Another closely contested Magners League comes to a conclusion tonight as five teams battle it out for the final three places in the play offs.
League leaders Munster have secured a home semi final, sitting 14 points clear of their nearest rival, making their trip to Connaught tonight little more than a victory lap.
There are still some formalities to take care of for Leinster too, as they head into their clash with Glasgow Warriors buoyed from last Saturday’s performance against the heavyweights of Tolouse that secured their second Heineken Cup Final in three years.
Leinster have secured a spot in the play-offs but losing to second from bottom Glasgow – a possibility when you see that only four names from Saturday’s victory make it in to the starting line up in Dublin tonight – could see them losing the chance of a home semi final.
Below second place things get a little more exciting and only Treviso v Edinburgh having no significance on the outcome of the title.
Ulster can secure third place if they take at least a losing bonus point away from their game against the Newport-Gwent Dragons, and a victory could see them leapfrog into second place if second string Leinster fail to take any points.
Ulster should be wary though as even a losing bonus point is far from certain against a resurgent Dragons side at Rodney Parade, and coming home pointless could see the Irishmen fall out of the race completely.
A bonus point win for the Llanelli Scarletts over fourth-placed Cardiff Blues could see them sneak into the top four ahead of a chasing pack of Welsh regions.
While Cardiff are currently the best placed Welsh side they are currently without ten of their leading lights – including kickers Ben Blair and Leigh Halfpenny – as they head to Parc y Scarletts and it’s the full strength home side who look the better placed to take the final spot.
But as it stands, current Magners champions then Ospreys are favourites to take the final spot as they take on table whipping boys Aironi, and a bonus point victory for them should be enough to secure them a final spot…but only if all goes to plan. And with so much on the line tonight that’s a big if.
Based on form and injuries, our predictions for the playoff line-up is Munster v Ospreys and Leinster v Ulster. What do you think?
By Sam Francis