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PREVIEW: Final URC round set to decide playoff destiny of SA sides

The curtain comes down on the URC’s regular season this weekend, with the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls all still in the hunt for home quarter-final places. Shaun Goosen previews.

Grant Williams of the Sharks - URC

The curtain comes down on the URC's regular season this weekend, with the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls all still in the hunt for home quarter-final places. Shaun Goosen previews.

URC

Friday 20 May

Benetton 3/100 | Draw 22/1 | Cardiff 26/10(19:00)

Handicap
Benetton (-6.5) 17/20 | Cardiff (+6.5) 17/20

Cardiff should see their season out with a win over Benetton at the Stadio Comunale Monigo on Friday. 13th-ranked Cardiff, two points and one place ahead of their opponents this week, have endured a disappointing campaign this season but should still have enough in the tank to see off a Benetton outfit with one win all year.

I’ll be backing Cardiff on the board here, however, for a bit more safety get on the pretty generous plus line.

Ulster 1/3 | Draw 22/1 | Sharks 51/20 (20:35)

Handicap
Ulster (-7.5) 17/20 | Sharks (+7.5) 17/20

Ulster should have too much for the Sharks when the sides clash at the Kingspan on Friday. The hosts have won seven from eight at home in the URC and, like the Sharks, can cement a top-four finish with a victory here. It’ll be tight but one the Northern Irishmen should sneak.

The Sharks have Lukhanyo Am back in their ranks which will bolster what was a problem area for them in recent weeks. I think Ulster will get the win here, but the Sharks will run them close. Get on the plus. 

Ospreys 68/100 | Draw 25/1 | Bulls 5/4 (21:00)

Ospreys can seal the Welsh Shield with a win over the Bulls at the Liberty on Friday. The hosts are locked on 44-points with Scarlets but sit top of the region courtesy of their superior points difference. While they will have to toil here, they should manage to collect four points at the very least.

I’m on the Welsh side to put an end to any hopes the Bulls had of hosting a home quarter-final. 

Saturday 21 May

Dragons 31/20 | Draw 22/1 | Lions 57/100 (16:00)

Handicap
Dragons (+3.5) 17/20 | Lions (-3.5) 17/20

The Lions will look to end their debut campaign on a high with a win over Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday. As the only Saffa franchise not to make the playoffs, there will be a sense of disappointment in the Lions camp, but there have been many positives that Cash van Rooyen will look to build on ahead of next season. They should get the job done here.

Tough one to call. If the Lions show up and perform anywhere near their best they should bag the win. It could be a close-fought encounter though. As such, I’m on the Dragons plus. 

Connacht 1/100, Draw 45/1, Zebre 13/1 (18:00)

Handicap
Connacht (-25.5) 17/20 | Zebre (+25.5) 17/20

Connacht host Zebre at the Galway Greyhound Stadium on Saturday with an eye on evening out their win/ loss ratio this season. The hosts have won eight and lost nine in a season of many what ifs, but a big victory here, against a team with just one W all season, should be a good way to go out.

There’s only one way to go here, and that’s to back the Irish side on the minus. 

Scarlets 31/20 | Draw 22/1 | Stormers 56/100 (18:10)

Handicap
Scarlets (+3.5) 17/20 | Stormers (-3.5) 17/20

The Stormers can cement their top-four place with a win over Scarlets at the Parc y Scarlets on Saturday. John Dobson’s men have been exceptional of late and could yet host a quarterfinal with defeat here. While Scarlets are in their own fight for the Welsh Shield, the Capetonians should ultimately prevail.

I’m on the Cape side to win on the board here. Although if they play anywhere near their best they should be able to clear a relatively modest handicap. 

Edinburgh 78/100 | Draw 25/1 | Glasgow 21/20

Handicap
Edinburgh (-2.5) 17/20 | Glasgow (+2.5) 17/20

Edinburgh welcome Glasgow to Murrayfield on Saturday with the 1872 Cup on the line. Both sides are locked on 50 points with The Warriors having claimed a 39-17 win earlier this season. While Edinburgh should ultimately claim a narrow win here to win the Scottish/Italian Shield, they won’t score enough to win back the 1872 Cup.

I’m on Glasgow to remain within a very tight handicap here. 

Leinster 39/20, Draw 20/1, Munster 44/100

Munster should outdo a second-string Leinster side at the Aviva on Saturday to seal a home quarterfinal. With the Champions Cup final a week away, Leo Cullen has opted to rest his stars for this clash, which should give the Red Army just the gap they need to nail a bonus-point win — and possibly second place.

Get on Munster to bag the all-important win here!

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