With RBS 6 Nations still in full swing, the Magners League once again kicks off on Thursday evening, with the Scarlets hosting Edinburgh in Llanelli.
A last-minute defeat to Ulster in the previous round has seen the Scarlets drop out of the play-off zone, and with now less than a third of the season left, they will be keen to return to winning ways. However, they have never completed a season’s double over visitors Edinburgh.
There are three games on Friday night, starting with Ulster v Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill. Results over previous weeks have meant that the hosts have slipped out of the top-four, and are five points adrift of a play-off spot but with a game in hand.
The Blues, however, have recorded four successive wins and have climbed up the table into second place, so both teams will be searching for the win.
Another Irish province, Leinster, will also be in action on Friday night, this time welcoming Italian opposition, Benetton Treviso.
Leinster’s home record is impressive and although Treviso have not won outside Italy, they will be keen to add another Irish scalp to their recent victory over Munster.
The last game on Friday will see Glasgow Warriors take on the Newport Gwent Dragons. The Dragons are gradually improving their position in the table, attaining their highest place this season with two games in hand over most of their rivals.
The Warriors’ movement in the table is in reverse, so again a win is vital for both teams’ aspirations.
There are no games on Saturday, so the round concludes with two matches on Sunday. League leaders Munster travel to Italy for the second time in two weeks, and will be careful to avoid any repeat of their last trip which saw defeat to Benetton Treviso by one point.
Aironi, on the other hand, are still looking for their first Magners League win, and even though the gap between their positions in the table could not be wider, the hosts will be hoping to record a shock victory.
The round wraps up at the Liberty Stadium where the Ospreys entertain in-form Connacht. Having returned to the top-four, the Ospreys will be keen to cement a play-off spot over the final third of the season.
But, Connacht have enjoyed some success in their last few games, including last weekend’s bonus point win over Glasgow, so an away victory cannot be ruled out.
MAGNERS LEAGUE – ROUND 16 FIXTURES:
Thursday, February 24 –
Scarlets v Edinburgh, Parc y Scarlets, 7.35pm (live S4C)
Friday, February 25 –
ULSTER v Cardiff Blues, Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland)
LEINSTER v Benetton Treviso, the RDS, 7.10pm (live RTE 2)
Glasgow Warriors v Newport Gwent Dragons, Firhill Stadium, 7.50pm (live BBC ALBA)
Sunday, February 27 –
Aironi Rugby v MUNSTER, Stadio Zaffanella, 2pm local time/1pm Irish time
Ospreys v CONNACHT, Liberty Stadium, 2.30pm