Surprise frontrunners Benetton Treviso have been buoyed by the news that the final will take place at their home stadium and will hope to continue their winning streak for coach Kieran Crowley, who will be leaving to take over as head coach of Italy in a few months’ time.
The Italians are four points clear at the top of the table after winning their opening three games - two against Zebre - but could find the going a lot tougher when they visit Connacht this weekend.
Connacht will head into the game knowing they still have a chance after their shock win over Munster a fortnight ago, and they have also won the last seven meetings between the two sides.
That game will be a major focus for the chasing sides, of which Munster is one, and with just two matches left, this weekend’s games effectively become knockout matches.
Munster’s forwards coach Graham Rowntree said as much this week when talking up his side’s chances against the Cardiff Blues in a must win game for both sides.
“I said from the outset that we want to win this tournament, we took it very seriously,” Rowntree laid down the law this week.
“I think our selections have reflected that as well, and certainly our performances up until the disappointment against Connacht, and that last third of the game in particular. But we are taking it very seriously.”
The Blues are a point behind Munster after narrow 17-16 and 29-28 wins against the Dragons and Scarlets respectively, effectively making the game a knock-out - and Rowntree agrees.
“Very much so. That’s it, literally - it’s a knock-out game," he said.
“We’ve played against them twice this year, they’re a good team. Dai (Young) has made a change there going in. They’re a physical team, good defensively, good in the breakdown, massive attacking threat as well, a running ‘10’ and running ‘9’ threat.
“We’ll have our hands full, which is exactly what we need. We’re ready for it. We’ve certainly trained with this in mind and our preparation has gone really well.”
The Munster-Blues game is the only match scheduled for Friday night, while Saturday sees Benetton face Connacht and the Dragons host Glasgow Warriors.
The match between Ulster and Scarlets has been cancelled due to four of the Irish province's players testing positive for COVID-19, and as a result, Scarlets have been awarded four log points in line with tournament protocols, as there is no available window for it to be re-scheduled.
Dragons winger Jonah Holmes is experiencing some fine form with four tries thus far in the Rainbow Cup and will hopefully inspire his team-mates.
Away from their Rodney Parade home for this match, the omens are not positive for the Newport-based club with defeats on the four previous occasions they have played at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Glasgow Warriors have recovered well from an opening round loss to Benetton and could finish in first place if results were to go their way this weekend. Yet they have not won three consecutive games in the championship since February 2020.
Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup Round 4 matches:
20h35: Munster vs Cardiff Blues
18h15: Benetton vs Connacht
20h35: Dragons vs Glasgow Warriors