The British & Irish Cup enters the double header phase of the pool stages where the same two teams face each other on back-to-back weekends.
In all bar one of the six pools there are top of the table clashes to look forward to, meaning the next fortnight is likely to be make-or-break time for many of the participants.
Something has to give in Pool 1 as pool leaders and defending champions Leinster ‘A’ go up against their nearest rivals Cross Keys.
Along with Pontypridd, Cross Keys are the only Welsh side to reach the semi-final stages of the cross-border competition. Both sides have nine points after recording wins in their first two games.
Moseley play Ealing Trailfinders at Billesley Common. Ealing go into the tie on a high, having won for the first time this season with a 28-18 victory at Jersey.
Pool 2 pacesetters and defending Welsh Premiership champions Pontypridd welcome in-form Championship side London Scottish to Sardis Road.
A 3,400-strong crowd turned out to see the Valley Commandos’ last British & Irish Cup fixture: a commendable 29-22 win over London Welsh that gave Cardiff Blues-bound coach Dale McIntosh a fitting send-off.
Scottish are second in the pool with winless London Welsh and Edinburgh Academicals, who play each other at Old Deer Park, bringing up the rear.
Pool 3 is shaping up to be the tightest of pools with just two points separating all four sides a third of the way through the fixtures.
Bedford’s narrow win over Llanelli in round 2 – their first victory of the season – puts them level on points with the Scarlets.
The improving Blues will go into the game in buoyant mood after becoming the first side to beat London Welsh in the Championship this season. A first ever meeting with Rotherham Titans awaits Llanelli in round 3, while Bedford head to Ireland to play Connacht Eagles.
For the second year running, Plymouth Albion and past winners Munster ‘A’ are paired together in Devon. This Pool 4 tie is sure to be a keenly-contested affair as both sides are unbeaten and top the pool with nine points apiece.
Munster ‘A’ won 26-22 at Brickfields in the pool stages of last year’s competition. Nottingham are away to Stirling County.
Aberavon face three British & Irish Cup games in quick succession after their original tie against Bristol was abandoned and rescheduled between the Wizards’ two games against Pool 5 leaders Leeds Carnegie. Bristol are at home to Gala prior to their trip to the Talbot Athletic Ground on Tuesday December 10th.
In Pool 6, inaugural British & Irish Cup winners Cornish Pirates come up against Championship rivals Jersey, who they defeated at home and away in the first and last matches of the 2012/13 league campaign.
Pirates, like Pontypridd in Pool 2, are the only side to boast a perfect 10 points from 10 record after the first two rounds of action. Influential Jersey scrum half Nicky Griffiths heads a list of former Pirates set to return to their former home. The remaining Pool 6 tie sees Ulster Ravens travel to Ayr.
BRITISH & IRISH CUP – ROUND 3 FIXTURES:
Friday, December 6 –
Moseley v Ealing Trailfinders, Billesley Common, 7.30pm
Plymouth Albion v Munster ‘A’, Brickfields, 7.45pm
Saturday, December 7 –
London Welsh v Edinburgh Academicals, Old Deer Park, 2pm
Leinster ‘A’ v Cross Keys, Donnybrook, 2.30pm
Pontypridd v London Scottish, Sardis Road, 2.30pm
Connacht Eagles v Bedford Blues, the Sportsground, 2.30pm
Aberavon v Leeds Carnegie, Talbot Athletic Ground, 3pm
Stirling County v Nottingham, Bridgehaugh, 3pm
Ayr v Ulster Ravens, Millbrae, 2.30pm
Llanelli v Rotherham Titans, Parc y Scarlets, 3.30pm
Cornish Pirates v Jersey, Mennaye Field, 7pm
Sunday, December 8 –
Bristol v Gala, Memorial Stadium, 2pm