The four South African teams set to play overseas opposition next weekend at the start of an extended home run of matches that will run through until May aren’t impacted at this point on what happens at the top of the log, but that could change for some of them if they continue to climb the standings as they are now.
Leinster are currently four points ahead of Ulster and will travel to Stade di Magio in Treviso to play Benetton - who the Cell C Sharks comfortably beat last weekend - knowing a win will be enough to keep them top at the top for another week.
But Ulster can put some pressure on Leinster when they host Cardiff at Kingspan Stadium 24 hours earlier.
Third-placed Glasgow Warriors travel to Llanelli on Saturday to face the Scarlets knowing a win on the road will keep them firmly in the mix.
Edinburgh, who in the space of a few short weeks have gone from second to fifth, will look to halt the slide when they face Connacht - who beat the DHL Stormers last weekend - at the DAM Health Stadium.
Ulster v Cardiff (Belfast, Friday 21h35)
Ulster will be looking for a sixth successive victory since an 18-13 Vodacom URC reverse to Munster, and they also boast a 100 percent home record for the season.
Cardiff have form behind them though, having lost just one of their last four games in the competition. One of those wins was a shock triumph over Leinster, which they achieved with the last kick of the game.
Ulster, who have Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen playing off the bench in this one, have not lost to Cardiff in Belfast for four years.
Edinburgh v Connacht (Edinburgh, Friday 21h35)
Three successive defeats have seen Edinburgh slip from second to fifth and their need to halt that slide is now becoming desperate. Connacht will arrive in the Scottish capital in a bouyant mood after two good wins, one away against Scarlets two weeks ago and the more recent being the rather lucky scrape against the DHL Stormers in Galway last weekend.
Connacht coach Andy Friend has been rightly encouraged by the way his team won both their last two games, with the side having to dig deep in close encounters.
The Irish are boosted by the return of their star flyhalf and captain, Jack Carty, from Six Nations duty (there is an international break this weekend), while Edinburgh have former Emirates Lions flyhalf Jaco van der Walt on the bench.
Both games between Edinburgh and Connacht last season were won by the away side, but Connacht have claimed four victories from their last six visits to Edinburgh.
Benetton v Leinster (Treviso, Saturday 14h55)
Log leaders Leinster will be looking to maintain their stranglehold on Benetton, who have only managed one win over the Irish teams in 13 visits to the Stade di Monigo.
Benetton are striving to avoid a third Vodacom URC defeat on the bounce after going down to Glasgow and the Cell C Sharks. Leinster did drop a point last week when they failed to score four tries against the Emirates Lions, but go into the game with great momentum.
Munster v Dragons (Limerick, Saturday 19h15)
A win for Munster will keep them in touch with the top three of Leinster, Ulster and Glasgow and they will be encouraged by the knowledge that they haven’t lost at home in the last eight games.
Johann van Graan's side lost their most recent fixture against a Welsh team though, that being the 18-10 defeat last year that ended a run of 15 successive wins.
Dragons have not tasted victory since winning at Connacht in October and their only previous triumph at Thormond Park was 18 years ago.
Scarlets v Glasgow (Llanelli, Saturday 19h15)
The Scarlets will be watched closely by the Cell C Sharks, who host them in Durban next Friday. The Welsh side will have to change their recent form if they are to worry the Durbanites by making an impression on third-placed Glasgow, and they’ve only beaten Scottish opposition once in the last seven attempts.
By contrast Glasgow are on a roll, having won their last five Vodacom URC games, their best run in the competition since May 2019. They have also triumphed on their last two trips to Llanelli, winning in November 2016 and April 2018.
Ospreys v Zebre Parma (Swansea, Sunday 16h00)
The Italian team foots the log and haven’t won a game ahead of their trip to South Africa next week, where they start against the DHL Stormers in Stellenbosch before travelling up the coast to Durban to face the Cell C Sharks.
Zebre Parma are also up against a team chasing a fourth consecutive win. Ospreys have also only lost once to Zebre in four years.