The derbies certainly delivered in Round 9 as five of the six went down to the final play, while the other was Leinster’s 14-try thriller against Ulster. Bragging rights will be on the line once again this week over the course of the three days, from two Boxing Day derbies in Wales and culminating in a match-up of the Conference leaders at Thomond Park on Saturday. In between you also have Ulster and Connacht looking to get back to winning ways, Benetton hoping to complete the double over Zebre and Glasgow Warriors with the chance to clinch the 1872 Cup away to Edinburgh.
THU – Cardiff Blues v Dragons
Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff | KO 15:00 | Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, SuperSport 1, DAZN, S4C, pro14.tv
It has been a while since a clash between Cardiff Blues and the Dragons had this much riding on it, but with the latter flying high under Dean Ryan, and the former right in the race for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series, Thursday’s clash at the Cardiff Arms Park has the potential to be a classic. The Dragons come into the game off the back of a dramatic win over the Scarlets, Sam Davies slotting the winning drop goal with the clock well into the red. The Blues’ success at the Ospreys was a little more comfortable, but not much, as they ended their Liberty Stadium hoodoo with a 19-16 success.
THU – Scarlets v Ospreys
Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli | KO 17:15 | Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, SuperSport 1, DAZN, pro14.tv
The Scarlets were downed at the death at Rodney Parade and now find themselves in desperate need of a reaction as they return home to take on the Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets. Brad Mooar’s men find themselves just outside the top three in Conference B, two points behind Edinburgh, but they could be as high as second by the end of Round 9. They face an Ospreys team who have not won since mid-October but came close last time out against the Blues. They had Justin Tipuric back for that game and will be hoping he can make the difference against the Scarlets.
FRI – Ulster v Connacht
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast | KO 19:35 | Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, SuperSport 1, DAZN, pro14.tv.
Ulster and Connacht remain second in their respective conferences after the weekend’s action, but both have less margin for error after Inter-Pro losses. If you had offered Ulster 42 points away in Dublin prior to the game, they probably would have expected to come away with five points. In the end they had to settle for a single bonus point, but they will hope to put that right against Connacht. Andy Friend oversaw Connacht’s first win in Belfast in more than half a century last season and needs a repeat in a very tight Conference B.
SAT – Benetton v Zebre
Stadio Monigo, Treviso | KO 13:00 (UK) 14:00 (ITA) | Live on eir Sport 1, Free Sports, DAZN, pro14.tv
Benetton have won eight of their last nine meetings with Zebre, and will fancy their chances of extending that record after a 13-8 win in Parma last weekend. Zebre had their chances in that game but could not turn possession into points. Benetton, meanwhile, are aiming for a third straight win in all competitions, a feat they have not achieved as yet this season. In their last home game in the Guinness PRO14, they let a big lead slip against Cardiff Blues so they need to avoid a repeat.
SAT – Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors
BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh | KO 15:00 | Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, DAZN, pro14.tv
Dave Rennie is yet to lay his hands on the 1872 Cup, with Edinburgh having claimed the trophy in each of the past two seasons. That could all change on Saturday at BT Murrayfield as Glasgow Warriors look to secure a second win in as many matches against their rivals. Their 20-16 win at Scotstoun went down to the wire, with tries from Ali Price and George Turner in the final quarter of an hour making the difference. You have to go back to 2016 for Glasgow’s last win in the Scottish capital however, with Edinburgh still unbeaten on home soil this season.
SAT – Munster v Leinster
Thomond Park, Limerick | KO 18:00 | Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, SuperSport 1, DAZN, pro14.tv
Conference A leaders Leinster travel to Conference B leaders Munster in perhaps the biggest test of their unbeaten record yet. A relatively untested Munster team came away from Galway with a win last weekend and they will be desperate to add Leinster’s scalp to their collection at Thomond Park. Munster’s recent record at Thomond Park is exceptional, unbeaten in their last 21 there, although Leinster were the last team to conquer the Limerick ground. Leinster have also won five of the last six meetings between the two teams.