PREVIEW: Munster v Edinburgh
PRO14 SEMIFINAL QUALIFIER: Thomond Park will be a formidable battleground for Richard Cockerill's Edinburgh team who come into this qualifier game against Munster after a superb season.
Edinburgh's 15 wins were matched only by Glasgow Warriors, a tally that also set a new club record for the team from Scotland's capital.
Munster will be eager to progress for a meeting with Leinster in the semifinals.
Johann van Graan's team lost in last year's Final to Scarlets and after another season of consistency, the men in red will be aiming to go one step further this time around.
However, Van Graan knows Edinburgh have become a force on the field under Cockerill's watch.
"They’ve got a quality coach, I think he's one of the best coaches in the world," Van Graan said in an interview on scotsman.com.
"They’ve got a lot of belief and they’ve got a very simple plan, so I think they’ll come here with nothing to lose.
"They've come from my perception, I won't say from nowhere, but nobody has seen them coming and a lot of guys still don't see them but they are a red-hot team, playing some fantastic rugby."
Edinburgh beat Munster in March at Murrayfield, but the Irish side will welcome back a number of Irish stars for this weekend's Qualifier.
However, with eight wins on the road this season, Edinburgh do not fear going to Limerick.
"It's our first ever Final Series appearance; It's a big team away from home and they are a big force in European Rugby," Cockerill told edinburghrugby.org.
"It's going to be a big day for us and we have earnt the right to be there and the league table doesn't lie. We have been working really hard; we are going to go there with confidence and give it our best shot.
"The real exciting part is, both teams need to win. There will be no resting players; it will most likely be a sell-out crowd at Thomond Park. It will probably be the first time we have faced a full-strength Munster side for quite a few years.
"We know if we play at our best, we will give ourselves opportunities to beat Munster. The chances are that they should win. They are at home and just dropped out of Europe, so there is a little bit of pressure on them."
The winner of this fixture will travel to the RDS Arena, Dublin, to play Leinster on Saturday, May 19.
Overall Pro14 head to head record:
Played 31, Munster won 24, Edinburgh won 7.
Prediction: Munster have now reached the end of season play-offs in seven of the last nine years but only won the title once in that period (2011). Munster are unbeaten in their last four Pro14 games since their 6-12 reversal to Edinburgh at Murrayfield on March 16. Munster's only defeat at home in any tournament since February 2017 was to Leinster at Thomond Park on St Stephens Day. This is Edinburgh's first appearance in the play-offs since they were reintroduced in 2010. The Scotsmen's only loss in the last nine rounds of the Pro14 was 20-32 at home to Ulster in Round 19, whilst their only defeat in the Championship outside Scotland since September was at the Cheetahs in November. Edinburgh beat Munster 12-6 at Murrayfield in their only encounter this season to end a five-game winning run in the series by the Irishmen. Edinburgh have been victorious at Thomond Park just once since 2006: 14-13 in September 2014. Edinburgh have won on both of their visits to Irish provinces in 2018. Munster will win this one by 10 points.
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Jack O'Donoghue, 6 Peter O'Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 James Cronin.
Replacement: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 James Hart, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Darren Sweetnam.
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Bill Mata, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally (captain), 1 Jordan Lay.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Duncan Weir. 23 James Johnstone.
Date: Saturday, May 5
Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick
Kick-off: 15.15 (14.15 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be partly cloudy with a high of 18°C. There will also be a slight breeze.
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Ian Davies
TMO: Jon Mason
Source: scotsman.com, edinburghrugby.org & @PRO14Official