URC Round 11 - Teams and Predictions
FRIDAY SHOWDOWN: The busy United Rugby Championship programme gets underway on Friday with two exciting fixtures.
Ulster host a Scarlets side playing just their second URC fixture since late October while the Dragons host Benetton.
Ulster returns to URC business on the back of victories against Northampton Saints and Clermont Auvergne in the Champions Cup.
Victory over the Scarlets would see them move second in the URC table behind Edinburgh and they will be looking to maintain a 100 percent home record against all opponents this season.
Scarlets are seeking a third successive URC win – something they have not achieved since 2019 – but they have not beaten an Irish team away from home in the league for 14 months.
Ulster has won the last four encounters against their Welsh opponents in all competitions, with Scarlets last tasting victory in Belfast six years ago.
However, this Friday could be a different story as Dwayne Peel takes the Scarlets to Ulster for the first time since he swapped Belfast for Llanelli ahead of the current campaign.
Peel took over as Scarlets head coach during the season having previously worked as an assistant with Ulster.
“It is an exciting prospect for me personally. I had four great years in Ulster,” Peel said.
“I was very fortunate to be there at a time where we had a lot of young players come through, the likes of Michael Lowry, Stewart Moore and Nick Timoney, and they have really kicked on.
“It is going to be a big challenge for us but one I am looking forward to.”
Commenting on Peel’s return, Ulster coach Dan McFarland said: “We had three great years. I really enjoyed working with Peely. He was a great support to me all through the time he was here.
“He has a real passion for the game, for where he comes from and for the club that he is coaching now.
“That’s something I really recognise, that kind of attachment. He’s a great attack coach, so we’ll be expecting fireworks when they come over.”
#⃣SPOTLIGHT: The success of the Irish province in the @ChampionsCup has again highlighted the enormity of the challenge face by #SouthAfrican teams in the @URCOfficial #Rugby 🏉#RugbyUnion🌐
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 26, 2022
Meanwhile, the Dragons will go in pursuit of just a second URC victory of the season when they host mid-table Benetton.
The teams met only a fortnight ago in the EPCR Challenge Cup, when Benetton triumphed 23-9 on home soil, while the Dragons have not won at Rodney Parade since last season’s Rainbow Cup.
Benetton lead 12-8 on the overall head-to-head and they will arrive in Wales seeking a third triumph from their last four URC fixtures.
The Dragons claimed a win in the teams’ last URC meeting 14 months ago but that was their first victory over the Italians since January 2017.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 26, 2022
Friday, January 28
Ulster v Scarlets
(Kingspan Stadium, Belfast – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Ulster by eight points
Ulster: 15 Ethan McIlroy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Ben Moxham, 12 Angus Curtis, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 Greg Jones, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 Brad Roberts, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 David McCann, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Aaron Sexton
Scarlets: 15 Ioan Nicholas, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 7 Shaun Evans, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Morgan Jones, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Daf Hughes (c), 1 Steff Thomas
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Steff Evans
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Peter Marin & Andrew Cole
TMO: Olly Hodges
Dragons v Benetton
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT; 20.35 Italy time)
@rugby365com: Dragons by five points
Dragons: 15 Josh Lewis, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Ross Moriarty (c), 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Harri Keddie, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Jared Rosser, 23 Ioan Davies
Benetton: 15 Giacomo Da Re, 14 Lorenzo Pani, 13 Filippo Drago, 12 Joaquin Riera, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (c), 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Marco Lazzaroni, 6 Matteo Meggiato, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Nahuel Tetaz, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Nicola Piantella, 20 Braam Steyn, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Marco Zanon, 23 Tommy Bell
Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant referees: Jason Bessant & John Darcy
TMO: Jon Mason
Additional source: @URCofficial