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URC, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions

SATURDAY PREVIEW: Steven Kitshoff’s return to Cape Town in the colours of Ulster has dominated the build-up to Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Stormers.

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The double World Cup winner is a Stormers legend and he was the team’s captain before he headed to Belfast.

Stormers fans will also have fond memories of the Bok prop lifting the inaugural URC title back in 2022 when John Dobson’s side beat the Bulls in the Final in Cape Town.

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“Steve is quite a professional guy, so I’m sure he is going to get on with his business,” said Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman.

“It’s great to have him back. We always welcome players back who played for the Stormers.

“They will always be part of our squad and part of our unit, so it will be a nice challenge to play against him.”

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Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat echoed Snyman’s comments.

“for a large group of us, Kitsie has been our captain, so it will be nice to have him back,” said Moerat.

“But he is a professional and we are professionals. We all know what is at stake tomorrow [Saturday], but it will be a great atmosphere and the crowd will welcome him for sure.”

Fans were looking forward to Kitshoff coming up against his old teammate Frans Malherbe on Saturday, but the latter will be playing off the bench with Neethling Fouche starting in the No.3 jersey.

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“It didn’t matter who we played on Saturday, it was always part of Frans’ return to play plan, said Snyman.

“Whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate, I am not sure.

“They’ve had a lot of scrum sessions against each other and they know each other quite well. It was just about how we could manage Frans from last week to this week and take him through to the La Rochelle match.”

The preview continues below…

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Meanwhile, the Sharks will also be hungry for a victory against Edinburgh after getting a taste of it last week against Ulster.

They will want to take full advantage of the fact that the Scots will play in vastly different conditions to what they are used to, and they will feel the pressure to remain in the top eight after suffering a defeat against the Stormers last week.

Edinburgh may boast a better attack, but the teams are not far off on defence, which is something the visitors will want to capitalise on.

Interestingly, both the Sharks’ victories this season were at home, while their biggest defeat on their home patch was by four points, which will motivate them immensely to come out on top this weekend.

However, Plumtree will also be using Saturday’s match as preparation for their Challenge Cup Round of 16 tie against Zebre next weekend.

“They [Edinburgh] are an excellent side, but we are possibly out of the URC and we are still alive in the Challenge Cup,” said Plumtree.

“We have set some goals for the rest of the season and we are excited because we got the team that we want.

“It’s the first time I’ve been able to pick a full-strength Sharks side and we are creating some competition.

“We know who we are playing this weekend, we know it’s going to be tough, but I really want to do well in this Challenge Cup and this game will help me prepare the team for that.

“We’ve made some changes for this week and you cannot have a successful team unless you have competition for places and part of my problem this year is that I didn’t have that.

“Now there are some selection issues for me and that is how we create some edge in our team because the players have to play well to keep their spots.”

The Lions will also have their sights set on a victory against Ospreys in Swansea after outplaying Connacht away last weekend, which saw them sneak into the top eight.

However, they will brace themselves for a hard-fought encounter as only four points separate the sides on the log, while they have both won six of their 12 matches.

The Johannesburgers’ attack, however, has set them apart, with the team scoring 346 points in their 12 matches – the third best in the tournament this season – while Ospreys have only scored 254, and they will certainly target this area as the eye their third win in a row.

With Ospreys boasting an impressive win record of five out of seven at home this season, this will serve as a big inspirational force to make up for their defeat against Munster last weekend.

“The big focus from our side is to put up another good performance,” said Lions assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher.

“It’s always tough away from home and it is always nice if you can get a win on tour.

“At the moment, there is a lekker vibe – there is a good energy in the squad.

“To do it [beat Connacht] with 14 men and to put up a performance like that is something we can take a lot of confidence from.”

See for Saturday’s teams and predictions!

Saturday, March 30:

Benetton v Connacht
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK & Ireland time; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Benetton by seven points.

Teams:

Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Eli Snyman (captain), 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Giosué Zilocchi, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Diarmuid Kilgallen, 13 David Hawkshaw, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Andrew Smith, 10 Jack Carty (captain) 9 Michael McDonald, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Jordan Duggan.
Replacements: 16 Eoin de Buitléar, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Darragh Murray, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Shane Jennings, 23 Shayne Bolton.

Referee: Morne Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy) and Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Sharks v Edinburgh
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 UK & Ireland time; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Sharks by six points.

Teams:

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 James Venter, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Corne Rahl, 20 Jeandre Labuschagne, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Ethan Hooker.

Edinburgh: 15 Wes Goosen, 14 Jake Henry, 13 Matt Currie, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ben Vellacott (captain), 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Cammy Scott, 23 James Lang.

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa) and Jonothan Lottering (South Africa)
TMO: Marc Patton (Ireland)

Ospreys v Lions
(Swansea Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 15.05; 15.05 GMT; 17.05 SA time)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Lions by three points.

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Jack Walsh, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 James Ratti, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Lewis Lloyd, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Huw Sutton, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Luke Davies, 22 Max Nagy, 23 Keiran Williams.

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

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Tom Spurrier (Wales) and Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Stormers v Ulster
(Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 19.15; 17.15 UK & Ireland time; 17.15 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Stormers by 10 points.

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Willie Engelbrecht, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Ben Loader.

Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Nathan Doak, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 David McCann, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Harry Sheridan, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Marcus Rea, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Stewart Moore.

Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa) and Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Colin Brett (Scotland )

Munster v Cardiff
(Thomond Park, Limerick – Kick-off 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by 22 points.

Teams:

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Seán O’Brien, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Tadhg Beirne (captain), 4 RG Snyman, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 John Ryan, 19 Tom Ahern, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Ethan Coughlan, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Simon Zebo.

Cardiff: 15 Cam Winnett, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Mackenzie Martin, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Alex Mann, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Ben Donnell, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Liam Belcher (captain), 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Carré, 17 Evan Lloyd, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Jacob Beetham, 23 Theo Cabango.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland) and Sam Holt (Ireland)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

Scarlets v Glasgow Warriors
(Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli – Kick-off: 19.35; 19.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Glasgow Warriors by five points.

Teams:

Scarlets: 15 Ioan Nicholas, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Eddie James, 11 Tomi Lewis, 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Teddy Leatherbarrow, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Alex Craig, 3 Sam Wainwright, 2 Ryan Elias (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ryan Conbeer.

Glasgow: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Stafford McDowall (captain), 12 Tom Jordan, 11 Sebastian Cancelliere, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 George Horne, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Ally Miller, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Max Williamson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Gregor Hiddleston, 1 Nathan McBeth.
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Gregor Brown, 21 Thomas Gordon, 22 Jamie Dobie, 23 Duncan Munn.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales) and John Darcy (Wales )
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)

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