Munster’s 40-29 victory against high-flying Glasgow Warriors on Friday night very much signaled their intent to defend their title in an entertaining and high-pressure game that saw them get the best out of their side.
The Irish side moved into fourth place on the Vodacom URC log, as Leinster stayed top - only just - with a late winner against Connacht.
But while it all sets Leinster - with their new Rugby World Cup winning coach Jacques Nienaber as Leo Cullen’s assistant - up for their big opener in the Investec Champions’ Cup against defending champions La Rochelle, there will be a lot of nerves going into the big match this coming weekend as the Dublin side still have a few chinks in their armour.
Leinster have a three point lead over Glasgow at the top of the log, with the red-hot Vodacom Bulls starying third place after they doubled down to show that a host of Springboks means little if you’re not accurate and enjoyed a 44-10 win over the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Pretoria.
This perfectly set up a mouth-watering Champions Cup clash with Premiership champions Saracens at altitude at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Hollywoodbets Sharks will host Section Paloise (Pau) from France at home in Durban in their EPCR Challenge Cup opener.
Outside the Vodacom URC top four though, it was Edinburgh and Benetton, two of the sides who have surprised many this season with their impressive style of play, that both recorded wins to keep themselves in the hunt.
Benetton in particular are having a stellar season and added the Ospreys scalp to their list of accomplishments this season, leaving them sixth, level with the Scottish capital side but just below them on points' difference.
Sean Everitt’s tenure at Edinburgh is going well, and he added another victory to his side’s impressive list this season, heading to Belfast to grab a massive away victory against Ulster as Ben Healy kicked 12 points and Pierre Schoeman scored to cap an enjoyable weekend for the Scottish side.
Edinburgh will want to repeat the feat when they head to France for a tricky Challenge Cup opener against Clermont Auvergne on Friday, while Ulster have a tough trip to Bath, where Johann van Graan and Finn Russell await them.
The Emirates Lions' 49-24 win over Dragons, despite being down to 14 men, moved them into ninth spot on the Vodacom URC log, just behind Connacht, and the top eight is a very big possibility for the men from Joburg.
They travel to Perpignan in the EPCR Challenge Cup, where they will face a former team-mate in Marvin Orie, who now plays at the French club.
Other massive matches in the Champions Cup this weekend include Vodacom URC finalists, the DHL Stormers, heading to Leicester Tigers, where Handre Pollard and Jasper Wiese await, while Friday night sees Glasgow Warriors face Northampton Saints, the side that ended Saracens’ five game winning streak this past weekend.
On the same night Connacht face Bordeaux away from home but possibly the most daunting fixture for a Vodacom URC side is Cardiff’s trip to Toulouse, especially after they lost to Scarlets in a Welsh derby this weekend.
In EPCR Challenge Cup action, Zebre host the Toyota Cheetahs, who are one of two invited clubs in that tournament, Scarlets have a tough trip to Castres Olympique, Dragons host Oyannax and Vodacom URC clubs Benetton and Ospreys face each other.
Vodacom URC Round 7 results
Munster 40 Glasgow Warriors 29
Vodacom Bulls 44 Hollywoodbets Sharks 10
Cardiff 23 Scarlets 29
Emirates Lions 49 Dragons 24
Ulster 24 Edinburgh 27
DHL Stormers 31 Zebre Parma 7
Connacht 22 Leinster 24
Benetton 18 Ospreys 13