Aironi v Leinster
When: Tonight 7.00
Where to watch: Italian TV only, boss – Rai.
The story so far: You know the drill with Leinster.
Top of the league, but the draw in Glasgow was the first time they have failed to win since 17 September when they lost to the Warriors.
Aironi are rock bottom and have only managed to beat Connacht and Treviso since mid September.
No doubt, this top versus bottom clash will greatly inspire the unfancied Italians. They have named Fabio Ongaro and Salvatore Perugini on the bench so the Leinster front row have a full day’s work in store.
Luke Fitzgerald returns to the side after two months out with a nasty neck injury allowing a welcome rest for Isa Nacewa who will fill the number 23 shirt. There are few weak links left in this squad, but the centre partnership remains youthful with Brendan Macken partnering Eoin O’Malley.
Aironi: G Toniolatti; R Pavan, R Quartaroli, G Pizarro, S Sinoti; N Olivier, T Tebaldi; J Sole, S Favaro, N Cattina; 5 Del Fava, G Biagi; L Romano, R Santamaria (capt), M Aguero.
Replacements: F Ongaro, A De Marchi, S Perugini, L Redolfini, F Ferrarini, T Keats, L Orquera, G Pavan.
Leinster: L Fitzgerald, A Conway, E O’Malley, B Macken, F Carr; I Madigan, I Boss: H Van Der Merwe, R Strauss, N White; D Browne, D Toner; K McLaughlin, S Jennings (capt.) R Ruddock.
Replacements: A Dundon, J McGrath, J Hagan, L Auva’a, D Ryan, J Cooney, N Reid, I Nacewa.
Ulster v Edinburgh
When: Tonight 7.05
Where to watch: BBC 2 NI
The story so far: Brian McLaughlin’s side recorded an impressive 42-10 win in Edinburgh when these sides last met just under two months ago.
Since the coach was told he would be standing down at the end of the season, their form has tapered off somewhat.
Defeat in Cardiff was followed by a one point win over the Ospreys, but the northern province get another chance to inspire their home faithful tonight.
Team news: Chris Henry has been whisked off to paris for a (presumably) romantic weekend with Declan Kidney so the back row has been reshuffled. Pedrie Wannenburg will line out on the blindside and Robbie Diack will anchor the scrum.
The back-line has been tinkered with too due to Nevin Spence’s hand injury. Ian Whitten comes back into the centre, making way for the recall of Adam D’Arcy to fullback.
Edinburgh boss, Michael Bradley has named a Visser on either wing. Tim on the left , and his younger brother Sep on the tight. Ulises Gamboa will win his first cap for the Scottish outfit, but Chris Paterson must be content with a place on the bench.
Ulster: A D’Arcy; C Gilroy, I Whitten, P Wallace (capt.) S Terblanche; R Pienaar, P Marshall: P McAllister, A Kyriacou, J Afoa, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, P Wannenburg, W Faloon, R Diack.
Replacements: N Brady, C Black, A Macklin, N McComb, M McComish, I Humphreys, L Marshall, C Cochrane.
Edinburgh: T Brown; S Visser ,M Scott, J Houston, T Visser; P Godman, C Leck; K Traynor, A Kelly, U Gamboa, G Gilchrist S Cox, S McInally, R Grant (capt) N Talei.
Replacements: A Walker, R Hislop, J Gilding, R McAlpine, H Watson, A Black, H Leonard, C Paterson.
Scarlets v Connacht
When: Tonight 7.30
Where to watch: Not on the box.
The story so far: Connacht stopped the rotten run of 11 Pro 12 games without a win without the impressive dismissal of Edinburgh last week, a result which lifted them above the Scottish side in the table.
That leaves them unbeaten in two games and Eric Elwood will be keen on building a run of form during this international period. However, this weekend is only a full international weekend for Irish Pro12 sides, so Scarlets can call on the services of Stephen Jones at fly-half.
Tean news: Ben Morgan is also back in the fold, but has not recovered sufficiently from his England duty to do battle with Connacht.
Elwood has had to call on the services of academy star, Dave Heffernan, and will also give a first cap to new signing from Munster, Peter Borlase.
With Brett Wilkinson and Mike McCarthy involved in the Irish set up Ronan Loughney is moved to tight-head. Miah Nikora will play at number 10 in place of the injured Niall O’Connor.
Llanelli: D Newton, L Williams, G Maule (capt), A Warren, A Fenby, S Jones, L Davies, R Jones, E Phillips , D Manu, L Reed, A Shingler, J Turnbull, J Edwards, K Murphy.
Replacements: K Myhill, P John, P Edwards, D Day, M Gilbert, G Davies, N Reynolds, V Longi.
Connacht: G Duffy (capt) F Vainikolo, E Griffin, D McSharry, T O’Halloran, M Nikora, F Murphy. R Loughney, A Flavin, P Borlase, M Swift, M Kearney, D Heffernan, R Ofisa, G Naoupu.
Replacements: E Reynecke, D Buckley. S Maguire, J Muldoon, E Grace, D Moore, M Jarvis, K Tonetti.
Dragons v Munster
When: Saturday 6.30
Where to watch: TG4
The story so far: The reigning champions sit in third position, a point behind the Ospreys with a game in hand.
The Dragons are battling it out near the bottom, but like all clubs in that position, they are having to make the most of their home fixtures due to an awful away record. Having said that, The Newport-Gwent outfit have won both of their last two games against Edinburgh and Aironi.
Tean news: Tony McGahan has handed new signing Save Tokula his first cap, a decision made easier by the injury to Danny Barnes.
Damian Varley and Denis Hurley are fit and available, but as they spent most of the week in Carton house with the Ireland squad, Varley is omitted from the squad and Hurley takes a seat on the bench.
The Dragons will welcome back international lock, Luke Charteris, who has not played since the World Cup.
Dragons: W Harries, T Chavhanga, A Tuilagi, A Smith (capt) A Brew; L Robling, W Evans: N Williams, S Jones, N Buck; L Charteris, R Sidoli; J Groves, L Evans, T Brown.
Replacements: S Parry, P Price, D way, H Ellis, D Waters, j Evans, J Dixon, S Jones.
Munster: F Jones; L O’Dea, S Tokula, L Mafi, J Murphy; I Keatley, T O’Leary; M Horan, D Fogarty, S Archer; D Foley, M O’Driscoll (capt) D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, J Coughlan.
Replacements: M Sherry, W du Preez, BJ Botha, B Holland, P Butler, D Williams, S Deasy, D Hurley.