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URC, Round 10 - Teams and Predictions

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY PREVIEW: The South African derbies will grab most of the attention this weekend as the United Rugby Championship gets underway again with Round 10.

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The Lions will welcome the Bulls to Ellis Park in the first derby on Saturday before the Sharks come up against the Stormers in Durban.

The race to secure a top-eight spot in the overall standings will heat up, but there is also the battle for Shield positions.

It’s worth a reminder for fans that the Shield winners will be based on matches in derbies – i.e. results from matches against teams in that specific Shield grouping.

As it currently stands the Stormers lead the way in the South African group with 13 points from their three games.

However, in the overall standings, the Bulls are the top-ranked team from South Africa in fourth position.

In Johannesburg, the Lions will enter their Gauteng Derby against the Bulls determined to make up for their heart-breaking 28-30 defeat in their last encounter in Pretoria, and to alleviate the pressure on themselves to hop into the top eight, especially since every match will count now for play-off places.

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The Joburg-based team is currently in 10th place on the log with 24 points, trailing the ninth-placed Connacht only by points difference.

The Lions will also want to take full advantage of their home-ground advantage and return to the form that earned them three victories in a row before succumbing to their Gauteng rivals in their last outing.

Two of those three victories were at home – against Zebre Parma and the Dragons respectively – while the other win was away against the Sharks in Durban.

Reflecting on his side’s marginal loss in Pretoria nearly three weeks ago, scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys believes there has been enough time to fix elements of their game ahead of the return leg on Saturday.

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“There were lots of learnings from the last time we played them at Loftus,” he said.

“We were obviously disappointed coming out of that game but the great thing since then is that we have had three weeks to prepare which gave us time to fix a few things on our part.

“Hopefully, we’ll see the results of those fixes come Saturday.”

Redelinghuys went on to say that although the performance against their Pretoria neighbours was admirable last time around, the players felt more could be done to step things up ahead of Saturday’s crunch game.

“The players themselves drive really high standards and the best thing from a coach’s perspective is that it all comes from them. So, even though we’ve had good performances, they still know that there are areas where they can improve- and that’s what they keep chasing, ” he concluded.

The preview continues below…

Meanwhile, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said the last outing between the two teams in Pretoria was proof of how much the Lions have grown under head coach Ivan van Rooyen.

“We must give ‘Cash’ [Ivan van Rooyen] some credit, he has done well with the conditioning of his team, they really get back up well,” said White.

“They are very good at understanding counterattacks because they do it so well. Their wings are also good at closing their outside so well and so we will have to find a new way of getting through them”

“One thing about them is that they are very good.”

White believes his team is playing for more than just solidifying their chances of play-offs.

“We are going to have to play well, almost our best rugby. Like it’s Test rugby.

“The next two weekends are like trial runs for the big knockout games that are coming,

“We have made one or two tweaks with our changes, not for any other reason but to continue learning who can play with whom because we are never going to have the same 23.”

The preview continues below…

The derby between the Sharks and Stormers in Durban also has all the ingredients for a mouth-watering clash after the Capetonians snuck through by a single point at home in their last match – this despite the KwaZulu-Natalians being at the foot of the log with nine points in as many matches.

The Sharks’ success in the EPCR Challenge Cup up to now, where they topped their pool to host Zebre Parma in their Round of 16 match after three wins in four matches, will also boost their confidence.

They will be wary of the pressure on the Capetonians who are in seventh place on the URC standings – with their place in the top eight being by only two points, although they will take comfort that they are only eight points behind Leinster – meaning a victory could nudge them into a more comfortable position among the front-runners.

“We haven’t found that real consistency to how we want to perform, although there have been periods where we’ve played some of our best rugby,” said Sharks head coach John Plumtree.

“When we played the Stormers down in Cape Town, it was a gutsy performance built around pressure and good defences, and we really stood up in that department.

“We have to be strong up front, whether it’s at scrum time or mauls, we know we have a strong pack but I haven’t yet been able to put that pack out onto the park because of injuries to key players which has been probably my biggest frustration.”

The preview continues below…

URC play-off probabllity 2024

Meanwhile, Stormers head coach John Dobson has made several changes to his team as a few World Cup winners are unavailable due to rest protocols and an injury to centre Dan du Plessis.

It means they will field a young combination in the centres in the form of Suleiman Hartzenberg and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, while Jurie Matthee gets the No.10 jersey.

“We are very excited about it. Unfortunately, Dan du Plessis had a small injury on Tuesday, so it would have looked a little bit different,” said Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman.

