm. Live on BBC Wales
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU, 11th League game). Assistant Referees: Ian Heard, Alan Forrest (both SRU). TMO: Ian Ramage (SRU).
European Cup. The Warriors’ only victory in their last four Magners League matches was 30-18 at home to Edinburgh on 27 December. Cardiff Blues have won their last two matches in the Magners League but have been victorious just once on the road in their last five encounters in all competitions. The Blues have won their last five games against Scottish opponents. The Blues have won their last two matches against Glasgow.
Saturday 12 February
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS V EDINBURGH RUGBY
At Rodney Parade, 2pm
Referee: Alan Falzone (FIR, 2nd League game).Assistant Referees: Colin Kirkhouse, Neil Hennessy (both WRU).
Newport Gwent Dragons’ last four games in the Magners League have all been won by the home side on the day. Edinburgh Rugby have lost their last three matches in all competitions since beating Glasgow 28-17 on 2 January. Edinburgh have won just once away from home since December 2009: 10-9 at Aironi in the Magners League on 2 October, and have lost their last six games against Welsh opponents. Edinburgh have won just one of their last six matches against the Dragons: 43-3 at Murrayfield on 9 May 2009.
CONNACHT v SCARLETS
At Sportsground, 7.35pm. Live on TG4
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (SRU, 3rd League game). Assistant Referees: L Colgan, J Quinn (both IRFU). TMO: Seamus Flannery (IRFU).
Connacht have won their last two matches against Bayonne and Prato in the Amlin Challenge Cup. Connacht have not won in the Magners League since round three when they beat Glasgow Warriors 19-17 at Firhill on 17 September. Scarlets only defeat in their last five Magners League games was 17-60 at Ospreys on 27 December. The Welshmen have lost on their last eight visits to Ireland since beating Connacht in Galway 17-14 on 9 January 2009. Connacht have won just one of their last five encounters with Scarlets: 16-10 at the Sportsground on 30 October 2009.
Sunday 13 February
BENETTON TREVISO v MUNSTER
At Stadio Monigo, 2pm local time (1pm UK & Ireland). Live on Dhalia TV and TG4
Referee: James Jones (WRU, 47th League game). Assistant Referees: Stefano Penne, Filippo Bertelli (both FIR). TMO: Giulio de Santis (FIR).
Benetton Treviso have lost their last three matches since their Christmas double over rivals Aironi. Treviso have won four home games in the Magners League this season – against Scarlets, Leinster, Dragons and Connacht. Munster have won their last four games in the Magners League since their 6-20 defeat at Newport Gwent Dragons on 26 November. The Munstermen have a perfect played 11, won 11 record in previous encounters with Italian opponents. The two teams met in round six at Thomond Park with Munster running out 39-13 winners.
OSPREYS v ULSTER
At Liberty Stadium, 5.10pm. Live on S4C
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU, 30th League game). Assistant Referees: David Jones, Greg Morgan (both WRU). TMO: Huw Lewis (WRU).
Ospreys have lost their last two games in the Magners League, but are unbeaten at home in any competition since Dragons visited Liberty Stadium in the Magners League on 30 October and won 21-16. Ulster have won their last three matches in all competitions since their 10-35 defeat at Munster in the Magners League on New Year’s Day. This reversal represents the Ulstermen’s only loss on the road in their last five trips. Ulster have won two of their last three games against Ospreys, and have been victorious on two of their previous six visits to Liberty Stadium.
How do you think the weekend will go? Care to name the six winners?