Donal Lenihan expects Munster to seal their place in the Guinness Pro14 final as they welcome Connacht to Thomond Park, while a Leinster win in Belfast will effectively put paid to Ulster's hopes of reaching the decider.
Connacht travel to Thomond Park tonight (live match commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra) nine points adrift of the hosts in Conference B with only two rounds remaining, with only a win enough to keep alive their hopes of making a first final since 2016.
The sides met in January, where Munster edged out their hosts at the Sportsground in a thrilling finish, and speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Lenihan expects another absorbing contest.
"That was a cracking game," he said. "Munster were well in control, 16-3 ahead in the 77th minute, but Connacht not only got a late try, but Munster had two men sent to the sin bin. They were hanging on at the end."
However, he expects Johan van Graan’s men, buoyed by tying down a number of Academy players including Ben Healy to longer-term deals, will have too much for their inter-pro rivals.
"Munster as we know, have been starved of silverware since 2011. If they win tonight, they are into the final and I think that is incentive enough.
"There will be a lot of interest in the half-back pairing. Ben Healy, having signed an extension to his contract, and Craig Casey, capped against Italy last week.
"I take Munster to shade it."
In Conference A, Leinster lead Ulster by six points ahead of their clash at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday evening.
Both sides have a dozen wins from 13 outings, but Leinster’s lead comes on the back of their number of bonus points.
An away win will all but secure a place in the decider, which is what Lenihan expects will materialise.
"Ulster have to win this one if they want to make the final as Leinster have a six-point lead at the moment.
"In the tight games against Leinster, Ulster often seem to let themselves down. Leinster have so many fellas away on Ireland duty
"If Ulster were ever to win this game, this is the time, but Leinster shade it up front and I think they will win narrowly."
Follow Munster v Connacht (7.35pm, Friday) and Ulster v Leinster (7.35pm, Saturday) via our live blogs on RTE.ie and the RTÉ News app or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and RTÉ Radio 1.
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