The third round of the United Rugby Championship gets under way this evening. Find out all you need to know here.


TV

Leinster v Zebre and Scarlets v Munster are live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, while Ulster v Benetton and Connacht v Dragons are on TG4.

RADIO

Scarlets v Munster is live on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1.

ONLINE

RTE.ie/sport will have live blogs across the weekend with match reports and reaction from the grounds. All games are live on URC TV.

WEATHER

Mostly cloudy in Belfast and Dublin with temperatures around 16 or 17C; similar temperature expected in Galway tomorrow in partly sunny conditions.

Llanelli will see periods of clouds and sunshine in about 18C on Sunday for Munster's visit.


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Ulster are the first Irish team in action this weekend as they welcome Benetton to the Kingspan with both teams defending 100% records.

Dan McFarland's side, courtesy of bonus-point victories over Glasgow and Zebre sit second on the table, just shy of Munster on points difference.

The Treviso side, meanwhile, have two narrow wins to their name so far, a 22-18 success over the Stormers and a Munster-esque last-gasp dropgoal victory over Edinburgh.

This game will be notable as Rob Herring earns his 200th provincial cap for Ulster, while former Pro14 top try-scorer Rhyno Smith makes his first start at full-back for Benetton.

Ulster have not been beaten by Italian opponents since losing to Zebre in September 2017 and their only previous defeat to tonight's visitors came back in 2011.

Benetton have never won the opening three matches of the season but neither have they won a game outside Italy since March 2020.

Their last clash with an Irish province ended in a 20-12 home win against Connacht and they have never won successive matches against Irish opponents.


Ulster: Will Addison; Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O'Toole; Alan O'Connor, Sam Carter (capt); Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Ross Kane, Mick Kearney, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham.

Benetton: Rhyno Smith; Ratuva Tavuyara, Marco Zanon, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Sperandio; Leonardo Marin, Callum Braley; Federico Zani, Corniel Els, Ivan Nemer; Irné Herbst, Federico Ruzza; Giovanni Pettinelli, Michele Lamaro (capt), Braam Steyn.

Replacements: Tomas Baravalle, Cherif Traoré, Tiziano Pasquali, Marco Lazzaroni, Sebastian Negri, Lorenzo Cannone, Luca Petrozzi, Luca Morisi.

Referee: AJ Jacobs (SARU, 5th league game)


Champions Leinster host Zebre off the back of a most underwhelming 7-6 win away at Dragons last Sunday.

The performance of Leo Cullen's men was all the more surprising following their dynamic outing in round one when they beat the Bulls 31-3.

The Italians have lost both of their games so far, going down at home to the Lions and to Ulster last weekend.

The hosts have a formidable record against Italian opposition and their only defeat in such fixtures came at home to Benetton in April 2018.

Leinster have won their last three home matches since they were beaten 27-3 by Munster in Dublin during the Rainbow Cup and they prevailed 48-31 when these sides met in Parma in March.

Zebre, meanwhile, are without a win since February and their last championship victory outside Italy came last November - both of those results coming against the Dragons.

Leinster have won all 15 of the previous encounters between the teams.


Leinster: Jimmy O'Brien; Adam Byrne, Jamie Osborne, Ciarán Frawley, Jordan Larmour; Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Ed Byrne, Seán Cronin, Michael Ala’alatoa; Ryan Baird, Devin Toner; Dan Leavy, Scott Penny, Rhys Ruddock.

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Peter Dooley, Cian Healy, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Nick McCarthy, Johnny Sexton, Rob Russell

Zebre: Jacopo Trulla; Pierre Bruno, Erich Cronje’, Enrico Lucchin, Mattia Bellini; Antonio Rizzi, Nicolo’ Casilio; Andrea Lovotti, Oliviero Fabiani (capt), Ion Neculai; Cristian Stoian, Andrea Zambonin; Iacopo Bianchi, Luca Andreani, Renato Giammarioli.

Replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Danilo Fischetti, Matteo Nocera, David Sisi, Giovanni Licata, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tommaso Boni, Paolo Pescetto

Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU, 17th league game)


Connacht were the most impressive in last weekend's clean sweep, putting the Bulls away 34-7 in the Sportsground.

After falling to a heavy defeat in Cardiff on the opening day, the bonus-point win was much needed out west.

Following two rounds, Connacht are joint top of the team charts in clean breaks (13) and defenders beaten (44) with Mack Hansen accounting for 15 of those defenders.

The Westerners are bidding to win three home championship games in a row for the first time since October 2019.

The Dragons, meanwhile, are hoping to snap a run of six straight defeats since beating the Scarlets 52-32 in the Rainbow Cup in April.

Connacht have won their last three matches against the Dragons while the Newport outfit's only previous victory at The Sportsground came all the way back in May 2004 - their inaugural visit to the venue.


Connacht: Ben O'Donnell; Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Oisin Dowling, Ultan Dillane; Cian Prendergast, Jarrad Butler (capt), Paul Boyle

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Leva Fifita, Conor Oliver, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Sammy Arnold.

Dragons: Jordan Williams; Jonah Holmes, Jack Dixon, Aneurin Owen, Jordan Olowofela; Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams; Greg Bateman, Elliot Dee, Mesake Doge; Will Rowlands, Joe Maksymiw; Harrison Keddie (capt), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Taylor Davies, Aki Seiuli, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Ollie Griffiths, Gonzalo Bertranou, Josh Lewis, Adam Warren.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (SARU, 4th league game)


Table toppers at the end of round 2, Munster go out for their first road trip looking to make it three from three.

A six-try victory over a hapless Sharks side was followed up by a bizarre win over the Stormers as Munster came from 15-0 down to eventually prevail 34-18, all five tries coming from their pack.

Scarlets, meanwhile, lost their opener to Edinburgh, 26-22, and beat the Lions 36-13 last time out.

They have lost just one of their last six home matches across the Pro14, Rainbow Cup and United Rugby Championship.

The Llanelli-based region suffered a 28-10 defeat when they visited Thomond Park in March while the most recent meeting at Parc y Scarlets ended 30-27 in the Munster men's favour, with Leigh Halfpenny kicking all of the Scarlets' points.

Munster have lost just twice away from home in any competition in 2021 - at Ulster in January and Leinster in the Pro14 final.

Johann van Graan's side have won their last 14 matches against Welsh regions in all competitions.


Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Jonathan Davies (capt), Scott Williams, Steff Evans; Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Samson Lee; Lloyd Ashley, Aaron Shingler; Blade Thomson, Dan Davis, Sione Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Will Griff John, Morgan Jones, Shaun Evans, Kieran Hardy, Dan Jones, Johnny Williams.

Munster: Matt Gallagher; Calvin Nash, Liam Coombes, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Neil Cronin; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Thomas Ahern, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O'Donoghue (capt), Chris Cloete, Jack O'Sullivan.

Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, RG Snyman, Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly.

Referee: Ben Blain (SRU, 13th league game)