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URC, Round 15 - teams and predictions

SATURDAY PREVIEW: South Africa’s top two franchises – the Bulls and Stormers – are under immense pressure to bounce back from their disappointing results last weekend.

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With only nine points separating the third-placed Munster and 11th-place Lions, who are one of four teams currently tied on 39 points along with Edinburgh, Connacht and Ulster – it is a scramble for quarterfinal spots

Fortunately for the Bulls and Lions, all their remaining matches are in South Africa, which will give them a mental boost as they stake their play-off claims.

However, the sixth-placed Stormers will have their work cut out to finish in the top eight, as they still have a tour lined up to Wales and Ireland, while they are currently tied on 40 points with the seventh-placed Ospreys – only one above the chasing pack on 39 points.

Saturday is another jam-packed day in SA as the Bulls host Ospreys in Pretoria, the Lions welcome defending champions Munster to Johannesburg, and the Stormers take on log-leaders Leinster in Cape Town.

Outside of the three games on South African soil, in Europe, there are three fixtures that also carry significant gravitas to what the final log will look like.

Zebre host second-placed Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh take on Cardiff and Dragons take on Connacht.

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Bulls will be wary of Ospreys when they take the field at Loftus Versfeld, especially after the Welsh outfit surprised the Stormers with a 27-21 victory in Cape Town last week.

“People are surprised that they [Ospreys] won in Cape Town because for any team it is a really tough place to win,” Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said, adding: “And credit to them they probably deserve that win.

“But to be fair, when you look at their results they’re all very close. It’s not like teams can blow them away. They stay in the fight and have been the top Welsh team in all three seasons, so consistently they have been the toughest team to play against.”

A win for the Bulls would help keep fate in their own hands and White says their focus is on exactly that.

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“We still have our destiny in our own hands, we still have three games at home until the end of this campaign,” White said.

“Every game has to be like a final in a competition that is as competitive as this league where everyone is still in it with a chance.

“There are so many permutations that can happen and while we can control winning at Loftus and still have a chance of getting the final game, then we still have our destiny in our own control and that is important.”

The Bulls’ top-two ambitions could also get a huge boost from their South African counterparts when the Lions face third-placed Munster and Stormers take on log-leaders Leinster.

The Lions will be determined to build on their morale-boosting 44-12 victory against Leinster when and will enter the match well aware of the importance of a victory to possibly power their way back into the top eight.

However, the Gautengers will be wary of the Irish giants, who are currently in third place on the log after registering nine wins in their 14 matches – the last of which was a valuable bonus-point win against the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.

Home-ground advantage aside, the Johannesburgers will draw encouragement from the fact that they have scored 66 more points than the visitors to date, but they will be mindful of the fact that Munster are the second-best defensive team in the competition.

To make things more interesting, Munster boasts a host of internationals which should set the scene for a thrilling clash.

“For us to have success this weekend we will have to focus on ourselves,” Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys cautioned

“We have to focus on our processes and not allow the Munster’s star power to distract us.

“If you focus too much on other things, you tend to forget what you need to do so it’s vitally important that we concentrate on us while being aware of what we will be up against.”

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The Stormers will want to put in a big performance against Leinster as they look to remain in the top eight and in the longer term possibly leap into the top four in the closing rounds.

The Capetonians will face a desperate Leinster outfit, who now hold only a narrow one-point lead at the top of the standings.

The Irish also have the bragging rights as the second-best attacking team in the competition.

It will be a big test for the Stormers. However, the home side will draw inspiration from the fact that they played to a 22-22 in the last outing between the sides in Ireland last season.

Stormers coach John Dobson braces himself for another challenging match at Cape Town Stadium.

“Their [Leinster’s] result against Lions is unfortunate for us because they were so good last week in so many areas but the scoreboard and that is unacceptable for them,” Dobson noted.

“So as much as we got to bounce back, they have to do the same. They also have Glasgow breathing down their neck for the top and that is something they can’t mess around with.

“We know how good and organised they are and the major threat is that they are a major proud team, so we are expecting a really high-level tough match.”

Stormers veteran Brok Harris, who will become the first player to reach 150 appearances for the franchise, said his team need to be flawless against the good Leinster side.

