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PREVIEW: 4 Festive URC derbies to look forward to

After a two week break for European Challenge and Champions Cup action, the inaugural URC returns with an eye-catching, albeit shortened, set of festive derby fixtures.

Stuart McCloskey of Ulster URC
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

After a two week break for European Challenge and Champions Cup action, the inaugural URC returns with an eye-catching, albeit shortened, set of festive derby fixtures.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Friday 24 December

Zebre 39/20 | Draw 20/1 | Benetton 9/20 (15:00)

The first of this weekend’s four-game fixture list pits Italian foes Zebre and Treviso up against each other. The two sides have experienced vastly contrasting opening halves of the campaign with the hosts currently stone last on the standings with zero wins from their opening seven fixtures while Treviso are in eighth having won three of their games.

The hosts head into this one off the back of two Challenge Cup defeats going down 13-26 to Biarritz and Toulon 28-14 while Treviso went down 54-25 to Gloucester in their most recent game.

These Italian derbies tend to be rather scrappy and close-run affairs and I’m expecting no difference this weekend. My money is on the away side sneaking a win.

Sunday 26 December

Cardiff | Draw | Scarlets (17:00) * betting tba

We head to Wales for our next derby which sees the Cardiff Blues take on the Scarlets. Both teams sit mid-table on the URC standings with Cardiff in ninth and the Scarlets in 11th.

Both teams have enjoyed decent enough starts to the campaign with Cardiff winning three of their five and the Scarlets winning two of their five.

Both teams were supposed to be involved in European action over the past fortnight but the Blues were the only ones to play with the Scarlets fixtures game against Bristol called off due to COVID. Cardiff’s rag-tag team went down 7-39 to Toulouse and 43-17 to Harlequins.

The Blues should be too strong at home for the Scarlets, especially if they’re back to full strength.

Ulster 29/100 | Draw 22/1 | Connacht 28/10 (19:15)

We head to Ireland for our next match which sees high flying Ulster take on a dangerous Connacht side. The hosts currently sit in third on the URC standings and are only four points adrift of log leaders Leinster. Connacht are a further four places back in seventh.

As far as these sides latest results go, Ulster come into this one off the back of two impressive Champions Cup wins beating Clermont 23-29 and Northampton 27-22, while Connacht make the trip having beaten Stade Francais 36-9 and then gone down 29-23 to Gallagher Premiership leaders, Leicester.

The hosts should be far too strong at the Sportsground.

Monday 27 December

Glasgow 9/20 | Draw 20/1 | Edinburgh 19/10 (21:00)

The curtain comes down on the Christmas fixtures list on Monday evening with Glasgow and Edinburgh set to lock horns in an all Scottish affair.

The visitors have enjoyed a fantastic start to the URC season and currently lie in third having won five and drawn one of their seven fixtures. Glasgow haven’t been as eye-catching and head into this one with four wins from their seven games. They currently lie in fifth place on the standings.

Both teams fared well enough in the European stuff with Edinburgh beating Saracens 18-21 in London while Glasgow went down to LA Rochelle but then responded with a convincing win over the Exeter Chiefs.

I’m going to go against the grain with this one and back the away side as I feel they are just a much better outfit at the minute.

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