URC Round Three - Teams and Predictions
SATURDAY PREVIEW: Sharks head coach Sean Everitt knows that his team will be up against a different Dragons side on Saturday to the one they faced in Durban in April last season.
Earlier this year the Sharks eased to a 51-3 victory over the Welsh side at Kings Park, but life will be harder for the Everitt’s side at Rodney Parade in Newport.
The Dragons pulled off one of the first big upsets of the season when they beat Munster 23-17 last weekend and they will be looking to build on that momentum against the Sharks on Saturday.
“It is a different team,” said Everitt.
“We were fortunate enough to play Dragons at home [last season] and it was difficult for them in Durban at that time in the year.
“We are expecting a different challenge this time around in Newport.
“At home, they are an extremely difficult team to overcome.
“They are physical by nature. They pride themselves on their physicality and the collision, so we are going to have to be up for it physically to be able to get the result against them this weekend.”
The Sharks are coming off a thrilling 42-37 win over Zebra in Parma.
The KwaZulu-Natalians started brightly against the Italians in their second-round match but had to fight off a furious fightback from the Italian side to eventually win the clash.
Everitt knows that his side will have to show better concentration and defensive resolve if they want to slay the 11th-placed Dragons.
“The first half was probably the best 40 minutes we played for a long time.” said the Sharks coach.
“We are very happy with that and obviously we will take the positives from that.
“In the second half we allowed them to get momentum and they were dangerous out wide. We struggled with our width on defence and the quick ball that we gave them at the breakdown and at the same time we never stuck to our kicking plans.
“There are lessons learnt from that.
“We put ourselves under the pump more so than them putting us under the pump.
“Those are all fixables and the positive for me as well is that in the first half we didn’t feel pressure because we never gave away that many penalties – we only gave away three.
“In the second half when we were under the pump defensibly – we conceded seven, which didn’t help the cause.
“We’ve had a week to work on that. We had an eight-day turnaround and we are raring to go on Saturday.”
Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan said his team are bracing themselves for the physical challenge.
“The Sharks will be physical and there is a lot of quality in their side,” said Flanagan.
“We need to make sure we match the physicality they bring and stay true to ourselves.
“It was a big result and performance by us against Munster last time out.
“Now we must replicate it, match it and ensure we get better week by week.”
The preview continues below…
The last @TheStormers 🆚 @EdinburghRugby showdown was intense 😬#BKTURC #URC pic.twitter.com/KKdaRfZ5Mk
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) September 29, 2022
Stormers to spoil Edinburgh’s party?
Meanwhile, Edinburgh, rich in rugby tradition, has also proved to be rich in South African presence in the past few seasons, and the strong South African contingent will be at the forefront of their push to celebrate their 150th anniversary year with victory against the champion Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Stormers beat Edinburgh in last season’s URC quarterfinal at the Cape Town Stadium, and while revenge would be sweet, every victory would make for a sweeter 150th-year anniversary season.
Stormers coach John Dobson earlier in the week spoke of his respect for the quality of Edinburgh and the strength of a side he said was capable of beating any team in the league.
Dobson’s title winners drew 20-all in last season’s league match-up in Edinburgh and acknowledged the difficulty his team had in subduing the visitors in the play-offs.
“They are a very good side with a wonderful club history,” said the Stormers coach.
“South Africans have become more familiar with the club because of the South Africans playing for them in recent years and in WP Nel and Pierre Schoeman they have two bloody good props.
“They have quality across the board, and they will be a tough nut to crack.
“It is a very special year for them, celebrating 150 years, so there will be that additional motivation each time they play.
“They were a missed penalty away from a stunning victory against the Bulls in Pretoria a week ago and they played some fantastic rugby in the second half.
“That second half performance was a credit to their conditioning and the pride they have for the jersey.”
Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair is hoping his team can build on their narrow 31-33 loss to the Bulls last weekend.
“After a really physical match against Bulls, we’ve returned to Cape Town where we’ve had a great week of training, with the squad fully focused for another massive test against last season’s Champions,” said Blair.
“We obviously met the Stormers in Cape Town in last year’s quarterfinal so we know just how good they are – especially at home – but we’re playing with confidence and our squad will be fired up to improve on last weekend’s performance.
“It’s a huge challenge but one we’re relishing as we take on the URC Champions in their own backyard.”
Saturday’s other fixtures will see Ospreys welcome Glasgow Warriors, while Munster are at home against Zebre.
The Scarlets will travel to Treviso to face Benetton.
All of Saturday’s teams and predictions follow below …
Stormers v Edinburgh
(Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 Ireland & UK time; 12.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Stormers by seven points.
Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.
Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Damien Hoyland, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Nick Haining, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (co-captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist (co-captain), 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Glen Young, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Charlie Savala, 23 Chris Dean.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa) & Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Adam Jones (Wales)
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors
(Swansea Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 15.05, 14.05 GMT)
@rugby365com: Ospreys by five points.
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 George North, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Michael Collins, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Ethan Roots, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Rhys Henry, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Will Griffiths, 21 Reuben Morgan Williams, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Luke Morgan.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rufus McLean, 10 Tom Jordan, 9 Ali Price (captain), 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Gregor Brown, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Sintu Manjezi, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Sean Kennedy, 23 Domingo Miotti.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear (Wales) & Carwyn Williams (Wales)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland
Munster v Zebre Parma
(Musgrave Park, Cork – Kick-off: 17.05; 18.05 Italy time; 16.05 GMT)
@rugby365com: Munster by 13 points.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Conor Phillips, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Patrick Campbell, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack O’Sullivan, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Keynan Knox, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Scott Buckley, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Edwin Edogbo, 20 Ruadhan Quinn, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Rory Scannell.
Zebre Parma: 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin (captain), 11 Jacopo Trulla, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua, 7 MJ Pelser, 6 Davide Ruggeri, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 Gabriele Venditti, 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Giampietro Ribaldi, 1 Juan Pitinari
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Iacopo Bianchi, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Franco Smith Jr, 23 Lorenzo Pani.
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Peter Martin (Ireland) & Robbie Jenkinson (Ireland)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)
Benetton v Scarlets
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 18.15; 17.15 Ireland & UK; 16.15 GMT)
@rugby365com: Benetton by five points.
Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Joaquin Riera, 11 Ignacio Mendy, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Manuel Zuliani, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Scott Scrafton, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Ivan Nemer
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Marcus Watson, 23 Tommaso Menoncello.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Jonathan Davies (captain), 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Tom Price, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Shaun Evans, 1 Steff Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Johnny McNicholl.
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Filippo Russo (Italy) & Alberto Favaro (Italy)
TMO: Colin Stanley (Ireland)
Dragons v Sharks
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 19.35; 20.35 SA time; 18.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Sharks by three points.
Dragons: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 George Nott, 5 Will Rowlands (captain), 4 Ben Carter, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Max Clark, 23 Jordan Williams.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamerlain, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3Thomas du Toit (captain), 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marnus Potgieter, 23 Anthony Volmink.
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales) & Elwyn Morris Roberts (Wales)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
*Additional reporting: @URCOfficial