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Steep learning curve for SA franchises

URC ROUND TWO – TEAMS AND PREDICTIONS: South African teams’ steep learning curve in Europe will continue on Saturday.


The Sharks and Stormers will both look to bounce back from Round One defeats, but face vastly different challenges in Round Two.

Coming off a 17-42 loss against Munster in Ireland last week, the Sharks face a Scottish challenge this week.

Glasgow, like the Sharks, made a losing start to the new season.

However, unlike the Sharks, Danny Wilson’s Warriors pick up two bonus points – one for losing by seven or less and another for scoring four tries – in a 29-35 loss away to Ulster.

The Sharks, missing a host of Springboks, including captain Siya Kolisi, will be chasing their first victory outside South Africa since a 33-23 Super Rugby success over the Reds in February 2020.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt said the Warriors are one of the teams up north that have Super Rugby traits – playing at a high tempo, a high-line defence system and they carry the ball a lot.


“They do offer a different challenge,” the coach said.

Seasoned lock Gerbrandt Grobler – who faced the Warriors on four previous occasions during his stints at Racing 92 (in European competitions) and Munster (Pro14) – described them as a very good team.

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“It is like playing against Scotland [Test team],” he said, adding that the Sharks are up for the challenge.

“We are not going to back down. We have to go out and prove that we learnt from our loss to Munster last week.”


The venue will also be unfamiliar for the visitors, with an athletics track around the synthetic pitch – removing whatever crowd there is from the players.

“It is not a bad place,” Grobler told @rugby365com, adding: “The crowd is loud, but also respectful.”

He pointed to last week’s experience when the crowd went dead silent when kickers aim at goal, unlike South Africa where spectators become very vocal in an attempt to distract the kickers.

“They appreciate good rugby also.”

The Stormers, following their last-minute loss to Italian outfit Benetton, head in the other direction – to face Munster in Limerick.

This will be the first time the two sides have met in a competitive fixture.

Munster’s only defeat in their last six Pro Rugby matches was a 20-24 home loss to Connacht in the Rainbow Cup.

The Irish province’s only loss to South African opposition in Pro14 was to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in October 2019.

The Stormers have not won outside South Africa since an April 2019 Super Rugby victory over the Rebels.

Stormers coach John Dobson said his team is “determined” to rise to the challenge.

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“These are the sorts of games that every player wants to be involved in, so our players will leave it all out there this weekend,” he said, adding that they will have to be accurate in their execution in all aspects of the game.

Dobson admitted the prospects of precipitation means the role of recalled veteran prop Brok Harris will be vital to guiding the younger players through the challenge.

The 36-year-old front row forward has the experience of 130-odd games for the Welsh-based Dragons – to go with more than 200 outings for Western Province (120) and the Stormers (90-odd).

Harris said defence, linked to discipline, will play a “massive role” against a Munster team that knows how to keep the ball in hand and take it through the phases.

“With [Wallaby legend] Stephen Larkham there [as a senior coach] – coming in as an attack consultant – they will attempt to get a little bit more width,” the front row veteran said.

“Our job will be to disrupt them defensively.”

Dobson spoke about the need to ‘physically’ match the Munster brutes – including Cape Town product Jean Kleyn.

“JK [Kleyn] is someone we are all very familiar with,” he said of a player that featured in 40-odd games for Western Province and the Stormers, before heading off to Munster in 2016.

“He is a guy that likes moving bodies,” the coach said, adding he is looking forward to Kleyn’s face-off with Griquas import Adre Smith – himself a physical specimen.

“That will be a sideshow worth watching,” Dobson said.

“Salmaan [Moerat] and Adre [Smith] won’t stand back.”

To add to the spectacle, Munster will introduce World Cup-winning Springbok Rudolph Snyman later in the game – as the lock continues his comeback from injury.

“I have faith in our team. Willie Engelbrecht is another body-stopper,” the coach added.

All the Saturday teams and predictions and below the video

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Saturday, October 2

Benetton v Edinburgh
(Stadio Comunable Di Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 Ireland & UK time; 12.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Benetton by nine points


Benetton: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Joaquin Riera, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Riccardo Favretto, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Nahuel Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Ivan Nemer, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.

Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Jack Blain, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Chris Dean, 23 Ramiro Moyano.

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino (Italy), Filippo Russo (Italy)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Glasgow Warriors v Sharks
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 15.05; 16.05 SA time; 14.05 GMT)


@rugby365com: Glasgow by five points


Glasgow Warriors: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Sione Tuipolotu, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rufus McLean, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Murphy Walker, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Ally Miller, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Stafford McDowall.

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Murray Koster, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Gerbrandt Grobler, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 James Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Jeremy Ward.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown (Scotland), Dunx McClement (Scotland),
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Zebre v Ulster
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 18.15; 17.15 Ireland & UK time; 16.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Ulster by 18 points


Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Giulio Bisegni (captain), 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Asaeli Tuivuaka, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Potu Junior Leavasa, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Renato Giammarioli, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Jacopo Trulla.

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 James Hume, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 David McCann, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 Brad Roberts, 17 Callum Reid, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Mike Lowry, 23 Ben Moxham.

Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Clara Munarini (Italy), Luca Trentin (Italy),
TMO: Wayne Davies (Wales)

Ospreys v Cardiff
(Liberty Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)


@rugby365com: Ospreys by five points


Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler.

Cardiff: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Matthew Morgan.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear (Wales), Jason Morris (Wales),
TMO: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)

Munster v Stormers
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off: 19.35; 20.35 SA time; 18.35 GMT)


@rugby365com: Munster by 15 points


Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Keynan Knox, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jack O’Sullivan, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Simon Zebo.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 Salmaan Moerat, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Rikus Pretorius.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Oisin Quinn (Ireland), Daniel Carson (Ireland),
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)

Sunday, October 3

Dragons v Leinster
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Leinster by 19 points


Dragons: 15 Josh Lewis, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Sam Davies (captain), 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Ross Moriarty (captain), 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Ioan Davies.

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Rob Russell, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Conor O’Brien, 11 Rory O’Loughlin, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 James Ryan (captain), 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Scott Penny.

Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans (Wales), Jason Bessant (Wales),
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)


* Additional reporting by @URCOfficial

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