Following a mammoth season, the 2019-20 Pro14 campaign has reached the playoff stage with the semi-finals taking place this weekend.
Only four teams remain in the hunt to win the championship this year, with Irish giants Leinster and Munster set to meet in the first semi-final at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night before Edinburgh tackle Ulster the following day at Murrayfield
Leinster Bidding for a Hat-Trick of Titles
Leinster have been the dominant force in the Pro14 of late, winning the title in each of the last two seasons, while they had a perfect record of 15 wins from 15 games during the regular campaign, eventually finishing 25 points clear at the top of Conference A.
No team has ever won the title in three consecutive years, but Leinster appear to be the side to beat and they should have too much for their Irish rivals Munster, who finished second in Conference B and are bidding to make the Pro14 final for the first time since losing to Scarlets in the 2017 showpiece.
Munster will certainly be up against it in Dublin on Friday night, as they have lost seven of their last eight meetings with Leinster, including both clashes this season, while Leo Cullen’s side also won 24-9 when the two teams met in the playoff semi-finals last year.
Edinburgh Looking to Defy Recent History
Many people would consider Edinburgh favourites for Saturday’s second semi-final against Ulster after they topped Conference B, while their opponents limped into second position in Conference A after losing six of their 15 games.
However, Ulster have something of a hoodoo over Edinburgh, as they have won each of the last three meetings between the two sides, two of which came at Murrayfield.
The Scots have also lost to Ulster on the big stage twice before, going down 27-21 in the 2003 Celtic Cup Final before losing to the Irish province in the semi-finals of the 2012 Heineken Cup.
It will also be interesting to see how Richard Cockerill’s side react to Friday’s defeat to Glasgow Warriors which ended their six-match winning run in the Pro14.
Ulster Lacking Form
However, Ulster’s form is a lot worse, as they have lost both their matches since the resumption of the season, following up a 26-20 loss to Connacht with a 28-10 reverse against Leinster.
The winner of both ties will progress through to the Pro14 Grand Final which will take place at a yet to be determined venue on September 12.
*All odds correct at time of writing