Preview: Pro12, Round Five
With each passing round the intensity has cranked up and Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets, Leinster, Edinburgh and Zebre all face tricky away games in Round Five.
Defending champions Connacht entertain an improving Edinburgh side, who have won on two of their last four visits to Galway, while Scarlets will have to put an end to Benetton Treviso's three-game winning streak at home to the Welsh regions.
Newport-Gwent Dragons will be looking for their second win of the season as Glasgow Warriors aim to get back to winning ways after successive losses. Cardiff Blues will host Leinster Rugby on Cardiff Arms Park's artificial surface and the fast pitch should produce an exciting game between the sides who have combined to score 27 tries already this season.
After four rounds of play, only five points separate leaders Ulster and Glasgow Warriors in sixth position. An exciting start to the season has been backed up by 118 tries scored, which is seven more than last season.
Only Ulster and Cardiff Blues have maintained their undefeated starts to the season and both of those teams will put their records on the line against Ospreys and Leinster, who sit in third and fourth place, respectively.
Scarlets and Benetton Treviso collected their first wins of the season last weekend which leaves just Connacht and Zebre as the only clubs without a victory to their name so far.
We look at all the weekend's matches!
Friday, September 30
Newport-Gwent Dragons v Glasgow Warriors
(Rodney Parade, Kick-off: 19.35, 18.35 GMT)
Newport Gwent Dragons have won just one of their last 14 Pro12 matches. The Welshmen's only victory over a Scottish opponent since February 2014 came when Edinburgh visited Rodney Parade in May 2015.
Glasgow Warriors have slipped to successive Pro12 defeats but have not lost three in a row in the same season since the end of the 2010/11 campaign. Warriors' 19-23 reversal in Cardiff in Round Three ended a nine game unbeaten run against Welsh regions in all competitions.
Glasgow have won their last four matches against Dragons since the Welshmen's 24-23 victory at Rodney Parade in February 2014.
Newport-Gwent Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lewis Evans (captain), 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Tom Prydie.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos (co-Captain), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Fraser Brown, 6 Lewis Wynne, 5 Jonny Gray (co-Captain), 4 Rob Harley, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Alex Allan.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 D'arcy Rae, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Ali Price, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Leonardo Sarto.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Aled Evans (WRU)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)
Connacht v Edinburgh
(The Sportsground, Kick-off: 19.35, 18.35 GMT)
Connacht are still searching for their first league point of the new season and have lost both of their encounters at the Sportsground in Galway so far this campaign.
Edinburgh's only victory in their last seven matches was 20-9 at home to Scarlets in Round Two. Edinburgh's only away victory in any tournament since early January was by a single point on a trip to Newport Gwent Dragons in March.
Connacht achieved the season's double over Edinburgh for the first time in 2015, although the Scotsmen have won on two of their last four visits to Galway.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon(captain), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Ultan Dillane, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 James Connolly, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Shane O’Leary, 23 Cian Kelleher.
Edinburgh: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Solomoni Rasolea, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 John Hardie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Jack Cosgrove, 18 Allan Dell, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Sasa Tofilau, 23 Blair Kinghorn.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (WRU), John Carvill (IRFU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)
Saturday, October 1
Munster v Zebre
(Thomond Park, Kick-off: 17.00, 16.00 GMT)
Munster's solitary defeat in their last six Pro12 encounters was 23-24 in Cork to Cardiff Blues in Round Two. The Munstermen have won their last five matches at Thomond Park in all tournaments since Leinster beat them there in the Pro12 in December.
Zebre picked up their second league point of the season during their 21-23 loss to Cardiff Blues in Parma on Saturday. The Italians have not been victorious away from home in the Championship since they visited Treviso on January 3, whilst they have failed to score a single point in each of their last three visits to an Irish province.
Munster have won all eight previous contests with Zebre whilst the Italians three previous visits to Limerick has seen them score just one try and concede 16.
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Billy Holland (captain), 5 Darren O'Shea, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne,
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Peter O'Mahony, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Cian Bohane.
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Charles Reed, 9 William Palazzani, 8 Federico Ruzza, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 Gideon Koegelenberg, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (captain), 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Thomas Boni, 23 Lloyd Greeff.
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (WRU), Dermot Blake (IRFU)
Ulster v Ospreys
(Kingspan Stadium, Kick-off: 18.30, 17.30 GMT)
Ulster have lost just one of their last nine Pro12 matches. This is Ulster's best start to a new campaign since they set the Championship record of winning their opening 11 contests in season 2012/13.
Ospreys had recorded maximum league points after three rounds but were brought back down to earth with a 19-31 loss to Leinster on Friday. Ospreys' only victory in their last five encounters with Irish provinces was 32-11 over Connacht in Galway in Round Two.
Things could not be more even in previous encounters between the two sides with each attaining 13 victories, however of late Ulster's only loss to Ospreys in their last six meetings was 20-31 at Liberty Stadium in December 2014. Ospreys have won just once at Kingspan Stadium since 2010.
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O'Connor, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rory Best, 1 Kyle McCall.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Tommy Bowe.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ben John, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma'a fu Fia, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tyler Ardron, 22 Tom Habberfield, 23 Sam Davies.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (WRU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)
Cardiff Blues v Leinster
(Cardiff Arms Park, Kick-off: 19.35, 18.35 GMT)
Cardiff Blues' perfect start to the new season continued with their 23-21 victory in Parma - their best start since the region was formed in 2003. The Blues reside in second place on the log, their highest position, discounting opening rounds, in any season since 2010/11.
Leinster's only reversal in the first four rounds was 25-33 in Glasgow in Round Two. The Leinstermen have lost just one of their last six encounters with Welsh regions and their only defeat in their last 19 fixtures with Blues in all tournaments since 2007, was 3-11 at Cardiff City Stadium in February 2011.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Dan Fish.
Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Rory O'Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Dan Leavy, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Mike Ross, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jamie Heaslip, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Barry Daly.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Ian Davies (WRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Benetton Treviso v Scarlets
(Stadio Monigo, Kick-off: 20.05, 7.05pm UK & Ireland, 18.05 GMT)
Benetton Treviso beat Newport Gwent Dragons 27-11 at Stadio Monigo on Friday and have not won successive Pro12 matches since February. The Italians have won their last three home games against Welsh regions.
Scarlets also won their first game of the 2016/17 campaign with a 17-8 victory at home to Connacht on Saturday. The Welshmen have slipped to three straight away defeats but have been victorious on their last five visits to Italy.
Scarlets have won their last six encounters with Treviso since the Italians' 41-17 victory at Parc y Scarlets in May 2013.
Benetton Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Luke McLean, 10 Thomas Allan, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Dean Budd, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Marco Fuser , 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Matteo Zanusso, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Filippo Gerosa, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Andrea Buondonno.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Steff Hughes.
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (IRFU), Simone Boaretto (FIR)