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URC Round 10 - teams and predictions

PREVIEW: The BIG derby is in Cape Town, but Durban is where the weekend’s ‘festivities’ will get underway.


The vastly improved Lions will arrive at Kings Park to get underway the Christmas weekend’s derbies against the Sharks.

It is a big occasion, mostly because of the high-profile names in the home team’s line-up.

Lions forwards coach Albert van der Berg told his team to ’embrace’ the occasion.

“You don’t often get the opportunity to play against some many Springboks,” Van der Berg said of a Sharks team that will feature Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Thomas du Toit in the starting XV – with Siyamthanda Kolisi and Jaden Hendrikse on the bench.

“That is where you measure yourself, against those guys,” he added.

“As a team, we can measure ourselves and see where our shortcomings are – what aspects are working and not working for us.


“We know it is going to be physical and playing in Durban is not easy.”

Having not beaten South African opposition since November 2021, the Lions are beginning to develop a mental block.

However, Van der Berg said they must stay in the play-off race.

“We know what they are going to bring,” he said of the Sharks.


“They have a good overall kicking game, an exciting backline and a decent pack of forwards.

“It will be important for us to start well, stay in the fight as long as possible and hopefully get the win.”

He said that are not going to dwell too much on their unbeaten run – which includes two URC and two Challenge Cup outings.

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“The feeling is that we can improve on certain aspects of our game from both an individual and team perspective.

“It’s going to be tough for us against a well-coached Sharks side and while we take the confidence of not having lost in recent weeks, we won’t take this occasion for granted.”

Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell said they will be looking to keep their momentum from the two-match winning streak in the European Cup – where they beat Harlequins (39-31) and Bordeaux-Bègles (19-16).

He added that they would ‘judge’ their performance on the effort put in by the players.

“It is obviously going to be a physical battle, looking at the forwards the Lions selected,” Powell said.

Powell also said ‘rotation’ and ‘player management’ are behind some of the selections – with Bok stars Eben Etzebeth and Mbongeni Mbonambi rested, while Bok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi is playing off the bench.

“We are in a block where we play 11 consecutive games and we are only at the fifth game,” the Sharks boss said, adding: “There are another six games after this, so it is going to be important for us to manage our squad to get through these 11 weeks.

“It’s an opportunity for a guy like Eben to get a break and play Siyamthanda off the bench.

Ox [Retshegofaditswe Nche] is still suspended, but he will hopefully be back for the Bulls game next week.”

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* In Cape Town the most traditional and biggest rivalry in the game in South Africa resumes – the North-South derby.

It is a rivalry that elicits all kinds of emotional outbursts and certainly matters to both teams – especially given their proximity to each other on the URC standings.

“They would not have rested 21 players for two Champions Cup games if this match did not matter to the Bulls,” Stormers coach John Dobson said of their rivals’ decision to field a team of fringe players in Europe’s most prestigious tournament.

“It, obviously, matters to us. We are playing at home and have gone 370-odd days without losing at home.

“It is a cracking game for South African rugby and it means a lot to us.

“That will be reflected in how we fight tomorrow [Friday].”

The other aspect that adds spice to the massive rivalry is that they now include ‘festive derbies’ – with the South African season now including full-on summer rugby.

“They are going to become part of our rugby tradition going forward,” Dobson said of the change of season, adding: “This is an exciting new chapter in the rivalry between the two teams..”

“We have had some injury disruptions this week, but have managed to build some good depth this season and you can be sure that every player in our matchday squad will be ready to give it everything.

“This is a big match for both sets of fans and we are looking forward to what should be a fantastic atmosphere at Stadium on Friday.”

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* There are two other derbies on Friday – one in Scotland and one in Ireland.

Glasgow Warriors host Edinburgh at Scotstoun Stadium, an encounter described by Edinburgh coach Mike Blair as an “absolutely brilliant” and “historic” fixture.

“This is a derby that has stood the test of time and we’re proud to celebrate 150 years of rugby rivalry in a match-up that is a cornerstone of Scottish rugby history.

