The Greene King IPA Championship clubs earned a well-deserved breather last week but it is now crunch time in the British & Irish Cup – starting with Bedford Blues' trip to Ulster A.
The Blues are in command of Pool 2 thanks to a superb 34-17 win over Bristol Rugby in Round 4, Piers O'Conor, Paul Tupai, Dean Adamson (2) and Myles Dorrian all crossing for the hosts at Goldington Road.
And they have a golden chance of putting one foot in the quarter-finals at an Ulster side who were well beaten 23-7 by Scarlets Premiership Select last time out.
That was Scarlets' first win of the competition, and they take on Bristol – the Greene King IPA Championship leaders are second in the group with ten points – at Llandovery on Sunday.
Another Championship team in prime contention for the knockouts is Yorkshire Carnegie, and their clash with Munster A could well decide the Pool 3 standings.
Carnegie will take confidence from their double-header victories over London Scottish and they will look to set the record straight at Huddersfield – Munster beat Bryan Redpath's troops 14-9 in Ireland.
Doncaster Knights, going so well in the Championship, are still fighting on both fronts and could wrap up Pool 5 should they beat Connacht Eagles on their travels.
Apart from Leinster A, Doncaster are the only team to yet be beaten in the cup and are on course for another deep run in the competition following their appearance in last year's final.
London Welsh also lead Pool 4 after impressively shutting out Nottingham 24-0 at Lady Bay in Round 4, including a try-double for Gus Jones.
And while this week's opponents, Cardiff Blues Premiership Select, only have one win to their name, it came in their last clash – a tough win at Cornish Pirates.
Until that fixture the Pirates had won three British & Irish Cup games in three but are still in with a big shout of winning the pool, two points behind the Exiles due to having fewer bonus points.
This time around they have a home fixture against Nottingham – who are still searching for their first cup win of the season.
There is another all-Championship clash between Rotherham Titans and Ealing Trailfinders – third and fourth respectively in Pool 1.
Though both teams are playing for pride in the competition, Ealing are looking to record their first-ever competitive victory over the Yorkshiremen, having lost in all four of their prior meetings.
Elsewhere Moseley take on the might of a yet-to-be beaten Leinster A, but Kevin Maggs' men are in second in Pool 1 and a win in Ireland would chop down the five-point gap.
Jersey are also still in with a shout of the quarter-finals, though they must play catch-up three points behind Doncaster in Pool 5.
This week they will entertain Newport Dragons Premiership Select, who were beaten by the Knights home and away in the last two rounds.
While with two wins and two losses, London Scottish are not out of the Pool 3 running yet and they host the winless Ospreys Premiership Select on Saturday.
British & Irish Cup round five fixtures
Friday January 15
Ulster 'A' v Bedford Blues, kick-off 7.30pm
Saturday January 16
Connacht Eagles v Doncaster Knights, kick-off 1pm
Rotherham Titans v Ealing Trailfinders, kick-off 2pm
Cardiff Blues Premiership Select v London Welsh, kick-off 2.30pm
Jersey RFC v Newport Gwent Premiership Select, kick-off 2.30pm
London Scottish v Ospreys Premiership Select, kick-off 3pm
Moseley v Leinster A, kick-off 3pm
Sunday January 17
Cornish Pirates v Nottingham Rugby, kick-off 3pm
Scarlets Premiership Select v Bristol Rugby, kick-off 3pm
Yorkshire Carnegie v Munster A , kick-off 3pm
To download statistics from round four, please click here.
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