URC Round 10 - Teams and Predictions
SPOTLIGHT: Munster will be feeling the pressure after their shock loss to Connacht last weekend as they host Ulster in a mouth-watering Irish derby in the pick of this weekend’s United Rugby Championship fixtures.
After being stranded in South Africa and having to undergo 20 days of quarantine – 10 in South Africa and 10 back in Ireland – the Irish team were lacklustre and without several stars as they went down to Connacht.
The defeat prompted a slightly overboard reaction from former Irish captain Keith Wood.
Wood called for Van Graan to be sacked and said he was “ruining players”, despite the fact that Munster are sitting well-placed in the European Champions Cup and are in a good position in the URC.
Van Graan has also won 78 percent of his matches while in charge of the clubs, which makes Woods’ comments all the more interesting.
“There’s no point in talking about Munster’s attack, that doesn’t exist at the present moment in time,” Wood said on the Off the Ball podcast.
“I think we’re beginning to ruin some of the players. I’m finding it incredibly hard to watch.”
“I know we mentioned the disruption in the coaches, well I’d rather the coaches went if that was the case, than stay and play that level of turgid nonsense.”
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 7, 2022
Still, with another big derby on the horizon and Ulster playing well, the pressure will be telling.
Munster are nine points behind leaders Leinster, albeit with a game in hand, after suffering a second URC loss of the season when going down at Connacht on New Year’s Day.
But the Munstermen have won five successive matches at this venue since losing to Connacht in the Rainbow Cup in May.
Ulster have won 17 and drawn two of their 39 meetings with Munster and both of their defeats in any competition this season came on their travels.The home side have won the last six encounters between these teams but Dan McFarland’s men have not prevailed in Limerick since a 19-17 success in May 2014.
Ulster, meanwhile, are keeping their cards close to their chest that COVID doesn’t disrupt the game, as it did with their derbies against Connacht and Leinster, both which were called off after a number of players tested positive.
The virus forced the postponement of the fixture between Scarlets and Dragons, which will be rescheduled at a later date.
Still, there are also two other big games on the weekend.
Edinburgh will be looking to continue their good form when they visit Cardiff on Saturday.
Edinburgh’s only loss in any competition this season came via a last-gasp Leonardo Marin drop goal in a 28-27 defeat at Benetton in Round 2 of the URC.
The Scottish outfit are also yet to taste defeat at their new stadium with the last three meetings between the sides all being won by the home team. Cardiff have won three of their five URC matches this term but have not prevailed away from home since a 29-28 win over Scarlets in Llanelli in May’s Rainbow Cup clash.
The Welsh club have triumphed in 20 of their 34 encounters against Edinburgh but their sole success in their last six visits to Scotland came at Murrayfield in February 2019.
Glasgow look to be a good bet against struggling Ospreys in the other game on the weekend.
Glasgow Warriors have won four of their last six URC matches and can jump above the Ospreys into fourth with another victory.
The Warriors have been beaten just once by a Welsh opponent since October 2019, losing by just a point to the Dragons at this venue in December 2020. Ospreys don’t enjoy travelling to Scotland having tasted victory just once since March 2017 – against Edinburgh in October 2020 – while their sole win in eight visits to Scotstoun came in November 2016.
The Welsh side have been victorious in any competition just once since October and have won only one of their previous five meetings with Glasgow.
Saturday, January 8
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues
(The Dam Health Stadium, Kick-off: 17.00; 17.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Edinburgh by five points
Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Glen Young, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Chris Dean.
Cardiff: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James Botham, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 James Ratti, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Aled Summerhill.
Referee: Frank Murphy
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson & Ian Kenny
TMO: Neil Paterson
Glasgow Warriors v Ospreys
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 19.15; 19.15 GMT)
@rugby365com: Glasgow by seven points
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Cole Forbes, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Ali Price (captain), 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Kiran McDonald, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Thomas Gordon 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Walter Fifita.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Adam Beard (captain), 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Joe Hawkins.
Referee: Chris Busby
Assistant referees: Ben Blain & Graeme Ormiston
TMO: Sam Grove-White
Munster v Ulster
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off: 21.35; 21.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Munster by three points
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Seán French, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Thomas Ahern, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 John Ryan, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Shane Daly.
Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Ben Moxham, 12 James Hume, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Greg Jones, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Marcus Rea, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Rob Lyttle.
Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock & Dermot Blake
TMO: Brian MacNeice