The URC is back after a three-week hiatus, with all four SA franchises at home against the Welsh outfits.
Friday 25 November
Stormers 1/16 | Draw 35/1 | Scarlets 15/2
Stormers (-17.5) 9/10 | Scarlets (+17.5) 9/10
The defending champions are fourth but sit level on points with the third-placed Bulls following their 31-22 away win over the Lions in the last round. With their next four-straight games in the competition all coming at home, John Dobson’s boys will be eager to capitalise and attempt to keep pace with runaway leaders Leinster at the summit.
Scarlets have fallen a long way since the Wayne Pivac days. Thus far, the men from Llanelli have won just one game to occupy 15th and have done little to suggest they will improve on their 10th-place finish from last season.
Neither team will have their full internationals to call on for this one, but regardless the Capetonians should expect to clear the handicap in Cape Town.
Ulster N/A | Draw 45/1 | Zebre 13/1
Ulster (-28.5) 9/10 | Zebre (+28.5) 9/10
Second-placed Ulster are five from six and trail Leinster by eight points at the top of the table with a game in hand. Their last result was a 15-14 win at Thomond Park, one which ended an eight-year drought for them at the venue and added to their already impressive momentum as they continue to challenge for a home playoff spot.
Despite their best efforts this season, Zebre have yet to break their bagel and sit bottom of the standings with just four points. They won’t be on Ulster’s level at the Kingspan but should lose within the handicap. Back the Italian side on the plus.
Saturday 26 November
Benetton 1/1 | Draw 18/1 | Edinburgh 17/20
Benetton kicked off their campaign with three wins from their first four matches but have since leaked 134-points in three-straight defeats, scoring just 30. They’re 11th overall though, just a point shy of the Champions Cup places, but while Europe’s premier club rugby competition may just be out of reach this season, they’ll be eager to continue building under coach Marco Bortolami an eye on the future.
While Edinburgh did triumph 53-8 in the reverse fixture just last month, they had their full complement of Scotland internationals available then, with Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham running riot. Mike Blair won’t have as much firepower at his disposal this time round which could leave them vulnerable at the Stadio Comunale Monigo.
Get on Benetton on even money here.
🦁 Sabato a Monigo si giocherà #BenettonRugby 🆚 #EdinburghRugby— Benetton Rugby 🦁 (@BenettonRugby) November 23, 2022
📽️ Un anno fa i #Leoni vinsero per 28-27 con il fantastico drop di #Marin
📺 Rivivi l'indimenticabile vittoria su https://t.co/2vQvnHf1nl ➡️ https://t.co/FCpYutYVpD#wearelions pic.twitter.com/LW6t0xDCsz
Bulls 1/33 | Draw 40/1 | Ospreys 11/1
Bulls (-21.5) 9/10 | Ospreys (+21.5) 9/10
With the likes of Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje and Simphiwe Matanzima back, Jake White is able to name a virtual full-strength Bulls side for this one at Loftus. Last season’s runners-up are third with five wins so far and, aside from two rocky displays against Glasgow and Munster on tour, there’s every reason to believe they will be right in the playoff fight again at season’s end.
Despite their large Welsh international contingent, Ospreys have won just one of their seven games to occupy 13th. Toby Booth wasn’t able to name any Test players in his touring party, so the likes of experienced Lions scrumhalf Rhys Webb and in-form back-rower Keelan Giles will be expected to lead from the front in the Republic.
At altitude, and given Ospreys struggles, get on the Bulls to clear the ‘cap.
Leinster 1/11 | Draw 45/1 | Glasgow Warriors 13/2
Leinster (-16.5) 9/10 | Glasgow (+16.5) 9/10
Yet again Leinster are the competition’s standard-bearer. Having won all seven of their games, and boasting an eight-point lead at the summit of the standings, Leo Cullen’s charges are well on their way to securing top spot once more.
Glasgow are seventh and will again be right in the mix come the playoffs. They trail Scottish/Italian Shield leaders Edinburgh by seven points, albeit with a game in hand, and will look to close that gap as the season progresses.
Given the hosts’ insane depth, a Warriors upset here is unlikely, though they should stay within a pretty tall handicap. Glasgow plus here.
Munster 21/100 | Draw 23/1 | Connacht 37/10
Munster (-10.5) 19/20 | Connacht (+10.5) 17/20
Just one-point separates 14th-placed Munster and 12th-placed Connacht with the two sides having struggled big time this term. Graham Rowntree’s debut season in Limerick has been far from convincing, with the Munstermen languishing after just two wins from their opening seven. The hard-nosed former England prop will hope his hard work during the competition layoff begins to pay dividends here.
Connacht began the season with arguably the toughest schedule of any team and will be looking towards the remainder of the campaign to claw their way up the ladder. They’ll keep it tight this weekend but should ultimately just fall short.
Back the away side on the plus.
Sunday 27 November
Lions 1/9 | Draw 33/1 | Dragons 56/10
Lions (-14.5) 9/10 | Dragons (+14.5) 9/10
The Lions will be out to claim a fourth win this season on Sunday. The Joburgers are ninth with three from six and remain very much in the fight for a top-eight berth, though they must still contend with a hectic schedule to come.
Dragons are one-point and one place back of the hosts but will be eyeing a surprise assault on Ivan van Roooyen’s men here. Former Bok captain Bobby Skinstad already tipped them to give the Lions trouble this week, and this writer is in full agreement.
Get on a Dragons upset in the Lion’s Den.
With the Vodacom URC one week closer, let’s have a look at our Tau South Africa Players’ Man of The Match Awards for the last 3 Rounds of action:— Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) November 17, 2022
Round 4️⃣ vs Edinburgh: Henco van Wyk
Round 5️⃣ vs Ulster: Francke Horn
Round 7️⃣ vs Stormers: Emmanuel Tshituka
Sharks 1/12 | Draw 35/1 | Cardiff 13/2
Sharks (-17.5) 9/10 | Cardiff (+17.5) 9/10
The Sharks are on a five-match winning streak at home and should extend that here. While they may be without their Springboks for this one, they should have more than enough quality to see off this Cardiff outfit at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.
Dai Young’s men are sixth but will struggle to win on their tour to the Republic, especially with the Bulls next. While they have produced some encouraging displays this season, most notably in their defeat of the Stormers at a wet Cardiff Arms Park, they shouldn’t pose too much of a threat in the Durban humidity.
Get on Cardiff on the plus.