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Blues blessed in current position

Only unknown for Cullen is who Leinster will host in semi

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Benetton players Giovanni Pettinelli, left, and Federico Ruzza celebrate a last-minute try during the PRO14 Round 19 clash against at the RDS; Benetton are pushing hard for a play-off spot. Pic: Sportsfile

Benetton players Giovanni Pettinelli, left, and Federico Ruzza celebrate a last-minute try during the PRO14 Round 19 clash against at the RDS; Benetton are pushing hard for a play-off spot. Pic: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Benetton players Giovanni Pettinelli, left, and Federico Ruzza celebrate a last-minute try during the PRO14 Round 19 clash against at the RDS; Benetton are pushing hard for a play-off spot. Pic: Sportsfile

Leinster have the luxury of looking down on everyone else in the PRO14 League.

They know they will skip the quarter-finals as Conference B first seeds, be at home for the semi-final and have to travel to Celtic Park for the final, as long as they can get there, of course.

The only unknown for Leo Cullen is who they will host in the semi-final.

It is not as straight forward for, say, second-placed Ulster, who are an unbreachable 20 points behind Leinster with two rounds left to play, just two ahead of improving Benetton in third and three ahead of the equally impressive Edinburgh in fourth.

It can all change on Friday night when the Ulstermen have to make their way to Edinburgh with the possibility of falling from second to fourth, and out of the play-off berth, all in the space of 80 minutes.

The decision of Munster coach Johann van Graan to use up most of his elite Ireland internationals last weekend could mean a skeleton squad going on the road to Benetton.

This would not be good news for Ulster as the Italians showed in Dublin they mean to make the play-offs.

Treviso coach Kieran Crowley will stick a firm finger into the chests of his men to remind them that true progress only comes with points on the board and a place at the high table at the end of the regular season.

This is where the high-wire balancing act comes into the equation as Munster have to calculate how they can get what they want without compromising what they have to do against Saracens the following week.

In Conference A, Munster have to be so clever about how they play out the last two rounds with Glasgow just three points beyond them in first place.

First, Van Graan does not have the advantage of seeing how Leinster-Glasgow plays out in Dublin on Saturday.

They have to go to Benetton on Friday night and eke out the victory that will put them on top, shifting the pressure back on the Scottish club.

It looks like Leinster will hold back their top side for Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-final the following week, asking a lot of the men that struggled with Benetton to raise their game against Glasgow.

The beauty of Leinster's position is that they can take a chance on looking past what is right in front of them to be spot-on for Toulouse.

The most attractive match will be in Galway where third-placed Connacht have four points to spare over Cardiff.

The absence of European concerns means that the two attack-minded clubs will throw everything into it in what should be the match of the weekend.

THE PRO14 LEAGUE RUN-IN

CONFERENCE A

MUNSTER: v Benetton (a); v Connacht (h)

CONNACHT: v Cardiff Blues (h); v Munster (a)

CONFERENCE B

LEINSTER: v Glasgow (h); v Ulster (a)

ULSTER: v Edinburgh (a): v Leinster (h).