Former Stormers lock Quinn Roux will return to Connacht’s starting line-up for his 100th game this weekend against Munster as the Irish Provinces top a massive weekend of derbies in PRO14 Rugby that will have a significant effect on the conference logs going forward.
And while the Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs both enjoy some time away from the action as they prepare in the sun for their encounters early next year, the championship moves on with some significant clashes in the Celtic Nations.
In Ireland the weekend kicks off with a massive derby as Conference A leaders Leinster face off with fellow Irish province Ulster on Friday night. Defending champions Leinster haven’t been made to raise a sweat just yet in the competition, but the Belfast side that travels to Dublin will be looking to end that unbeaten run this season
Leinster, though, have history on their side as they have not lost any Irish province since 2013 and head into the game on the back of an 11 game unbeaten run.
In Galway on Saturday Johann van Graan’s Munster side have their lead in Conference B under threat as Connacht are just a point behind them and are keen to overtake them to the top of the conference.
Without Arno Botha, who is on suspension, Munster have a tough task and Connacht will be full of passion to celebrate the century milestone for Roux in the game and look for a famous victory.
While the Irish provinces battle it out for the top spots in the conference, over in Scotland the 166th clash between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh will go down as a clash of the heavyweights, with Glasgow’s Ollie Kebble and Pierre Schoeman facing off in the front row for the first time this season.
Edinburgh will come into the derby as favourites, unbeaten in six games and in top form after their win over Munster before the European break. Still the Warriors will be looking to South African born Kyle Steyn to inspire them to a much-needed victory.
Over in Italy Zebre and Benetton will face off on Saturday for the bragging rights in the Italian league with Dewald Duwenhage and former SA under-20 lock Irne Herbst looking for a derby victory to increase Benetton’s chances in the race for PRO14 playoff spots.
In Wales Dean Ryan’s Dragons may have lost their last three games, but will be looking to take the Judgement Day rights against the Scarletts in what is expected to be a closely fought affair. Uzair Cassiem will be looking to continue his impressive form this season with more South African flavour being added with Werner Kruger (Scarletts) and Brok Harris (Dragons) in the game.
In the final Welsh derby the Ospreys are desperate to stop their losing streak, and will go in as massive underdogs having won just one game this season. Given that they have won their last four Welsh derbies in a row, they will have some hope, although they will have to stop the Welsh try-scoring duo of Josh Adams and Owen Lane, both who have scored hat-tricks in Europe in recent weeks.
Leinster v Ulster
Live on Supersport 1 – 9.30pm
Zebre v Benetton
Live on Supersport 1 – 4.55pm
Connacht v Munster
Live on Supersport 1 – 7.10pm
Dragons v Scarletts
Kick off: 7.15pm, no SA tv coverage
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh
Kick off: 7.45pm no SA tv coverage
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues
Live on Supersport 1 9.30pm