URC, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions
SATURDAY & SUNDAY PREVIEW: The United Rugby Championship tournament is reaching the business end as teams are eager to secure home play-off spots.
Fresh from advancing to the Champions Cup Round of 16, the Sharks face a moment of truth.
They head to Edinburgh in an uncomfortable ninth spot – just outside play-off qualification at the moment.
There is also a growing consensus that the Sharks with their Springboks are a significantly stronger unit than the side that plays when they aren’t there.
And this week, some of those Springboks are rested, leaving the onus on the players who have recently blown hot and cold to navigate their way through Scottish waters.
Hyron Andrews will get a start in the second row in the absence of Eben Etzebeth, while the Venter duo of James and Henco come in for Siya Kolisi and Vincent Tshituka.
There are two backline changes with Grant Williams coming in Jaden Hendrikse at scrumhalf and Francois Venter taking over from Lukhanyo Am where he partners Ben Tapuai.
#TeamAnnouncement: The Sharks still look powerful despite giving a few players a break 👇#URC #Edinburgh #Sharks #EDIvSHA https://t.co/kxcKJRvOpq
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 27, 2023
“It is an opportunity for the guys to show what they are capable of,” Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell said.
“Think the last time they played was during the Connacht game which was obviously in horrible conditions and not a great outcome.
“But this is another opportunity for them. We didn’t get the results we were hoping for against Harlequins [a 29-39 defeat in the Champions Cup] but the guys are really keen to go out there and rectify the mistakes.”
Aside from wanting to prove themselves the Sharks will also face challenging European weather conditions and the 4G synthetic pitch of Edinburgh Rugby Stadium.
“The artificial pitch is really something to get used to.,” Powell said, adding: “We did as much training as we could on the pitch just to understand what we will get over the weekend.
“So, hopefully the preparation has gone well.”
Edinburgh’s big win over Saracens has given them a boost and they are sure to remind the Sharks how they scored the first overseas win in South Africa when Blair Kinghorn guided them to victory in Durban last year.
“They [Edinburgh] have shown what they are capable of against Saracens on Sunday,” Powell said, adding: “They were really physical and we are hopefully prepared for that battle.
“And hopefully the forwards that we have can stand up to them.”
#TeamAnnouncement: Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen has tweaked his starting XV for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship Round 13 clash against Connacht. 👇#URC #Lions #Connacht #CONvLIO https://t.co/IlxWo2l2O5
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 27, 2023
‘Back to winning ways’
The Lions will be looking to back up their Challenge Cup win in Wales with the unenviable task of travelling to Galway’s Sportsground to try and become the first South African team to win there.
For some reason, Connacht have been more than tough opposition for South African teams, and the Lions, now lying one spot below Connacht in 12th spot, will want to end a four-week high tour before returning to the Highveld for their final assault on a play-off spot.
Speaking to reporters, Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe said the mood inside the camp is really good after breaking the losing streak with a win over Dragons in the Challenge Cup.
“We really needed that win,” Van Der Merwe said.
“For us, it is great to get back to winning ways. We were on a four-game losing streak, so we knew that we really needed to turn this tour around.
“We really want to make memories and our focus now shifts to the URC and we have to get a win on Saturday.”
He added: “The mood in the camp is great, especially after the win. A win always lifts everyone’s spirits.
“As a group we have been spending some time on and off the field, getting to know each other.
“A four-week tour is a bit long and sometimes you can get a bit moody, but we are really enjoying each other’s company.”
Elsewhere there are spicy clashes between Benetton and Munster, while Cardiff will be looking for a chance to try and stop the Leinster juggernaut from recording their 17th straight – and 13th in the URC – win this season.
The Dragons host the Glasgow Warriors.
On Sunday there is one fixture, as struggling Italian side Zebre face Ospreys.
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SATURDAY, JANUARY 28
Benetton v Munster
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 15.30; 14.30 GMT; 14.30 Ireland & UK time)
@rugby365com: Munster by sevens points.
Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Filippo Drago, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Alessandro Izekor, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Riccardo Favretto, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Nahuel Tetaz
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, 17 Thomas Gallo, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Nicola Piantella, 20 Carl Wegner, 21 Braam Steyn, 22 Manfredi Albanese, 23 Marcus Watson
Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Liam Coombes, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Paddy Patterson, 8 Alex Kendellen, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Jack O’Sullivan, 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Roman Salanoa, 2 Niall Scannell (captain), 1 Josh Wycherley
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Mark Donnelly, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Cian Hurley, 20 Ruadhan Quinn, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Rory Scannell
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy) , Franco Rosella (Italy)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Dragons v Glasgow Warriors
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by five points.
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Taine Basham, 7 Sean Lonsdale, 6 George Nott, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Brodie Coghlan, 1 Rhodri Jones
Replacements: 16 James Benjamin, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Ben Fry, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Steff Hughes
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Stafford McDowall (captain), 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Cole Forbes, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Sione Vailanu, 6 Thomas Gordon, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Lewis Bean, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Alex Samuel, 20 Euan Ferrie, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Jamie Dobie, 23 Tom Jordan
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dewi Phillips (Wales), Elliot Mayor (Wales)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Leinster v Cardiff
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off 17.05; 17.05 GMT)
@rugby365com: Leinster by 10 points.
Leinster: 15 Chris Cosgrave, 14 Max O’Reilly, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Ben Brownlee, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 Brian Deeny, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 John McKee, 1 Michael Milne
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Marcus Hanan, 18 Thomas Clarkson, 19 James Culhane, 20 Will Connors, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Charlie Tector, 23 Aitzol King
Cardiff: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Aled Summerhill, 23 Matthew Morgan
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa, 13th league game)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ireland) , Andrew Fogarty (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Edinburgh Rugby v Sharks
(Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, Edinburgh – Kick-off 17.15; 17.15 GMT; 19.15 SA time)
@rugby365com: Edinburgh by three points.
Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Mark Bennett (captain), 12 James Lang, 11 Jack Blain, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Glen Young, 4 Marshall Sykes, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Adam McBurney, 1 Boan Venter
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cammy Hutchison
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Yaw Penxe
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonny Perriam (Scotland), Ru Campbell (Scotland)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (Italy)
Connacht v Lions
(The Sportsground, Galway – Kick-off 19.35; 19.35 GMT; 21.35 SA time)
@rugby365com: Connacht by five points.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Diarmuid Kilgallen, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 John Porch, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Niall Murray, 4 Darragh Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Oran McNulty
Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 André Warner, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Emile van Heerden, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Darrian Landsberg, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Andries Coetzee
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Padraic Reidy (Ireland),Stuart Douglas (Ireland)
TMO: Brendan Pickerill (New Zealand)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29
Zebre v Ospreys
(Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 16.00; 15.00 GMT; 15.00 Ireland & UK time)
@rugby365com: Ospreys by 10 points.
Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Franco Smith Jr, 12 Tommaso Boni (captain), 11 Jacopo Trulla, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Josh Furno, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Giampietro Ribaldi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Alessio Sanavia, 18 Riccardo Genovese, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Ratko Jelic, 22 Damiano Mazza, 23 Geronimo Prisciantelli
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Harri Deaves, 6 Jack Regan, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Nicky Smith (captain)
Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 James Fender, 20 Tristan Davies, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Iestyn Hopkins
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Clara Munarini (Italy) , Riccardo Angelucci (Italy)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
*Additional Source: @URCOfficial