Benetton Treviso v Ulster, Stadio Monigo, kick-off 14:00 Irish time (Live on BBC NI)
Treviso come into this clash with Ulster after their back-to-back victories over Italian rivals Zebre over the festive period and with that will be bristling with confidence and eager to land a hat-trick of victories, which would push them up to within a point of 10th placed Dragons.
Ulster, by contrast, come into the tie after an extremely poor run of form that stretches right back to 21 November, their last good outing, when they saw off Ospreys in style 25-16 at Kingspan Stadium.
In the Pro12 they’ve shipped defeats to Munster, Ospreys and Leinster, as well as sneaking past Connacht by three points with a very unconvincing performance. In the Champions Cup things have been little better, with a scrappy win over Scarlets followed by a comprehensive defeat to the same team the following weekend.
In short, they’ve been a little all over the shop, struggling for consistency and seeming to lack killer punches in games despite being able to put decent phases together for patches. Inconsistent is the most consistent description for them - so far - this season.
As a result this game becomes all the more important; it’s a chance to stop the tide and put in a very solid away performance built on a strong display from the pack, and finished off by a backline that clicks.
The team selected is definitely good enough to blow Treviso away. Louis Ludik, Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar are all named and make a superb backline. Up front Rory Best, Wihahn Herbst, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack and Roger Wilson provide a spine that I can’t see the Italians living with.
Alessandro Zanni will do his best to disrupt the Ulster platform at openside, Cornelius van Zyl is the enforcer in the pack at lock.
Out wide Andrea Pratichetti, Michele Campagnaro and Angelo Esposito are the danger men. But in truth, only if Ulster deliver an under par performance is this Italian XV capable of taking four points.
If Ulster use their recent black patch as incentive, keep 15 men on the pitch - unlike when they faced Zebre in Parma back in September, and use possession wisely, they should have enough to end their six-match away losing streak, pulling away in the final quarter.
Verdict: Ulster to win by 12.