URC Round Two - teams and predictions
FRIDAY PREVIEW: The Sharks, hoping to make amends for their disappointing quarterfinal exit in the inaugural season, are wary of a potential ‘banana peel’ in Parma on Friday.
After ending last season with only one win to their name, the Italian outfit Zebre changed up the coaching panel – with former Italian international Fabio Roselli moving from an assistant’s role into the position of head coach.
To further complicate matters for the visitors is the presence of David Williams among the Zebre backroom staff – a man who had stints with the Cheetahs and Sharks in South Africa, before stopping off at Bath.
It will make for an intriguing encounter with the Springbok-laden visitors in this Round Two encounter.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt acknowledged the threat posed by a team that ran Leinster close, going down just 29-33 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
“You could see against Leinster, they are an attack-minded team,” Everitt told @rugby365com.
“We know David Williams quite well from his stint at the Sharks.
“They are playing an exciting brand and performed very well against Leinster. They looked a different team to what they were last year.”
The Sharks coach said they are looking to ‘make amends’ for their poor start last year – when they won only one out of four on tour.
After the Zebre outing, the Sharks travel to Wales to face the Dragons and then on to Ireland for a showdown with Leinster.
“All the South African teams struggled in the beginning [last year], but we’re coming in with a bit more experience,” Everitt said, adding: “We know what’s coming our way as far as the opposition is concerned.
“It’s not like last year when we were going into the unknown.
“Zebre will be a tough nut to crack at home.
“They put on a good performance against Leinster last weekend and I don’t think anyone would have believed the game would be so close. They were pretty unfortunate not to get the result.
“We’re under no illusions as to what we’re facing on Friday and we know this competition is unforgiving as some of the teams found out in the first weekend’s action.”
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The Zebre coach, Roselli, said they see the match against the Sharks as another good opportunity to tell something about Zebre’s ambitions.
“The biggest challenge will be in terms of collision, scrum and drive,” he said of a Sharks pack that includes Springboks Thomas du Toit (as captain) and Ntuthuko Mchunu in the front row.
“We should not concede penalties as we did at the start of the game last week against Leinster.
“It’s a good challenge but as usual we are looking forward to it.”
* Meanwhile Springbok Franco Smith will look to make amends for last week’s disappointment when his Glasgow Warriors host Cardiff.
The Warriors took a serious beating (11-33) at the hands of Benetton in Treviso last week.
“It’s been almost six months since the squad have played in front of their home crowd and everyone has been fighting hard to earn the chance to run out at Scotstoun on Friday,” the South African and former coach of the Italian national team.
“Last weekend’s game was not how we wanted to start our season.
“However, it has given us valuable insight into what our players have taken away from pre-season and our new game plan.
“We have challenged the players to be brave this Friday, and begin writing our own story going forward.”
Cardiff Director Of Rugby Dai Young made a few changes, either due to injury or to look after players who are a bit battered and bruised, following the impressive 20-13 win over Munster.
“We haven’t done well away and that is something we have to put right quickly,” Young said.
“There were a lot of good things on the weekend, and if we can build on them then there’s no reason why we can’t be in with a chance of getting a result here.
“It’s Glasgow’s first home game in a while, under a new coach as well, but last week didn’t go to plan. So they’ll be desperate to get a performance in and get their season up and running.
“We know they’re a quality team, and listening to some of the talks after the game, they were more pleased with the second half than they were with the first.
“In the second half, they demonstrated that they’re a team who want to play rugby from all areas of the pitch, and that’s what we expect.
“We’re going to have to be on our toes defensively right across the pitch because they’ll look to attack from anywhere and really take us on.”
All the FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 teams and predictions are below …
Zebre v Sharks
(Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 18.30; 17.30 Ireland & UK time; 18.30 SA time)
@rugby365com: Sharks by nine points
Zebre: 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua, 7 MJ Pelser, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi (captain), 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Juan Pitinari, 18 Muhamed Hasa, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Gabriele Venditti, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Franco Smith Jr, 23 Jacopo Trulla.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Henry Chamberlain, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Thomas du Toit (captain), 2 Kerron van Vurren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Marnus Potgieter.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy), Dante D’elia (Italy)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)
Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 19.35 Ireland & UK time; 20.35 Italian & SA time)
@rugby365com: Glasgow by 11 points
Glasgow: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Kyle Steyn (captain), 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 20 Sintu Manjezi, 21 Thomas Gordon, 22 Ali Price, 23 Domingo Miotti.
Cardiff: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Botham, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Josh Turnbull (captain), 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Uilisi Halaholo.
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown (Scotland), Ru Campbell (Scotland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Leinster v Benetton
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off: 19.35 Ireland & UK time; 20.35 Italian & SA time)
@rugby365com: Leinster by 22 points
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose (captain), 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ciarán Frawley, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 James Ryan, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Will Connors, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Charlie Ngatai.
Benetton: 15 Ignacio Mendy, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Giacomo Da Re, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Ivan Nemer.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henry Time-Stowers, 21 Manfredi Albanese, 22 Tommaso Menoncello, 23 Ratuva Tavuyara.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock (Ireland), Andrew Fogarty (Ireland)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)
* Additional reporting by @URCOfficial