The last round of Magners League fixtures before the start of the 2010 RBS 6 Nations Championship includes home matches for all four of the provinces – Connacht host the Dragons, Leinster entertain table toppers Glasgow, the Ospreys are Ulster’s opponents at Ravenhill and Munster finish off the round by welcoming the Scarlets to Cork.
Round 11 of the Magners League opens at the Sportsground in Galway on Friday night when the Newport Gwent Dragons are the visitors.
Connacht are building a good record at home, especially against Welsh regions, so if the Dragons are to keep challenging for a top four play-off spot, they will have to complete a first season’s double over their hosts since the 2003/04 season.
There are two further games in Ireland on Friday – in the north, Ulster host Ospreys, while in Dublin European champions Leinster welcome the current Magners League leaders, Glasgow Warriors, to the RDS.
Leinster have won their last ten Magners League fixtures played at the Dublin 4 ground and the Warriors are looking to set a new Glasgow record as they are unbeaten in their last six Magners League matches.
So there is plenty to play for in Friday’s clash. A bonus point victory for Leinster, who now have a game in hand, could see them draw level on points with Warriors at the top of the table.
Ulster will also be defending a good home record, having won five of their last six matches at Ravenhill in all competitions.
Their opponents, the Ospreys, may not have won in Belfast since September 2007, but they have won three of their last four away fixtures in the Magners League.
Victory for the visitors could, depending on other results, propel them to the top of the standings, but Ulster will be determined to enhance their play-off chances and need the points themselves to keep in touch with the top four.
On Saturday, early season leaders Edinburgh, one of only two sides to have remained at the top of the Magners League for two or more rounds this season, will be hoping to put the disappointment of the festive derby games behind them with the visit of Cardiff Blues.
The Blues will be looking for a victory to keep them in touch with the play-off zone, and to distance themselves from the fourth-placed Welsh team, the Scarlets.
Munster have won their last 13 home games in all competitions, while their opponents on Sunday, the Scarlets, claimed their only previous win on Munster soil at Thomond Park in September 2003.
With an eye on European qualification, the Welsh region need a victory to reduce the gap between themselves and the top three Welsh sides. A Munster success would see them maintain their position in the top four.
MAGNERS LEAGUE – ROUND 11 FIXTURES:
Friday, January 8 –
CONNACHT v Newport Gwent Dragons, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
ULSTER v Ospreys, Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/BBC Wales)
LEINSTER v Glasgow Warriors, The RDS, 8pm (live Setanta Sports 1)
Saturday, January 9 –
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues, Murrayfield, 6.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/S4C)
Sunday, January 10 –
MUNSTER v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 5pm (live Setanta Sports 1/S4C)