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URC Round 12 - Teams and Predictions

FRIDAY PREVIEW: The United Rugby Championship returns this weekend and with just seven rounds to go the battle for playoffs are reaching its boiling point.

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There are two fixtures on Friday. Franco Smith’s Glasgow Warriors will kick off proceedings with a tough home fixture against Cardiff, while Munster travel to Swansea Stadium to face Ospreys in the other game.

Smith, whose side is third with the same log points (40) as the second-placed Bulls, did not hesitate to rush back a host of international players for the showdown.

Eight of the Warriors involved in the Scotland set-up across the Six Nations return to club action tomorrow night, in a matchday 23 that also sees  Duncan Munn in line to make his professional debut for his boyhood club.

Kyle Steyn returns to captain the side in the only alteration to the back three with the Scotland wing Sebastian Cancelliere and Josh McKay.

An unchanged front row sees Nathan McBeth and Lucio Sordoni line up either side of Johnny Matthews.

The hooker extended his try-scoring lead over the rest of the URC by notching his 11th of the campaign in Treviso last time out.

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Alex Samuel and Max Williamson combine once more in the second row, having both contributed in both attack and defence during the win over Benetton.

Euan Ferrie starts on the blindside,  joining Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey in the back row after their exploits during the Six Nations.

Behind the scrum, Jamie Dobie and Duncan Weir combine in the halfbacks, the former starting his third match in succession in the URC.

Tom Jordan and Stafford McDowall are paired in the centres, both players having crossed the whitewash in Treviso in the club’s last outing.

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With Welsh rugby at a low ebb at the moment, the Warriors head into the fixtures as favourites.

However,  Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith won’t underestimate Cardiff.

“We know that we will need to be at our best tomorrow night,” Smith said.

“Cardiff will pose a strong challenge, with a powerful pack of forwards and some high-quality backs that will test us around the park.”

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt admitted the encounter will be a challenge but sees it as the perfect chance to test themselves against Smith’s inform team.

“They [Cardiff] are one of the form teams in the competition.

“Franco Smith has done a good job there and you can see his traits in the team,” Sherratt said.

“They attack the short sides, they are good on the counter-attack, have some innovative strike plays and all of that is combined with one of the best defences in the URC.

“So like I’ve said, it is a big challenge and we must show the same kind of character and fight that we have shown at home. We have a period of games on the road now and it is a good opportunity to test ourselves with a number of players continuing to return to availability.”

Meanwhile, Munster made three changes to the side that beat Zebre last time out.

Joey Carbery and Rory Scannell come into the backline and John Hodnett starts in the pack.

It will be a proud day for Mike Haley as he makes his 100th appearance and 100th start for Munster at fullback.

Springbok RG Snyman partners with Tom Ahern in the second row, while John Hodnett returns from injury to start alongside Kendellen and Gavin Coombes in the back row.

Sitting in the sixth spot they will want a top-four finish to get a home initial playoff and higher if they want to make their path easier. The Irish giants are likely to target this game for a full house of points.

For Ospreys, Owen Watkin is named in the match-day squad following his Six Nations campaign with Wales.

Unfortunately, George North is among the international players to miss out, with the centre rupturing his Achilles on his final Test.

He has likely played his final game for the region with the Welsh legend signing for French outfit Provence ahead of the 2024/25 season.

Commenting on the match, Ospreys head coach Toby Booth said: “Our home form has been good this season, continuing that is important in order for us to establish ourselves as competitors [for the top eight].

“Munster, as always, will provide a tough opposition so it’s important we start well and impose ourselves on the game as soon as we can.”

Friday’s teams and predictions are below ...

FRIDAY, MARCH 22:

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

Prediction

@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by eight points

Teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Stafford McDowall, 12 Tom Jordan, 11 Kyle Steyn (captain), 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Jamie Dobie, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Matt Fagerson, 6 Euan Ferrie, 5 Alex Samuel, 4 Max Williamson, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Nathan McBeth
Replacements: 16 Gregor Hiddleston, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Ally Miller, 21 Henco Venter, 22 George Horne, 23 Duncan Munn

Cardiff: 15 Jacob Beetham, 14 Mason Grady, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Mackenzie Martin, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Teddy Williams, 4 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 3 Will Davies-King, 2 Liam Belcher (captain), 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Efan Daniel, 17 Rhys Barratt, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Owen Lane

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Sam O’Neil (Scotland)
TMO: Colin Stanley (Ireland)

Ospreys v Munster
(Swansea Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by five points

Ospreys: 15 Iestyn Hopkins, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 James Ratti, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Lewis Lloyd, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 Huw Sutton, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Cameron Jones, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Owen Watkin

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Sean O’Brien, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Alex Kendellen (captain), 6 John Hodnett, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Tom Ahern, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Josh Wycherley
Replacements: 16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Jack O’Donoghue, 20 Ruadhan Quinn, 21 Ethan Coughlan, 22 Tony Butler, 23 Shay McCarthy

Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Rhys Jones (Wales), Carwyn Williams (Wales)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

Source: @URCOfficial

 

 

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