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Points difference could be crucial

With just a handful of Magners League fixtures left to play, the four Play-Off Spots are still hanging in the balance.

As things stand ahead of this weekend’s action, the top six sides in the league all appear to have realistic ambitions of reaching the inaugural semi-finals.

Leaders Leinster face second-placed Munster in Limerick on Friday night knowing defeat could see them slip to third in the table, while impressive victories for the Ospreys or Dragons could see either of them jump into a Play-Off spot at the expense of Munster, Edinburgh or Glasgow.

And with the gap between the sides in contention showing no real signs of lengthening, the semi-final spots could be decided on games won and even points difference.

Leinster are currently out in front when it comes to both those statistics, with 10 wins and a points difference of 88 to their name.

But there is precious little to choose between the other leading Play-Off contenders.

Munster and Edinburgh share identical records, thanks to eight wins and a points difference of 37, while Glasgow and the Ospreys have seven wins apiece and a points difference of 25 and 35 respectively.

Such small margins aren’t lost on Edinburgh head coach Rob Moffat, who admits that bonus-points and points for and against could be absolutely crucial in the race for the Play-Offs.

“We have to realise that it’s very tight and it’s not just bonus points that could be crucial, but points difference, as well,” said Moffat, following a 24-20 win over the Scarlets last time out.

“We should have got a bonus point with the amount of possession we had. We were 33-0 up in our last game against the Ospreys and 24-13 ahead against the Sacrlets and both times we’ve let them get back into it. 

“We’ve got to try and get on a run, get on a roll, because that’s what it’s about at this stage. You’ll struggle if you have a dip in form now.”

The Blues, Scarlets, Ulster and Connacht may disagree but it looks as though the Play-Offs will be made up of four from six teams.

Here’s who the top six sides have left to play in the regular season…

Leinster

Munster away
Ospreys home
Glasgow away
Edinburgh home
Connacht away

Munster

Leinster home
Connacht away
Ospreys home
Blues away

Edinburgh

Connacht away
Dragons away
Ulster home
Leinster away

Glasgow

Dragons home
Ulster home
Leinster home
Scarlets away

Ospreys

Scarlets home
Ulster away
Leinster away
Munster away
Dragons home

Dragons

Glasgow away
Edinburgh home
Blues home
Ospreys away