URC Round Three - teams and predictions
FRIDAY PREVIEW: Irish province Connacht won’t have the infamous Galway Gale as an ally. They will certainly have to be content with the Pretoria passion on Friday.
Having to deal with the warm weather and rarified Highveld air, the tourists will look to avoid a third consecutive loss when they face the high-flying Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said the word ‘revenge’ did not feature in the Bulls’ vocabulary this week.
However, they took some lessons from last year’s drubbing and will apply that to Friday’s outing.
“They have a very good side that plays a style that is very difficult to contain,” White said about Friday’s visitors.
The Bulls boss pointed out that against the Stormers last week Connacht was in the game for the first hour, before a Bundee Aki red card upset the balance – resulting in a 38-15 win for the South African outfit..
He added that in Round One, against Ulster, Connacht was also in the game for the first 50 minutes – before three later tries resulted in a 36-10 scoreline.
“We will have to play well,” White said, adding: “They beat us by the biggest margin [34-7] last year.”
White is also looking forward to the return of a number of Springboks, especially in the backline – where the likes of Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Sibusiso Nkosi have been named in the starting XV.
“It’s always nice having Springboks come back, especially when they are looking as good as Canan and Kurt-Lee,” he added.
“Sbu [Nkosi] didn’t get a run for the Boks, but his confidence will still be high having been part of the group.
“I have no doubt that he is raring to go, and this is his chance.”
Connacht Director Of Rugby Andy Friend admitted their opening rounds – the losses to Ulster and the Stormers – were “disappointing” and below their own expectations.
“However, the mood within the team remains positive,” Friend said.
“Everyone has been working really hard to iron out some the issues that have hindered us in the opening rounds, and we’re excited about the opportunity that the Bulls present.
“All five players who joined us post the Stormers match have proven to be great additions for us, especially our team captain Jack Carty.
“It’s been fantastic to have him back training with us for the first time this season, and he’s on target for selection in the not too distant future.”
(Continue below …)
* Meanwhile Cardiff will look to put last week’s disappointing performance, a 24-52 loss to Glasgow, behind them when they host a resurgent Lions outfit at Arms Park.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to the Arms Park,” Cardiff Rugby Director Of Rugby Dai Young said.
“We didn’t build on the Munster game last week so hopefully we can bounce back at home against a very good Lions team.
“It’s going to be a real good game with lots of rugby to be played by both teams. It should be a lot of entertainment for the people that come to watch.
“We love playing at the Arms Park and want to give our home crowd the kind of performance they deserve. We have made a few changes due to injury but we have still have a strong squad and if we can get back to the kind of performance we saw against Munster and build on that, there is no reason why we can’t get the result we want.”
The Lions, after an opening round loss to the Bulls at Ellis Park, hit the road running and beat the Ospreys in Swansea.
However, they are expecting the bar to be raised considerably this week.
“The Welsh sides pride themselves with big forward packs coupled with backline players who enjoy throwing the ball around,” Lions defence coach Jaque Fourie said.
“Cardiff will be no different this Friday, as I’m sure they will come with a heavy pack and nippy backline players who can take the ball wide.
“In saying that, we have done our homework on them and prepared well in the week.”
All the FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, teams and predictions follow below …
Bulls v Connacht
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 18.30; 17.30 Ireland & UK time; 16.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: Bulls by 15 points
Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Izak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Marcel Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp..
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Reinhardt Ludwig, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Lionel Mapoe.
Connacht: 15 Oran McNulty, 14 John Porch, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 David Hawkshaw, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Oisín Dowling, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Byron Ralston, 23 Ciarán Booth.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)
Cardiff v Lions
(Arms Park, Cardiff – Kick-off: 19.35; 20.35 SA time; 18.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Cardiff by seven points
Cardiff: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Mason Grady, 23 Uilisi Halaholo.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Zander du Plessis.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Carwyn Williams (Wales)
TMO: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Ulster v Leinster
(Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast – Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Leinster by five points
Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Aaron Sexton, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Greg Jones, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Ben Moxham..
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose (captain), 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Vakhtang Abdaladze, 19 James Ryan, 20 Will Connors, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Charlie Ngatai.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Andrew Cole (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
* Additional reporting by @URCOfficial