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PREVIEW: 2023/24 URC – Round 7

Clashes between the Bulls and Hollywoodbets Sharks, Munster v Glasgow Warriors and Connacht/ Leinster headline round seven URC action. Shaun Goosen previews.

Makazole Mapimpi of the Hollywoodbets Sharks - URC
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Clashes between the Bulls and Hollywoodbets Sharks, Munster v Glasgow Warriors and Connacht/ Leinster headline round seven URC action. Shaun Goosen previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Friday 1 December

Munster 23/100 | Draw 22/1 | Glasgow 34/10 (21:35)

Munster (-10.5) 17/20 | Glasgow (+10.5) 17/20

The defending champs copped their second loss of the season to bitter foes Leinster in Dublin a week ago and will be in for another proper test here in the form of the table-topping Glasgow Warriors. Graham Rowntree’s men will be buoyed by the Thomond Park faithful but should brace for a real challenge.

Franco Smith has done wonders with his Glaswegian outfit so far, as evidenced by their recent 33-20 home win over Ulster. Another victory in Limerick on Friday would well and truly put them in the race for automatic semi-final qualification, but it won’t be easy.

Verdict: Glasgow (10.5) 17/20

Warriors will come close but should ultimately succumb to the Red Army.

Saturday 2 December

Bulls 32/100 | Draw 20/1 | Hollywoodbets Sharks 26/10 (15:00)

Bulls (-7.5) 17/20 | Sharks (+7.5) 17/20

Jake White’s side are the envy of the South African franchises this season, sitting third after winning four from their six so far. They put a good Connacht side to the sword on the highveld last week and while the Sharks will get closer than the Irish outfit’s 26 points, it will be an uphill battle.

The Durbanites arrested their five-game losing streak at home to Dragons in round six thanks to the return of their SA internationals, but the Bulls at Loftus are a different beast entirely. It’s unlikely the team would have settled sufficiently since the World Cup-winners’ arrival and they may be caught short in a few departments come matchday.

Verdict: Bulls (-7.5) 17/20

This settled Bulls team should do the business at home.

Cardiff 3/10 | Draw 22/1 | Scarlets 11/4 (17:00)

Cardiff (-7.5) 17/20 | Scarlets (+7.5) 17/20

10th-placed Cardiff will take heart from their win over the Stormers in the last round and should be confident of claiming this one at the Arms Park to avenge their six-point loss to the same opponents at the beginning of the month.

The struggles continued for Scarlets last week, with last-placed outfit falling to a 9-31 drubbing at Ospreys. While they will take heart from their recent victory over their south-eastern rivals, Cardiff look good at home.

Verdict: Scarlets (+7.5) 17/20

This should be another close call but the hosts to take it.

Lions N/A | Draw 45/1 | Dragons 14/1 (17:05)

Lions (-28.5) 17/20 | Dragons (+28.5) 17/20

The Lions should have no problem seeing off Dragons on the Highveld. The Pride are 10th but continually punched above their weight on their Euro tour and head into this one off the back of a resounding 61-19 defeat of Zebre in Jozi.

The men from Newport are 15th following their 69-14 capitulation in Durban and don’t have much hope at altitude.

Verdict: Lions (-28.5) 17/20

The hosts will run away with this.

Stormers N/A | Draw 45/1 | Zebre 15/1 (19:15)

Stormers (-33.5) 17/20 | Zebre (+33.5) 17/20

Zebre’s SA tour doesn’t get any easier this weekend when they tackle a hurting Stormers outfit in the Cape. Given John Dobson’s side’s dismal record of late, heading into this one after losing all four of their games up north, one would think they will hit back hard here.

Zebre were beaten 19-61 in Joburg a week ago and don’t have much hope for an upset.

Verdict: Stormers (-33.5) 17/20

The hosts should clear the handicap.

Ulster 2/11 | Draw 25/1 | Edinburgh 42/10 (17:15)

Ulster (-11.5) 17/20 | Edinburgh (+11.5) 17/20

Ulster are third after their loss in Glasgow last week and will be eager to get back up and running here ahead of the Champions Cup break. Dan McFarland’s charges are level on points with Edinburgh (18) but will expect a comfortable win in Belfast.

Edinburgh were frustrated at home by Benetton last time out which could give them some added drive on their trip to Northern Ireland.

Verdict: Edinburgh (+11.5) 17/20

Edinburgh should be able to keep Ulster within eyeshot.

Connacht 29/10 | Draw 22/1 | Leinster 2/7 (21:35)

Connacht (+8.5) 17/20 | Leinster (-8.5) 17/20

Connacht mean business this season, with last week’s loss in Pretoria marking just their second overall. They welcome mighty Leinster to Galway this weekend where they will definitely be looking to lay down a marker.

Leinster can continue to build up steam ahead of their upcoming Champions Cup ties and should capitalise on what could be a fatigued Connacht outfit just having returned from their tour of SA.

Verdict: Connacht (+8.5) 17/20

The home side to cop a narrow defeat.

Benetton 1/3 | Draw 22/1 | Ospreys 5/2 (21:35)

Benetton (-7.5) 17/20 | Ospreys (+7.5) 17/20

Benetton are looking to hit new heights this season, sitting sixth and level on 18 points with five other challengers following their fantastic win in the Scottish capital a week ago. Saturday’s clash will mark the first of a double header against Ospreys, with the teams set to clash in the Challenge Cup next week.

The ninth-placed Swanseans continue to lead the way in the Welsh Shield, but their performances so far have been nothing to shout about.

Verdict: Benetton (-7.5) 17/20

Benetton to win by over a converted score.

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