The second round of interprovincial derbies takes place this weekend as the Guinness Pro14's irregular regular reason comes to an end. 

The coronavirus pandemic necessitated a reduced schedule and three of the four semi-finalists have already been confirmed ahead of the Round 15 fixtures. 

Holders Leinster had done all the heavy lifting earlier in the season and have long been guaranteed a home semi-final thanks to a flawless 14 wins from 14 games, which sees them top Conference A, a massive 21 points ahead of Ulster. 

They will face the second-placed team in Conference B, which is currently occupied by Munster, narrowly beaten 27-25 last weekend by Leo Cullen's side as rugby made its return. 

This game is a dead rubber, but don't let Dan McFarland hear you say that. 

The annoyance of the Ulster boss at his team's attitude was made clear after last weekend's defeat to Connacht; he felt the side had lost the game "on the sofa" the previous night when Glasgow's loss to Edinburgh secured their passage. 

"Teams that end up winning championships put in better performances in games that don't mean anything," he added.

It will be interesting to see how half-backs John Cooney and Ian Madigan combine, the not-so-young pretenders can justifiably harbour Ireland ambitions, while the continued selection of Jacob Stockdale at full-back hints at the possibility of the erstwhile winger putting his name in the frame for international selection at 15. 

Rob Kearney's time with Leinster is up at the end of the season

Previous incumbent Rob Kearney returns to the Leinster line-up with Cullen, as expected, making a number of changes. 

The game comes too soon for the return of Dan Leavy and Tadhg Furlong but Rhys Ruddock starts on the bench. 

"Rhys got through a bit more training towards the end of the week, so he's back on the bench after missing out last week, he had a flare up," said Cullen.

"Similar to Tadhg, it's a little bit too soon for him. Dan Leavy is another one who has been out for a much longer period.

"We are just taking a slightly longer term view with some of those guys. There is a little bit of risk/reward with some of those calls."

The game got the green light to go ahead despite a number of Ulster Academy players returning positive tests for coronavirus. Similar to Munster two weeks ago, one senior player was identified as a close contact and training was suspended before resuming on Thursday. 


Live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app. 


Live commentary on an extended Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, with Michael Corcoran and James Downey. 


The game is live on Eirsport, with deferred coverage on TG4 at 9.35pm. 

Johann van Graan's team, cruelly denied the services of marquee signing RG Snyman for a sizeable portion of the next 12 months, can secure their play-off place by taking two match points from Sunday's clash with Connacht. 

It may not even come to that if Dragons, at home, can deny third-place Scarlets a five-point return from their game on Saturday (5.15pm). 

A win, without a bonus point for Scarlets, would leave them level on points with Munster, thus meaning the 2011 champions would need just a solitary point to progress. 

However, a defeat without any return for Munster combined with a Scarlets win would be enough for the Welsh outfit to sneak in, the first criteria to split teams level on points at the end of the league season is 'most wins and both teams have nine to their credit so far.

The odds are stacked in Munster's favour but should there be a shock it will hand a headache to organisers with the UK not on the Irish government's green list. 

Munster secured a losing bonus point last week against Leinster

Van Graan said: "We have training this afternoon and hopefully that goes well and all players selected come through that.

"Connacht really played well last Sunday against Ulster and it's always a big battle facing them, we expect a very good game on Sunday afternoon."

Connacht, buoyed by their impressive victory last weekend, will be happy if they can produce something similar despite being out of contention. 

Coach Andy Friend said: "Interpros against our neighbours Munster are always keenly contested and Sunday will be no different.

"They have a semi-final to clinch but we'll be looking to end our campaign on a high.

"We’ve also got two players making their Connacht debuts in Sammy Arnold and Abraham Papali'i so it’ll be a special occasion for them."


Live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app.


Live commentary on an extended Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, with Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan. 


The game is live on Eirsport, with deferred coverage on TG4 at 5.30pm.