Back to basics this weekend as the Magners League enters round 17 and some intereting Irish clashes. How will last week’s teammates fare when the come head to head?
With the RBS Six Nations championship now consigned to history, attention returns to the Magners League this weekend with four games taking place, including a huge clash in Belfast on Friday night when second placed Ulster face Munster. Ulster are unbeaten at Ravenhill in the league for 13 matches, while Munster will be looking to ease themselves up the table – as well as create a springboard for their Heineken Cup quarter final next weekend.
Munster’s European opponents, Llanelli Scarlets, are also in action on Friday night when they face Newport Gwent Dragons, themselves European Challenge Cup quarter finalists, at Stradey Park – the first of six home league games for Scarlets before the end of the season. The Dragons have never won at Stradey and victory for the home side will take the Scarlets above the Dragons and could take them up to fourth place in the league.
Also on Friday night there is a Scottish derby with high flying Edinburgh travelling to the Border Reivers who will be keen to secure a victory over another Scottish side for the first time since New Year’s Eve 2005. However Edinburgh have lost their last two league games – slipping to fifth in the table – and will see Friday night as an opportunity to bounce back when they face the league’s basement side.
The final game of the weekend is another derby with Leinster and Connacht in action on Saturday. Leinster, who lead the table, are the third Magners League side with a Heineken Cup semi final next weekend. A home win would set up Leinster for their game with London Wasps and victory would see them tie the record for the longest home winning run in the history of the league, currently held jointly by Ulster and the Dragons at 14 successive home wins. Connacht have lost their last five games against Leinsterbased and have not won in the capital since 2002.
You can keep up to date with all the team news here on IrishRugby.ie and on our MatchDayLive service at the weekend.