Leinster and Munster will go head to head on Saturday in front of a sold-out Aviva Stadium in one of the most contested rivalries in the Guinness PRO14.
Leinster lead the pack in Conference B while Munster are looking to keep pace with Glasgow Warriors in Conference A.
What’s at stake? Both founded in 1879, the two provinces have been battling for bragging rights ever since.
But defending champions Leinster have made the better start to the season, earning four wins from five matches as they go in search of retaining their crown.
Munster haven’t found the league easy pickings so far, losing twice against Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues this season.
In 2017 Leinster took the spoils in this fixture, winning 23-17 in October and 34-24 in December in the regular season.
Team news (Leinster): Rhys Ruddock will captain the Leinster side while Ross Byrne will wear the number 10 jersey in Jonathan Sexton’s absence.
Rob Kearney will win his 200th cap at number 15, Fergus McFadden is on the right wing with James Lowe on the left.
Robbie Henshaw and Rory O’Loughlin are selected in the centre with Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne in the half backs.
Jack McGrath makes his first appearance of the season at loose head prop
Team news (Munster): Jean Kleyn comes into the second row in the only change to the pack with Darren Sweetnam and Sammy Arnold joining the backline.
Peter O’Mahony captains the side in an unchanged back-row with Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander keeping their places.
Conway starts at full-back with Sweetnam and Keith Earls on either flank. Dan Goggin is joined by Arnold in the centres.
Key battle: Ross Byrne v Joey Carbery
In a battle of the number 10’s Ross Byrne will face off against former teammate Joey Carbery for the chance to claim the spoils at the Aviva Stadium.
The 23-year-old Dubliner claimed the man of the match trophy in the narrow 33-32 win over Cardiff Blues playing a starring role in the victory with two tries, two conversions and two penalties.
Ex-Leinster fly-half Carbery has equally impressed this campaign, scoring 18 points last time out against Ulster in the barnstorming 64-7 victory over Ulster.
Key fact: Leinster’s only loss in their last eight fixtures against fellow Irish provinces was to Connacht in Galway in April.
Did you know? Leinster’s only loss in their last seven encounters with Munster was 17-29 at Thomond Park on St Stephen’s Day 2016.
Leinster: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Rory O’Loughlin, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jack McGrath, James Tracy, Michael Bent; Devin Toner, James
Ryan, Rhys Ruddock (c), Dan Leavy, Seán O’Brien
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Mick Kearney, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney
Munster: Andrew Conway, Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls, Joey Carbery, Alby Mathewson, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne,
Peter O’Mahony (c), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Ciaran Parker, Billy Holland, Chris Cloete, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Rory Scannell
TV: At Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 6pm on Premier Sports and eir Sport
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Dan Jones, Mike English
Citing Commissioner: Eddie Wigglesworth
TMO: Jon Mason
Leinster claimed the spoils in a hotly contested 30-22 victory over rivals Munster thanks to a dominant kicking performance from Ross Byrne.
The Leinster fly-half scored 13 points to hold off a second half Munster fight back to claim a fifth win of the season.
The game started with an error strewn opening 10 minutes, but the tide turned when Leinster’s Dan Leavy broke away and Jamison Gibson-Park’s pass to James Lowe was intercepted by Keith Earls with the try line at his mercy.
Following a video review, referee Ben Whitehouse judged that Earls made early contact with the Leinster wing and he was subsequently handed a yellow card with a penalty try awarded to Leinster.
The decision proved decisive as Leinster capitalised only four minutes later when Lowe touched down in the left corner. Byrne added the extras from a tight angle.
When Munster opted not to kick for goal from a penalty, they were rewarded when a long maul allowed Tadhg Beirne to power over the line to reduce the deficit.
The Thomond Park side continued to provide a constant threat from the maul and CJ Stander made it count when he ran from the left of the scrum to score Munster’s second try of the evening with an outstretched left arm.
Joey Carbery kicked the conversion to score his first points of the night, before the men in blue added to their slim lead from the boot of Byrne eight minutes before the break.
On the stroke of half-time Byrne made it three from three to stretch Leinster’s advantage to 20-12 at half-time.
The reigning champions didn’t rest on their laurels following the restart and a stunning arcing pass from Gibson-Park eight yards from the line was capitalised on by Lowe to acrobatically reach down in the left corner for his second try of the match. Byrne added the extras to go 27-12 up.
Carbery ended a quiet spell for both sides following a Munster penalty awarded for an accidental high tackle and it sparked a comeback for Johann van Graan’s side.
After three successive scrums on the Leinster try line, Munster deservedly scored when New Zealander Alby Mathewson took advantage of slack defending from Rory O’Loughlin to score his first try of the season.
But Leinster were again handed the initiative when Jean Kleyn obstructed a Leinsterman to allow Byrne to kick his fifth successful kick of the match and ensure Leinster secured a ninth win in succession at the home of Irish rugby.