Between the BKT United Rugby Championship and the Heineken Champions Cup, this weekend's action marks the last of a 10-week block of games.

For some, the upcoming Six Nations break has the potential to be a momentum-killer, but for others it offers up a chance at pressing the reset button, or the opportunity to make some running repairs to the season.

One of those sides who will be glad to see the back of this block of games will be Ulster. Last week's Champions Cup win against Sale broke a three-game losing streak and was just their third win out of their last nine, but if they can finish this draining mid-season period with a win against the defending champions Stormers on Friday, they'll have got through their sticky patch in reasonable nick.

Their meeting with the Stormers in Belfast on Friday night is the pick of the games in Round 13, with the South Africans having edged Ulster twice in Cape Town last season.

An Ulster win would be welcomed down in Leinster too, with Leo Cullen's side already 11 points clear of the Stormers at the top of the table, and hoping to extend that advantage.

The leaders host Cardiff at the RDS in Saturday evening, looking to make it 17 wins in a row in all competitions.

Resurgent Munster could move up to sixth - or even higher - with a win against Benetton in Treviso on Saturday afternoon, while Connacht are the last of the provinces to play on Saturday, looking to stay in with a shot of the playoffs when they take on the Emirates Lions at the Sportsground.

Ulster v Stormers (Friday 7.35pm) and Leinster v Cardiff (Saturday 5.05pm) are both live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, with Benetton v Munster (Saturday 2.30pm) and Connacht v Lions (Saturday, 7.35pm) live on TG4.

All games are live on URC TV.

Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 will have reaction from this weekend's games.

Follow our live blogs on and the RTÉ News app with match reports and reaction from around the grounds.

It should be a nice evening for rugby in Belfast on Friday, with temperatures of around 6C and light winds, while it looks like the rain will also stay away.

There's a similar forecast for Treviso on Saturday where Munster face Benetton, with temperatures around 8C, on what's likely to be a sunny afternoon with very little wind.

Saturday evening in Dublin will also be mild at 6-8C, but there could be an occasional shower of rain for Leinster v Cardiff.

And we should have decent rugby conditions in Galway later that evening for Connacht v Lions, with similar temperatures, light wind and just a small chance of rain.

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Ulster have been beaten in their two previous meetings with the Stormers, although Dan McFarland's side will feel they could, and probably should, have won both of those games in Cape Town.

Their 23-20 defeat to the Stormers last March was controversial after a potential match-winning try for Callum Reid was disallowed, with referee chief Tappe Henning later admitting it should have stood.

And their semi-final meeting a couple of months later was even more dramatic, Ulster letting a 15-10 lead slip, and Manie Libbok's conversion with the final play of the game sending the South Africans to the final.

Ulster can count on a stellar home record this week though, winning all six of their games against South African opposition at Kingspan Stadium.

The Stormers' title defence has been moving at a steady pace, with John Dobson's side settled in behind Leinster in second place, although they were unusually flat in their last URC outing, losing 24-17 away to Glasgow.

While the champions have won four in a row against the Irish provinces - two of which were against Ulster - all of those victories were at home. Both of their trips to Ireland last season ended in defeat, losing to Munster and Connacht.

Ulster: Mike Lowry; Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; Eric O'Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Jeff Toomaga-Allen; Alan O'Connor (captain), Sam Carter; Harry Sheridan, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

DHL Stormers: Clayton Blommetjies, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Ruhan Nel, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Cornel Smit, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Stefan Ungerer, Ali Vermaak, JJ Kotze, Brok Harris, Ben-Jason Dixon, Marvin Orie (CAPT), Junior Pokomela, Willie Engelbrecht, Evan Roos

Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Kwenzo Blose, Sazi Sandi, Ruben van Heerden, Marcel Theunissen, Herschel Jantjies, Kade Wolhuter, Juan de Jongh

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)

The Italians are on one of their best recent runs, and six wins in a row in all competitions have seen them climb up to sixth in the URC, while also securing a place in the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup.

In the URC specifically, they've won three in a row, and while two of those were against lowly Zebre, their most recent outing in the league saw them claim a famous win against Ulster. They've never picked up consecutive wins against Irish provinces though.

After a poor start in the URC, Munster have worked their way up the table, and a win on Saturday will see them climb up above Benetton to sixth place at the very least. If Glashow were to slip up against Dragins, Graham Rowntree's side will climb up into fifth.

They've won four of their last five in the league, and the only defeat was by a single point to Leinster, while two of those victories have come away from home against Edinburgh and Ulster.

