Tonight Leinster welcome Ulster to the RDS for the first of the season's interprovincial derby and it promises to be an intriguing clash between two in-form sides.

Leinster’s dismantling of Premiership league leaders Northampton last weekend, without the services of Johnny Sexton, was particularly eye-catching.

The culture in Leinster in the last number of seasons is such that they don’t need any one player in particular, they know the game inside out and run impressive attacking lines to put teams under pressure.

There are two or three guys in most positions that can do a good job for them as part of the system, but it helps when their top players are in such scintillating form, such as Garry Ringrose scored a hat-trick of tries at the weekend to continue his upward curve since his World Cup disappointment.

Ulster will need some more individual brilliance if they are to turn Leinster over in the capital, but if anyone is capable of doing it at the moment it’s them.

The problem for them is that selection rotation means the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Jacob Stockdale, Stuart McCloskey and man of the moment John Cooney (below) are not part of the match-day squad.

This game may be beyond them, but in European terms, Dan McFarland's team are right in the hunt for a knock-out place.

Next up for them is a mouth-watering fifth round clash with Clermont in the tightest pool with both teams only separated by one match point. The difference in the flow of the two games was probably the home advantage.

Ulster lived off Harlequins' poor discipline and penalty count to stay on top in the game but they showed their own pace and ability to attack in a length-of-the-pitch move which saw Cooney go over for the first of his two tries in another man of the match display.

To be able to win emphatically on the road in Europe shows what Ulster might be capable of in this tournament but you would suspect that there will be tougher opponents than what Harlequins brought on Friday night.

Tomorrow evening the attention will switch to the Sportsground where Connacht host Munster, with the teams coming into the game on the back of contrasting fortunes last weekend.

In Pool 4, Saracens took a long time to break Johann van Graan's down at home in Allianz Park. The brawn was complemented some deft handling, and what was noticeable was the amount of dummy runners and interplay between backs and forwards.

There is an air of more control about Sarries than the free flowing style of Clermont.

Munster handled the European champions quite well for large parts of the game and had them on the back foot at times, going 6-3 up at the start of the second half. An opportunity to go 9-3 up went amiss soon after and that was the sniff that Saracens needed to go hard for the win.

Munster asked questions throughout and the challenge for them, with fresh guidance of Stephen Larkham and Graham Rowntree, is building a game that will challenge in the next couple of seasons.

Hosts Connacht snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Gloucester and their noted home support will be full of confidence of lowering Munster colours in Galway.

The Sportsground is always a tough place to go, especially in the middle of December with harsh weather conditions normally expected and a growing fanbase.

The next week provides a chance for all Irish provinces to give more players a run out against their closest rivals, though we have come to expect that all four teams keep their powder dry in terms of team selection for the home fixture.