“Sacha plays most of his rugby for us at inside centre and Jurie has gone nicely at flyhalf for us with the chances he had.

“I am quite excited for those guys to show what they can do and what Suleiman [Hartzenberg] can do in that No.13 channel.”

Stormers captain Neethling Fouche is confident that those youngsters will produce the goods at Kings Park.

“They are very promising players,” he said. “They are still quite young but it feels like they have been in the system for quite a while.

“I think they understand what is expected of them.”

*Rounds 10 and 11 of the inter-hemisphere showpiece will be dedicated to unearthing, showcasing, and celebrating the diverse backgrounds and locations of the URC playing group, with the players set to wear their school or club socks, while fans attending the games are also encouraged to wear their school or club jerseys or socks.

See below for Saturday and Sunday’s teams and predictions!

Saturday, February 17:

Lions v Bulls
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Bulls by four points

Teams:

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Henco van Wyk 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Hanru Sirgel, 5 Reinhardt Nothnagel, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Izan Esterhuizen, 21 JC Pretorius, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Erich Cronje.

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Canan Moodie, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Reinhardt Ludwig, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Akker van der Merwe, 18. Francois Kloppers, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Marcell Coetzee, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Johan Goosen, 23. Mpilo Gumede.

Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby (South Africa), Dylan November (South Africa)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

Leinster v Benetton
(RDS Arena, Dublin – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT; 16.00 CET)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Leinster by 13 points.

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Henry McErlean, 14 Tommy O’Brien, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Jamie Osborne, 11 Rob Russell, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny (captain), 6 Will Connors, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Lee Barron, 1 Jack Boyle.
Replacements: 16 John McKee, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Brian Deeny, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Ben Murphy, 22 Sam Prendergast, 23 Ben Brownlee.

Benetton: 15 Jacob Umaga, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Toa Halafihi, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Eli Snyman (captain), 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Alessandro Izekor, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Filippo Drago.

Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Tomas O’Sullivan (Ireland)
TMO: Colin Brett (Scotland)

Sharks v Stormers
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Stormers by five points.

Teams:

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Vincent Tshituka, 21 Bradley Davids, 22 Siya Masuku, 23 Aphiwe Dyantyi.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jurie Matthee, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Evan Roos, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Wandisile Simelane, 23 Angelo Davids.

Referee: Morne Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Ben Crouse (South Africa)

Cardiff v Connacht
(Arms Park, Cardiff – Kick-off: 17.15, 17.15 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Connacht by seven points.

Teams:

Cardiff: 15 Jacob Beetham, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 3 Will Davies-King, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Efan Daniel, 17 Rhys Barratt, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Alun Lawrence, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Jamie Hill, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Willis Halaholo.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Shayne Bolton, 13 David Hawkshaw, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Andrew Smith, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Caolin Blade (captain), 8 Cian Prendergast, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Oisín Dowling, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Tom Farrell.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Glasgow Warriors v Dragons
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by 15 points.

Teams:

Glasgow: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Facundo Cordero, 13 Stafford McDowall (captain), 12 Tom Jordan, 11 Jamie Dobie, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Ben Afshar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Euan Ferrie, 5 Alex Samuel, 4 Max Williamson, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Angus Fraser, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Ruaraidh Hart, 20 Sintu Manjezi, 21 Gregor Hiddleston, 22 Sean Kennedy, 23 Duncan Weir.

Dragons: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Oli Andrew, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Dan Lydiate, 7 George Young, 6 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 James Benjamin, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Brodie Coghlan, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Luke Yendle, 19 Barny Langton-Cryer, 20 Sam Scarfe, 21 Che Hope, 22 Will Reed, 23 Joe Westwood.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Jonny Perriam (Scotland), Michael Todd (Scotland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Sunday, February 18:

Ospreys v Ulster
(Swansea Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Ulster by nine points.

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Jack Walsh, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Dan Edwards, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morse, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Harri Deaves, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 James Ratti, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Lewis Lloyd, 17 Rhys Henry, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Lewis Jones, 20 Will Hickey, 21 Cameron Jones, 22 Alex Cuthbert, 23 Evardi Boshoff.

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Mike Lowry, 13 James Hume, 12 Jude Postlethwaite, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jake Flannery, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 David McCann, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Harry Sheridan 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Matty Rea, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Ethan McIlroy.

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Maickel English (Wales), Carwyn Williams (Wales)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

Additional source: SA Rugby

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