As the two outstanding fixtures, Aironi v Munster, and Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues, have been played since the last full round of the RaoDirect PRO12, fixtures, all teams have now completed 17 games. However the results did not have any impact on the positions of teams in the table, and both losing sides, Cardiff Blues and Munster, must feel that they lost the opportunity to gain ground over their opposition for the Play-Offs.
There is now a real log jam for the top four places, with just 7 points separating the second placed team, Munster, from 7th placed Cardiff Blues, with just 25 possible points still to play for this season.
The headline game this round must be Leinster v Ospreys at RDS on Friday night. The Irish province have comfortably led the table since round 10 but Ospreys must know that a victory, other results permitting, could see them regain the second home Play-Off spot, whilst defeat could see them drop out of the top four placings altogether.
The other stand out fixture this round is Cardiff Blues v Scarlets. Both are just outside the Play-Off zone on 45 points, victory not only secures the points for the winning team, but denies their opponents the opportunity to ad to their tally, and with just 5 rounds left to play, every point dropped is crucial.
The same four teams have occupied the Play-Off Zone since round 8, although their placings may have changed, will the same four still be there when round 18 wraps up this weekend?
For 12 page full match previews and updated tables CLICK HERE