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Pro12 cheat sheet: Your guide to the weekend's rugby action

Your guide to this weekend’s rugby action. Teams, injury news and form all in one handy place.

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ulster v Leinster

When? Friday 7.05

Where to watch: (If not Ravenhill) RTE two.

The story so far: Leinster have already secured top ranking in the league and so, know exactly where and when they will play their Pro12 semi-final.

Ulster are hanging onto slimming hopes of joining them. They will need to win tonight and hope for a slip up from Glasgow as they travel to Treviso.

This is the penultimate match of the regular season, so anything less than a four point return would leave Brian McLaughlin going to Thomond Park in search of a result on the final weekend. They couldn’t win there twice, could they?

Team news: Both McLaughlin and Joe Schmidt have gone close to full-strength in a bid to warm the engines before big test in the Heineken Cup next week.

Notable absentees from the starting line-ups include Ulster’s Stephen Ferris, Rory Best, Dan Tuohy and Ian Humphreys. While Leinster have given a rest to Isa Nacewa, Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D’Arcy.

Ulster: Terblanche; Trimble, Cave, Wallace, Gilroy; Jackson, Pienaar: Court, Brady, Fitzpatrick, Muller (capt), Stevenson, Henry, Faloon, Wannenburg.

Replacements: Kyriacou, McAllister, Macklin, McComb, Diack, Porter, Humphreys, D’Arcy

Leinster: R Kearney; D Kearney, O’Driscoll, McFadden, Fitzgerald; Sexton, Reddan: Healy, Strauss, Ross; Cullen (capt), Thorn; McLaughlin, Ryan, O’Brien.

Replacements: Cronin, van Der Merwe, White, Toner, Jennings, Boss, Madigan, Carr.

Connacht v Aironi

When? Saturday 5.00

Where to watch: The Sportsground, not on the box.

The story so far: Connacht will be looking to continue their late climb up the table as the dying franchise, Aironi, visit Galway. Having won twice on the bounce, Eric Elwood will be hell-bent on replicating the feat of the 2002/3 season, the last time the men from the west won three-in-a-row.

Aironi have never won away from home so, with the Ospreys at home to come, this is their last chance before the club is wrapped up.

Team news: Elwood will be without loose-head, Brett Wilkinson, who sustained a calf injury in last weekend’s win over Ulster. His replacement, Denis Buckley is the only change to the winning team. Ray Ofisa also took a knock in that game, but is fit enough to return as open side flanker.

Connacht: Duffy (capt); O’Halloran, Tonetti, Fa’Afili, Vainikolo; Nikora, Murphy: Buckley, Reynecke, Loughney; Swift, McCarthy; Muldoon, Ofisa, Naoupu.

Replacements: Flavin, Maguire, Ah You, Kearney, O’Connor, O’Donohoe, Jarvis, Griffin.

Aironi: Tebaldi; Toniolatti, Sinoti, Pratichetti, Venditti; Orquera, Keats: Sole, Favaro, Cattina; Bortolami (capt), Geldenhuys; Romano, Ongaro, Aguero.

Replacements: D’Apice, De Marchi, Redolfini, Joshua Furno, Williams, Olivier, Pavan, Buso.

Scarlets v Munster

When? Saturday 6.30

Where to watch: TG4

The story so far: Like Ulster, Llanelli are fighting a losing battle for a place in the play-offs and will need favourable results along with wins against Munster and Cardiff to avoid the early summer break.

Munster are still catchable in third, five points better off than the Scarlets and four ahead of Ulster. But they will instead have eyes on overtaking the second placed Ospreys to seal a home semi-final.

Team news: A hernia problem will keep Scarlets’ Grand Slamming centre, Jonathan Davies out for the remaining couple of fixtures. Stephen Jones and Adam Warren will operate in midfield, while George North will pose a massive test for Simon Zebo on the wing.

Tony McGahan has made four changes from the side which beat Glasgow in Cork last weekend. Two of those come in the front row as BJ Botha returns at tight-head while Dave Kilcoyne makes his first start at loose-head.

Conor Murray wins back his place from the outbound Tomas O’Leary. Paul O’Connell’s return means Donncha O’Callaghan must wait for his 201st cap as the retiring Mick O’Driscoll partners the skipper in the second row.

Scarlets: L Williams, North,  Warren, S Jones, Lamont; Priestland, Davies: R Jones, Rees (capt), Manu; Timani, Day;  Shingler, Turnbull, Morgan.

Replacements: Phillips, John, Gardiner, Gilbert, Murphy, Knoyle, J Williams, Iongi.

Munster: Jones; O’Dea, Murphy, Mafi, Zebo; Keatley, Murray: Kilcoyne, Sherry, Botha; O’Driscoll, O’Connell (capt); Ryan, O’Donnell, O’Mahony.

Replacements: Varley, Du Preez, Archer, O’Callaghan, Butler, O’Leary, Deasy, Dineen

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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