“We know if we not going to be at the top of a game tomorrow [Saturday] against Leinster, who are a quality outfit, we will struggle,” Harris said.

“It all comes down to mindset and execution.”

All the Saturday’s teams and predictions follow below …

Zebre v Glasgow Warriors
(Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT; 13.00 Ireland & UK time)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by 12 points

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Franco Smith Jr, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Geronimo Prisciantelli (captain), 9 Thomas Dominguez, 8 Giacomo Ferrari, 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Guido Volpi, 5 Dylan de Leeuw, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Muhamed Hasa, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Danilo Fischetti
Replacements: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Samuele Taddei, 18 Juan Pitinari, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 David Sisi, 21 Ratko Jelic, 22 Fetuli Paea, 23 Taina Fox-Matamua

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Kyle Steyn (captain), 13 Stafford McDowall, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Kyle Rowe, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Jamie Dobie, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Ally Miller, 5 Max Williamson, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 Gregor Hiddleston, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Euan Ferrie, 21 Gregor Brown, 22 George Horne, 23 Tom Jordan

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Filipo Jones (Italy) and Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Colin Stanley (Ireland)

Bulls v Ospreys
(Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT; 14.00 Ireland & UK Time)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Bulls by five points

Teams: 

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw (captain), 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Reinhardt Ludwig, 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Jaco van der Valt, 23 Devon Williams

Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Luke Davies, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Morgan Morse, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Rhys Henry, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Ben Warren, 19 James Ratti, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Evardi Boshoff

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadzweni (South Africa) and Hanru van Rooyen (South Africa)
TMO: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Cardiff v Edinburgh
(Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff – Kick-off: 15.05; 14.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Edinburgh by three points

Teams

Cardiff: 15 Cam Winnett, 14 Harri Millard, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Mackenzie Martin, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Alex Mann, 5 Teddy Williams, 4 Ben Donnell, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Liam Belcher (captain), 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Thomas Young, 21 James Botham, 22 Ellis Bevan, 23 Jacob Beetham

Edinburgh: 15 Wes Goosen, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matt Currie, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ali Price, 8 Luke Crosbie, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Chris Dean

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Maickel English (Wales) and Elgan Williams (Wales)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Lions v Munster
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT; 16.00 Ireland & UK time)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by five points

Teams

Lions: 15 Jordan Hendrikse, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Ruan Delport, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Morgan Naude
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 JP Smith, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Ruan Venter, 21 Sibusiso Sangweni, 22 Nico Steyn, 23 Gianni Lombard

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Seán O’Brien, 11 Shane Daly 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack O’Donoghue, 7 Alex Kendellen, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Tadhg Beirne (captain), 4 RG Snyman, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman
Replacements: 16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Tom Ahern, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Mike Haley

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa) and Dylen November (South Africa)
TMO: Adam Jones (Wales)

Stormers v Leinster
(Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 GMT; 18.05 Ireland and UK time)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Stomer by 10 points

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Connor Evans, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Stefan Ungerer, 23 Wandisile Simelane

Leinster: 15 Henry McErlean, 14 Liam Turner, 13 Ben Brownlee, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Rob Russell, 10 Sam Prendergast, 9 Cormac Foley, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny (captain), 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Brian Deeny, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 John McKee, 1 Michael Milne
Replacements: 16 Gus McCarthy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Thomas Clarkson, 19 Conor O’Tighearnaigh, 20 Diarmuid Mangan, 21 Fintan Gunne, 22 Charlie Tector, 23 Martin Moloney

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Marius vd Westhuizen (South Africa) and Christopher Allison (South Africa)
TMO: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)

Dragons v Connacht
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 20.00; 19.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Connacht by five points

Teams:

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Ewan Rosser, 10 Cai Evans, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Harri Keddie, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Rhodri Jones
Replacements: 16 James Benjamin, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Luke Yendle, 19 George Nott, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Che Hope, 22 Will Reed, 23 Joe Westwood

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Shane Jennings, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 John Porch, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Matthew Devine, 8 Cian Prendergast, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Joe Joyce, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Oisín Dowling, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Cathal Forde, 23 Paul Boyle

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear (Wales) and Gareth Newman (Wales)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

*Additional reporting: URC 

 

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