Their record against Benetton is rock solid, with just three defeats in 26 meetings, the last of which came way back in September 2013.

Benetton: Rhyno Smith; Ignacio Mendy, Marco Zanon, Filippo Drago, Mattia Bellini; Jacob Umaga, Dewaldt Duvenage (capt); Nahuel Tetaz, Siua Maile, Tiziano Pasquali; Marco Lazzaroni, Riccardo Favretto; Giovanni Pettinelli, Alessandro Izekor, Henry Stowers

Replacements: Bautista Bernasconi, Thomas Gallo, Filippo Alongi, Nicola Piantella, Carl Wegner, Abraham Steyn, Manfredi Albanese, Marcus Watson

Munster: Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Malakai Fekitoa, Liam Coombes; Joey Carbery, Paddy Patterson; Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell (capt), Roman Salanoa; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O'Sullivan, John Hodnett, Alex Kendellen

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Mark Donnelly, Stephen Archer, Cian Hurley, Ruadhan Quinn, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell

Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)

For the second year in a row, Leinster and Cardiff meet in the final round before the start of the Six Nations, and the Welsh side will be hoping for a similar outcome this year.

A Jarrod Evans penalty with the final kick of the game gave Cardiff a 29-27 win 12 months ago at the Arms Park, but you'd have to go back to 2004 for the last time they won two in a row against Leinster.

That defeat was Leinster's only loss in their last seven games against Welsh opposition, while Cardiff haven't won in Ireland since defeating Connacht in September 2017.

Leo Cullen's side bring a 16 game winning run into this weekend's clash at the RDS, which has seen them open up an 11-point lead at the top of the table.

While Cardiff are well within reach of the playoff places, they've been wildly inconsistent this season.

Dai Young's side have only picked up one win in their last four games in the URC, but they've won three of their last four away from home.

Leinster: Chris Cosgrave; Max O'Reilly, Liam Turner, Ben Brownlee, Dave Kearney; Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath; Michael Milne, John McKee, Michael Ala’alatoa; Ross Molony, Brian Deeny; Rhys Ruddock (capt), Scott Penny, Max Deegan

Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, Marcus Hanan, Thomas Clarkson, James Culhane, Will Connors, Nick McCarthy, Charlie Tector, Aitzol King

Cardiff Rugby: Rhys Priestland; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Jason Harries; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Keiron Assiratti; Lopeti Timani, Seb Davies; Josh Turnbull (capt), James Botham, James Ratti

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Corey Domachowski, Will Davies-King, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ellis Bevan, Aled Summerhill, Matthew Morgan

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)

With all of their Interpros played, and their tour of South Africa behind them, Connacht have one of the lighter fixture lists in the final third of the regular season.

They have very little margain for error though, coming into these final six games five points back from the playoff spots.

In their last URC outing they battled through difficult conditions for a well-deserved 24-12 win against the Sharks, and welcome another South African side to Galway this weekend.

The Lions have fallen down the table after what had been an impressive start to the season, losing three URC games in a row, while they haven't won away from home in this competition since early October.

When these sides met last season it proved to be a thriller, Connacht picking up 1 33-30 victory courtesy of a late Jack Carty penalty.

The Lions have faced Irish provinces on six previous occasions with their only victory so far being 23-21 at home to Munster last March.

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran; Diarmuid Kilgallen, Tom Farrell, Cathal Forde, John Porch; Jack Carty (capt), Caolin Blade; Peter Dooley, Shane Delahunt, Jack Aungier; Darragh Murray, Niall Murray; Josh Murphy, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler

Replacements: Dylan Tierney-Martin, Jordan Duggan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Leva Fifita, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly, Oran McNulty

Emirates Lions: Quan Horn; Stean Pienaar, Henco van Wyk, Marius Louw (capt), Edwill van der Merwe; Jordan Hendrikse, Andre Warner; JP Smith, PJ Botha, Asenathi Ntlabakanye; Willem Alberts, Darrien Landsberg; Sibusiso Sangweni, Emile van Heerden, Emmanuel Tshituka

Replacements: Michael van Vuuren, Morgan Naude, Ruan Smith, Pieter Jansen van Vuren, Jaco Kriel, Morne van den Berg, Manny Rass, Andries Coetzee

Referee: Paul Williams (NZRU)


Watch live coverage of Ulster v Stormers (Friday, 7.35), and Leinster v Cardiff (Saturday, 5.05pm) on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, or follow our live scoring on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the RTÉ News app