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PREVIEW: 6 URC derbies to kick 2022 off

The festive fare continues this weekend with six URC derbies coming your way from around Europe. Darry Worthington previews.

URC - Zebre vs Lions
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The festive fare continues this weekend with six URC derbies coming your way from around Europe. Darry Worthington previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Saturday 1 January

Dragons 7/4 | Draw 20/1 | Cardiff 49/100 (17:00)

This game is hanging in the balance with the Welsh government implementing new restrictions to combat the spread of Omicron and both sides facing outbreaks in their camps.

With last weekend’s fixtures called off, the latest outings these teams had were in Europe where Cardiff went down 7-39 to Toulouse and 43-17 to Harlequins while the Dragons went down 28-41 and 22-16 to Perpignan.

The Dragons have only won once in the URC this term and I can see them struggling again here.

Scarlets 9/20 | Draw 20/1 | Ospreys 19/10 (19:05)

The New Year’s Day action continues in Wales with the 11th-placed Scarlets taking on the fourth-placed Ospreys. The hosts have only managed two wins from their five URC fixtures while the visitors have won five of their seven games.

The Scarlets have now been out of action for a month with their European fixtures called off due to COVID while the Ospreys forfeited one of their two Champions Cup games against Racing while going down 13-21 to Sale in the other.

Again, I’m on the away side here. They are a much better team and I can see them having little trouble getting the win here.

Connacht 31/20 | Draw 20/1 | Munster 56/100 (19:15)

This is one of the games that’s more likely to go ahead with Connacht and Munster reporting no new COVID outbreaks in their squads on Tuesday evening.

Connacht’s most recent results saw them beaten by Stade Francais 36-9 and 29-23 by Gallagher Premiership leaders, Leicester. Munster fared better in the opening two rounds of the Champions Cup beating Wasps 14-35 and Castres 19-13.

Munster have a really deep squad and are better equipped to deal with the havoc that COVID 19 is having on playing personnel.

Ulster 12/10 | Draw 20/1 | Leinster 72/100 (21:35)

We’re on to the next Irish derby and this one may well not go ahead with Leinster waiting approval to return to training and Ulster having seen their Boxing Day game against Connacht called off by local health authorities, who could well do the same this weekend.

If this game does go ahead it should be a cracker as the hosts currently sit in third on the URC standings and are only four points adrift of log leaders Leinster.

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 Leinster beat Bath 45-20 and forfeited their game to Montpellier.

If this does go ahead I’ll be on the hosts here. They have a solid squad who have performed admirably at home this term. This, coupled with Leinster’s slight dip in form, the 12/10 looks a treat. 

Sunday 2 January 

Treviso 1/16 | Draw 35/1 | Zebre 8/1 (15:00)

Treviso and Zebre will lock horns for the second time in a week. The hosts registered a convincing win last Friday running out 14-39 victors.

They looked by far the better side and ran in tries for fun. We can expect the same this weekend especially with them being at home.

Treviso should win this comfortably. 

Edinburgh 71/100 | Draw 20/1 | Glasgow 12/10 (16:00)

Edinburgh and Glasgow are next up and this should be a cracker if it goes ahead. The two teams were due to meet on Monday night but the fixture was called off late in the day.

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.

The hosts are having a really good season and I’m backing them to have the most positive starts to the new year.

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