The final Test match of the year takes place at Twickenham on Saturday while the domestic leagues rumble on building up to Christmas.
It’s a return to action for the Top 14 after a rare week off, with Clermont hoping to extend their six-point lead at the top, while there’s little to separate Leinster, Munster and the Ospreys in the PRO12.
Saracens meanwhile face a tricky trip to Bath in the Premiership as they hope to stay in first place before their internationals return.
Let’s take a look at the weekend’s matches.
ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA
Prediction: Summoning one final effort won’t be difficult to ask of the Wallabies but they will come up short. England by 10 points.
Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints
Tigers and Saints fan, and non-fans, always look forward to this East Midlands derby and rightly so given some of the classic we have seen over the years. “This is the best week of the year and the best game of the season” were the words of Leicester’s Tom Youngs this week, giving you an insight. Northampton travel to Welford Road after a surprise defeat at home to Newcastle last Friday, while Leicester were tested but pulled through away to desperate Bristol. Maintaining the seven-point gap between the two sides will be a priority for the Tigers, while Saints have not won at Welford Road since 2007. We fancy Leicester by nine points.
Other Premiership predictions:
Sale Sharks vs Exeter Chiefs: Sale by 6
Bath vs Saracens: Saracens by 5
Gloucester vs Bristol: Gloucester by 10
Worcester Warriors vs Wasps: Wasps by 15
Newcastle Falcons vs Harlequins: Newcastle by 7
Glasgow Warriors v Munster
The tie of the round on Friday night will see 2015 champions Glasgow try and close the gap on current leaders Munster, who hold a seven-point lead over their hosts ahead of this week’s trip to Scotstoun. Nine internationals return from Scotland duty, although crucially not Stuart Hogg, with Mark Bennett and Tommy Seymour providing plenty of threat. Heavy back-to-back losses to the Scarlets and Ospreys leave Glasgow in need of some relief, not something Munster will exactly rush to offer with the threats of Rory Scannell and Darren Sweetnam. The hosts have a slight edge – Glasgow by three.
Other PRO12 predictions:
Ospreys vs Edinburgh: Ospreys by 10
Zebre vs Scarlets: Scarlets by 15
Connacht vs Treviso: Connacht by 12
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster: Ulster by 8
Leinster vs Newport Gwent Dragons: Leinster by 14
Toulon v Bordeaux-Bègles
The last game of the weekend in France is a doozy, pitting high-flying Bordeaux-Bègles up against one of the chasing pack hunting them down in Mike Ford’s Toulon. It’s a sign of UBB’s new standing in France that Tevita Kuridrani was linked with a move to club in recent weeks, potentially to link up with his old mate Adam Ashley-Cooper, and they head to the Stade Félix Mayol full of confidence after a 26-0 whitewash over La Rochelle two weeks ago, when former Blues fly-half Simon Hickey was on form with the boot. Toulon meanwhile need to lay down a marker after their defence was opened up all too easily in the loss to Castres. This is a close one to call… Toulon by six.
Other Top 14 predictions:
Pau vs Clermont Auvergne: Clermont by 8
Grenoble vs Montpellier: Montpellier by 6
Lyon vs Castres: Castres by 12
Stade Français vs Bayonne: Stade by 3
La Rochelle vs Racing 92: Racing by 10
Toulouse vs Brive: Toulouse by 9