Celtic League: Week 18: Friday, March 18 (live Setanta Sports)Munster v Ulster, Musgrave Park, 7.00pm
Leaders the Ospreys lie 12 points clear of Alan Gaffney's - who have a game in hand - with just four regulation rounds remaining. The Welsh region entertain the Dragons simultaneously this evening to add spice to the competition's closing stages.
If Munster can garner at least a point from their provincial derby with Ulster, they will keep the pressure on Lyn Jones' pacesetters. However a Munster loss by more than seven points coinciding with an Ospreys win, will see the Celtic crown go to Wales for the second successive year.
UCC captain Frank Murphy - recently added to the province's Heineken Cup squad - will gain his first start for Munster, with Gaffney handing the captain's armband to 72-cap veteran Jim Williams.
In all, Munster show five changes - and one positional switch - from the side which lost 30-20 in Cardiff last time out - Shaun Payne replaces the injured Christian Cullen at full-back, with Payne's vacated outside centre berth going to Mike Mullins.
Murphy replaces Mike Prendergast at pivot, while in the forwards, Frank Roche and Jerry Flannery take over from Ireland-tied Marcus Horan and Frankie Sheahan. With youngster Stephen Keogh on the bench, his Shannon colleague Alan Quinlan takes over in the back row.
Third-from-bottom Ulster have their own agenda in Cork - coach Mark McCall stated that he wanted five wins in their final five games and that run got off to a good start last time against Glasgow (30-3).
Connacht currently lie seventh as the third-placed Irish side - but McCall's charges are a single point behind, with a game-in-hand to come.
Full-back Bryn Cunningham - who sustained a collarbone blow for Ireland 'A' last week - has been passed fit and will start in Cork - as will Dungannon centre Seamus Mallon.
Veteran Andy Ward will deputise for benched skipper Campbell Feather, while Ulster have to do without prop Simon Best - who is likely to travel to Wales with the Ireland squad as cover for loosehead Reggie Corrigan (knee) in Cardiff.
The bad news for McCall is that Ulster have only picked up one win in Cork since December 1990. Munster also boast the only unbeaten home record in the league this season.
Head-to-head since 2001: Munster 3, Ulster 3League form: Munster WWLWL, Ulster LWLLWTop scorers: Munster: Paul Burke 112 points / Christian Cullen 8 tries; Ulster: David Humphreys 78 / Tommy Bowe 6
(15) Shaun Payne(14) John Kelly(13) Mike Mullins(12) Rob Henderson(11) Anthony Horgan(10) Paul Burke(9) Frank Murphy(1) Frank Roche(2) Jerry Flannery(3) Gordon McIlwham(4) Trevor Hogan(5) Tom Bowman(6) Alan Quinlan(7) David Wallace(8) Jim Williams (Capt)
(15) Bryn Cunningham(14) Tommy Bowe(13) Seamus Mallon(12) Paul Steinmetz(11) Tyrone Howe(10) Adam Larkin(9) Kieran Campbell(1) Ronan McCormack(2) Paul Shields(3) Rod Moore(4) Gary Longwell(5) Matt McCullough(6) Andy Ward (Capt)(7) Neil Best(8) Roger Wilson
(16) Nigel Brady(17) Bryan Young(18) Tim Barker(19) Campbell Feather(20) Neil Doak(21) Scott Young(22) Shane Stewart
Referee: Andy Ireland (Scotland)