It is the midway point of the Pro12 season and the fixtures for Round 12 are split over the New Year with a number of mouth-watering derbies either side of the year-end festivities.
The competition reached a record-breaking point after the conclusion of Round 11 - Luciano Orquera's perfect nine from nine penalty goals in Aironi's 27-13 win over Treviso set a new record for an individual; Murrayfield saw a record Pro12 home crowd for Edinburgh, whilst in the same game Glasgow Warriors became the first side to record successive draws in the history of the tournament.
This week's action opens on Friday with Newport Gwent Dragons welcoming Scarlets to Rodney Parade, whilst over in Belfast, Munster are the visitors at Ravenhill. Both home sides will be looking for a victory to create a positive end to the year.
The only game on New Year's Eve is in Italy where Aironi, having secured their first win over local rivals Benetton Treviso last time out, will be looking for a first ever season's double over their visitors.
The Irish derbies continue on New Year's Day when table-topping Leinster, already 6 points clear of second placed Ospreys, travel west to Connacht in the hope of stretching their lead at the top of the table.
The 1872 challenge continues in Glasgow with honours even after the first round of games between the two Scottish sides, the Warrirors will be hoping home advantage can secure their victory and maintain their spot in the play-off zone.
The round wraps up in Swansea where Cardiff Blues, who sit just outside the top four but have a game in hand over their opponents, face an Ospreys side who know any slip up could see them drop down the table, with Munster just one point behind them.
We look at all of the Round 12 matches
Friday, December 30
Dragons v Scarlets
(Rodney Parade, 19.05; 19.05 GMT)
Newport Gwent Dragons are winless in their last five matches in all competitions, whilst the Dragons most recent victory in the Pro12 was 22-9 at home to Ulster on 30 September. The Men from Gwent have won their last three games against fellow Welsh opponents at Rodney Parade.
Scarlets' only defeat in their last six pro12 encounters was 17-24 at Ulster on 2 December. Scarlets only away win in the tournament since last January was 37-29 at Glasgow on 22 April. Scarlets have won their last seven fixtures with Dragons in the competition.
Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Lewis Robling, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau. 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Dan Way, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Lewis Evans, 21 Joe Bedford, 22 Anitelea Tuilagi, 23 Will Harries.
Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Viliame Iongi, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Gareth Maule (capt), 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Stephen Jones , 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Iestyn Thomas, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Richie Pugh, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Daniel Evans.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Huw David (Wales)
TMO: Tony Rowlands (Wales)
Ulster v Munster
(Ravenhill, 19.05; 19.05 GMT)
Ulster's three game winning run in all competitions ended in Dublin on Boxing Day. The Ulstermen's only defeat at Ravenhill in any tournament in 2011 was 12-23 to Treviso on 7 October.
Munster reeled off a third successive victory at home to Connacht on Monday, but have slipped to three straight losses on the road in the Pro12. The Munstermen have lost only one of their last eight Interprovincial clashes. Munster achieved the season's double over Ulster last campaign.
Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Stefan Terblanche, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Chris Henry, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 John Afoa, 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Chris Farrell, 23 Peter Nelson.
Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Luke O'Dea, 13 Tom Gleeson, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Mick O'Driscoll (capt), 4 Ian Nagle, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 John Ryan, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Scott Deasy, 23 Will Chambers.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Tony Redmond (Ireland)
Saturday, December 31
Treviso v Aironi
(Stadio di Monigo, 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Treviso's storming run in September and October has stuttered of late with just one Pro12 victory intheir last five matches. Treviso have not won at Stadio Monigo in the tournament since Dragons were the visitors on 29 October.
Aironi achieved a first ever win over their great local rivals on 23 December at Stadio Zaffanella in Viadana, and are now out to try and record a first season's double over any opponent and successive wins for the first time for the franchise.
The teams: TBC
Sunday, January 1
Connacht v Leinster
(Sportground, 17.00; 17.00 GMT)
Connacht's miserable run continued at Munster on Boxing Day with an eleventh successive defeat in all competitions. Connacht have not won since they beat Newport Gwent Dragons 17-13 at the Sportsground on 23 September.
Conversely Leinster are undefeated in their last dozen encounters in all competitions, since their 19-23 defeat at Glasgow on 17 September. The Leinstermen have lost just one regular season game to an Irish rival in the past two seasons.
Connacht's only win over Leinster in their last six meetings was 27-13 at the Sportsground on 21 April 2010.
The teams: TBC
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Michael Black (Ireland)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh
(Firhill Stadium, 17.35; 17.35 GMT)
Glasgow Warriors have incredibly recorded three draws in their last four matches in all competitions, whilst their seven match unbeaten run in the Pro12 is a new Warriors record for the tournament.
Edinburgh have lost just one of their last four encounters in the Pro12, but their only away win the tournament since December 2010 remains the 22-11 victory in Treviso on 5 November 2011.
The two Scottish sides drew 23-23 at Murrayfield on Boxing Day – their first tie since 2002. Edinburgh have won just one of their last six encounters against Glasgow, and have not been victorious on Glasgow soil since a 25-16 win at Hughenden on 27 December 2003.
The teams: TBC
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Macpherson (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues
(Liberty Stadium, 18.30; 18.30 GMT)
Ospreys have slipped to three straight defeats in all competitions, but are unbeaten in three of their last four games in the Pro12. Ospreys have lost just once at home in the tournament since October 2010: 20-22 to Munster on 23 April 2011.
Cardiff Blues' last six games in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Blues have won four of their last five fixtures in the Pro12.
Cardiff Blues have not won away from home against a fellow Welshregion since a visit to Dragons on 23 April 2010.
The Blues have recorded just one victory over Ospreys in their last four encounters, whilst their only previous win on Ospreys soil was 28-9 on their first visit to Liberty Stadium on 22 December 2005.
The teams: TBC
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Tim Hayes (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)
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