URC Round Nine - teams and predictions
FRIDAY PREVIEW: Ospreys expect a fierce backlash from a Sharks team in dire need of some uplifting news.
Durban has been cast in a pall of gloom this week – a 0-35 United Rugby Championship whitewash by an impressive Cardiff team last Sunday, followed by the axing of coach Sean Everitt.
It may have been put out to the public as Everitt ‘stepping down’ by mutual consent.
However, the reality is far removed from the propitious media statement issued this past Monday.
And Ospreys attack coach Richard Fussell knows the Sharks are in a world of hurt, looking to make amends for the humiliating events that unfolded.
“We’re expecting a reaction from the Sharks after the Cardiff game,” Fussell said of their hosts – who have lost their last two outings and have not lost three in succession since October 2021.
“Whether it’s a change on the field or an attitude change from them, they’re going to come out all guns blazing,” the Ospreys assistant said.
“However, we’re going to focus on ourselves, as we showed against the Bulls, when we get ourselves right we can be a formidable outfit.”
Springbok World Cup winner Joel Stransky is also expecting a backlash from his former team.
“I feel for Sean [Everitt] a little bit, but at the end of the day, when you have got that many massive big names in your squad and so much talent around and you are not winning tournaments and you are losing 0-35, something is bound to break,” Stransky told a URC round table media event this week.
“I think they will bounce back a little bit.”
Stransky, who slotted the World Cup-winning dropgoal in the 1995 Final, said not having their Springboks available is not an excuse for a Sharks team that offered ‘nothing’ against Cardiff.
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But with a number of Boks back and available this week – the likes of Makazole Mapimpi, Jaden Hendrikse, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Retshegofaditswe Nche starting – they will be a major threat to the Welsh visitors.
The Sharks have played against Welsh regions on six previous occasions, with both of their defeats being to Cardiff.
Ospreys’ only win in their last nine United Rugby Championship encounters was 32-17 at home to Glasgow Warriors on October 1.
The Welsh team’s most recent victory outside of Wales was on a trip to Treviso, beating Benetton 29-26 in October 2021.
Ospreys have not beaten a South African opponent since a 43-7 victory over Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth in April 2019.
The two sides’ only previous meeting was in October 2021 in Swansea, with the Sharks winning 27-13
* Meanwhile, in the other Friday match’ Munster travel to Edinburgh, hoping to continue their climb up the standings.
The fifth-placed Edinburgh’s three-game winning run ended with their shock 17-24 loss to Benetton in Treviso last weekend.
The Scottish outfit lost just one of their last four home games – 19-22 to Lions on October 7.
Edinburgh has won just three of their last 13 fixtures against Irish provinces with all those wins being against Connacht.
Munster beat Connacht 24-17 at Thomond Park last Saturday and have not won successive fixtures in the United Rugby Championship since April.
The Munstermen have won only once away from home in any competition since January: 24-17 against Ulster in Belfast on April 22.
Munster have lost their last six away games in the Championship equalling their poorest-ever run set in 2006. Munster has won four of their last five fixtures against Scottish opponents.
All the teams and predictions for FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, follow below …
Sharks v Ospreys
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 Ireland & UK time; 17.10 GMT)
@rugby365com: Sharks by 12 points
Sharks: 15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (captain), 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Vincent Tshituka, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 James Venter, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Nevaldo Fleurs, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Will Hickey, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhys Henry.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Jack Regan, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Luke Scully, 23 Cai Evans.
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Edinburgh v Munster
(Edinburgh Stadium, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Munster by three points
Edinburgh: 15 Wes Goosen, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Villame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Jamie Ritchie (cc), 5 Grant Gilchrist (cc), 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Patrick Harrison, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Boan Venter, 18 WP Nel, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 James Lang.
Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 Jack O’Donoghue, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Patrick Campbell.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Scotland), Ross Ma bon (Scotland)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
* Additional reporting by @URCOfficial