“There has been a brilliant buzz around training this week, which you’d expect in the build-up to a derby, and I’ve been really impressed with the squad’s attitude and work rate after a strong win against Castres last weekend.

“Derbies are brilliant games to be part of and we’re hugely excited to represent the capital city at Scotstoun.”

In Ireland Connacht host Ulster at The Sportsground, in Galway.

Connacht Director Of Rugby Andy Friend said: “We all realise the importance of the game in our aim for a top-eight finish this season.

“We have a number of players returning to us after a break, and have also included a few players in the 23 who impressed in the Challenge Cup, so there’s a good mix in our matchday squad.

“Games against Ulster are always hugely intense, so the winners will be the ones who front up for the full 80 minutes. With a large crowd behind us and everyone in the Christmas spirit, it’s sure to be a great occasion.”

Ulster assistant coach Dan Soper said: “This game was always going to be a big challenge.

“Connacht has found a rich vein of form of late, and it will be our first time at The Sportsground on the new surface.

“We don’t have any option other than to face up to it. It’s an Interpro, and we’ve had some really tough battles against Connacht. I expect this week to be exactly the same.”

All the teams and predictions follow below

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Sharks v Lions
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Sharks by 12 points


Sharks: 15 Henry Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (captain), 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Vincent Tshituka, 3 Carlu SAdie, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Ben Tapuai.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Rynhardt Jonker, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Ruan Venter, 7 Darrien Landsberg, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Gianni Lombard, 23 Stean Pienaar.

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa) and Paul Mente (South Africa)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuisen (South Africa)

Stormers v Bulls
(Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 19.15; 17.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Stormers by seven points


Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ben-Jason Dixon, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jean-Jacques Kotze, 17 Alister Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Connor Evans, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.

Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Canan Moodie, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco Van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck Du Plessis, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Sebastian Lombard, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Izak Burger, 22 Chris Smit, 23 Stravino Jacobs.

Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa) and Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)


@rugby365com: Glasgow by five points


Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Kyle Steyn (captain), 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Sione Vailanu, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Murphy Walker, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 20 Lewis Bean, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Ali Price, 23 Domingo Miotti.

Edinburgh: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 James Lang, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Jamie Ritchie (co-captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist (co-captain), 4 Glen Young, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Patrick Harrison, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cammy Scott.

Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson (Scotland) and Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

Connacht v Ulster
(The Sportsground, Galway – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)


@rugby365com: Ulster by three points


Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Cian Prendergast, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Oisín Dowling, 5 Niall Murray, 4 Josh Murphy, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Adam Byrne.

Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Ethan McIlroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Nathan Doak, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 David McCann, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Stewart Moore.

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland) and Andrew Cole (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

URC standings after nine rounds


Benetton v Zebre
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 13.30; 12.30 GMT)


@rugby365com: Benetton by 18 points


Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Onisi Ratave, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Joaquin Riera, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Niccolò Cannone, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Cherif Traore.
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Marco Zanon.

Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin (captain), 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Juan Pitinari.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 Dennis Visser, 20 Guido Volpi, 21 Ratko Jelic, 22 Nicolò Teneggi, 23 Tommaso Boni.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Alex Frasson (Italy) and Filippo Russo (Italy)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)


Dragons v Cardiff
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 14.15; 14.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Dragons by three points


Dragons: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Harri Keddie (captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 George Nott, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Brodie Coghlan, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Sio Tomkinson

Cardiff: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Mason Grady.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Mike English (Wales) and Aled Evans (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

Ospreys v Scarlets
(Swansea Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off 17.15; 17.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Ospreys by seven points


Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Jac Morgan, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan Williams, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Joe Hawkins.

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Ioan Nicholas, 12 Jonathan Davies (captain), 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tom Price, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Scott Williams.

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Jones (Wales) and Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Munster v Leinster
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off 19.35; 19.35 GMT)


@rugby365com: Leinster by nine points


Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Jack Crowley, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 Kiran McDonald, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Patrick Campbell.

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose (captain), 12 Jamie Osborne, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Joe McCarthy, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Cian Healy, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 John McKee, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Vakhtang Abdaladze, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Liam Turner.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ireland) and Peter Martin (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)


* Additional reporting by @URCOfficial

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