The focus turns once again to the Pro12 this weekend, with Ulster leading the table courtesy of their unbeaten run so far this season. They travel to Rodney Parade on Friday night to face a Newport Gwent Dragons team who are uncomfortably sat at the wrong end of the table, although at this stage in the season there are only 5 points, or a try bonus point win, between the Men from Gwent and 5th placed Munster.
Also on Friday second placed Scarlets travel to Edinburgh and must be hoping to recapture the form that saw them as early leaders of the competition, winning three from three in the opening rounds. However their record in Edinburgh is not encouraging for the team from Llanelli.
The final game on Friday sees Munster hosting Italian newcomers, Zebre, at Thomond Park, a ground where the home team have won all their games so far this season.
There are three games on Saturday, starting when the reigning champions, Ospreys, welcome Connacht to the Liberty Stadium, a venue where the visitors have never won. Ospreys are one of three teams on 14 points, just outside the play-off Zone, alongside Munster and Cardiff Blues.
The Blues are also in action on Saturday, facing the European champions, Leinster, in their own home, but the Welsh region can take heart from the fact they have won both away games in the Pro12 so far this season.
The final game of the round takes place at Stadio Monigo in Italy, when third placed Glasgow Warriors, who are the opponents for Benetton Treviso, must be looking to repeat last season’s away success.
We look at all the Round Seven action!
Friday, October 26
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS v ULSTER
(Rodney Parade – 19.05; 18.05 GMT)
Newport Gwent Dragons’ only win in their last seven matches in all competitions was 32-12 at home to Edinburgh in round five of the Pro12.
Dragons have won just one of their last 14 encounters with Irish provinces: 22-9 over Ulster at Rodney Parade on 30 September 2011.
Ulster continue to set the pace at the top of the Pro12 table, and still possess a 100% winning record in all competitions this season.
The Ulstermen have won five of their last six fixtures with Welsh regions and have been victorious on their two visits to Wales so far this campaign.
Each side won its respective home game when the two sides met last season, whilst Ulster’s only victory at Rodney Parade since 2006 came on 6 May 2011.
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tondi Chavhanga, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Jevon Groves, 6 Tom Brown, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Owen A. Evans.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Pat Leach .
Ulster: 15 Tommy Bowe, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (captain), 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Mike McComish, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paddy Jackson, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Jared Payne.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Neil Perkins (both Wales)
TMO: Neil Ballard (Wales)
EDINBURGH v SCARLETS
(Murrayfield – 19.35; 18.35 GMT)
Edinburgh have now lost five successive matches in all competitions, whilst their only win at Murrayfield this season came against Zebre on 14 September.
Scarlets have won just one of their last five encounters in all tournaments: 24-13 over Newport Gwent Dragons at Parc y Scarlets in the Pro12 on 5 October.
The Welshmen have already won in Scotland this season: 18-13 at Glasgow on 7 September.
Each team won its respective home game when the two sides met last season, whilst Scarlets’ only win at Murrayfield in nine visits so far came on 8 January 2011.
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox (captain), 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Richie Rees, 22 John Houston, 23 Tom Brown.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Nick Reynolds, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Morgan Stoddart, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tomas Vallejos, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Owen.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Bob Nairns (both Scotland)
TMO: Iain Ramage
MUNSTER v ZEBRE
(Thomond Park – 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
Munster returned to winning ways after three straight defeats, on Sunday with their 33-0 victory over Edinburgh in the European Cup.
The Munstermen have won all five home games in all competitions this season, and have never been defeated on home soil by an Italian side.
Zebre are still awaiting a debut victory for the new franchise, with the only league point gleaned so far coming in their 19-22 defeat at Glasgow in round five of the Pro12.
The two teams have never met before.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Luke O’Dea, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Paddy Butler. 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Dave O’Callaghan, 5 Donncha Ryan, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O’Donnell, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Johne Murphy, 23 Denis Hurley.
Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 David Odiete, 13 Gonzalo Garcia (captain), 12 Daniel Halangahu, 11 Matteo Pratichetti, 10 Alberto Chiesa, 9 Luca Martinelli, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Emiliano Caffini, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 David Ryan, 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Leonardo Sarto.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, David Connolly (both Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Saturday, October 27
OSPREYS v CONNACHT
(Liberty Stadium – 14.30; 13.30 GMT)
Ospreys, the defending Pro12 champions, have won their last three matches in the competition.
The Welshmen have won four of their last five contests against Irish provinces.
Connacht’s only win in their last four Pro12 fixtures was 34-6 at home to Leinster on 28 September. Connacht have won just one of their last eight matches with Welsh regions: 27-19 at Newport Gwent Dragons on 30 March.
Ospreys have won the last eight encounters between the two teams, whilst Connacht’s most recent victory on Ospreys soil came on 21 November 2004 at the Gnoll in Neath.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Joe Rees, 19 James King, 20 George Stowers, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Tom Isaacs.
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Tiernan O’Halloran, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Mata Fifita, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 George Naoupu, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (captain), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Johnny O’Connor, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Danie Poolman.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: TBC, Simon Rees (both Wales)
BENETTON TREVISO v GLASGOW WARRIORS
(Stadio Monigo – 19.05; 17.05 GMT)
Benetton Treviso have won their last two Pro12 matches against Scarlets and Edinburgh.
Treviso lost both games against Scottish opponents at Stadio Monigo last season.
Glasgow Warriors have won their last four Pro12 contests, and have also won their last four encounters against Italian opponents.
The Warriors have lost just one of their last six visits to Italy in all competitions: 16-19 at Treviso on 16 April 2011.
The two fixtures between the teams last season were both won by the away side on the day.
Benetton Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Christian Loamanu, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Corniel Van Zyl (captain), 4 Francesco Minto, 3 Pedro Di Santo, 2 Franco Sbaraglini, 1 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Valerio Bernabò, 21 Marco Filippucci, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Brendan.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Stuart Hogg, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Finlay Gillies, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Ofa Fainga’anuku, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 James Eddie, 21 Scott Wight, 22 Troy Nathan, 23 Taylor Paris.
Referee: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Alan Falzone, Stefano Traversi (both Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
LEINSTER v CARDIFF BLUES
(RDS, Dublin – 18.30; 17.30 GMT)
Leinster’s only defeat in any competition since the opening weekend of the new season came at Connacht vin round four of the Pro12.
Leinster’s only defeat at the RDS in their last ten regular season Pro12 fixtures was to Ospreys on 23 March.
Cardiff Blues have slipped to back to back defeats in the Pro12 to Ulster and Glasgow, but have won both of the away games they have played in the competition so far this season, at Connacht and the Dragons.
The Blues’ only victory in their last eleven encounters with the Leinstermen in all competitions since 2007 was 11-3 at the Cardiff City Stadium on 19 February 2011.
The Welshmen’s solitary victory against Leinster in Dublin came at Donnybrook on 5 March 2004.
Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 David Kearney, 13 Brian O’Driscoll, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (captain), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Damian Browne, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Fionn Carr.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Dafydd Hewitt, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Tafa’ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Willimas, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Campese Ma’afu, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Tom Williams.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Ollie Hodges (both Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)