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URC, Round 16 - Teams and Predictions

PREVIEW: The Stormers are aware that Chris Hollis might want to prove a point in Newport on Friday.

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Hollis will be making his Dragons debut against his former side after he was given the No.11 jersey for the United Rugby Championship Round 16 match.

The 25-year-old joined the Stormers in 2022 after stints with the Southern Kings, Griquas and the Lions. He arrived in Newport on a short-term contract last month and he gets an immediate chance to impress against the South African side he left.

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“He was in our system for three years and he is a great professional,” said Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman.

“He has trained and worked really hard. He played a few warm-up games and a few Currie Cup games, but unfortunately, with injuries, he didn’t play a lot of games for the Stormers.

“Hollis will bring a lot of physicality – he is a big boy and he is on the left wing tomorrow [Friday] against us. He also has some inside info on how we work and that can benefit him.

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“We expect him to have a crack. We all like Chris and we are good friends, but it’s usually in these types of games when you want to put in a good effort and show that you respect your opponents and do well against them.

Snyman added: “He used to play centre for the {Southern] Kings and we also looked at him as a centre within the squad.

“I would say he is fast enough off the mark and good enough to play at this level in these conditions.

“He competed with guys with real pace in our squad and that is probably the reason why he didn’t get as much game time.”

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Meanwhile, the Stormers assistant coach provided a reason why star backline player Damian Willemse was not selected this week.

“He had a personal matter and he is joining the team today [Thursday], so he couldn’t train with us this week.

“We just wanted to get the guys that were available to train and work with the rest of the team.”

The Stormers will be favourites heading into Friday’s match, but captain Salmaan Moerat knows how hard it is to get a victory in Wales.

“The Dragons are a quality side. Two years ago, when we came here it was a very tough game and it was arguably one of our most difficult games.

“They will always back themselves at home.

“If I am not mistaken, it’s their last home game as well, so they will be up for it.

“The URC in general is such a competitive competition.

“They have some great internationals in their side, but we will be well prepped and we are very excited for this occasion.”

Meanwhile, the Dragons would love to put a dent in the Stormers’ play-off aspirations.

“We have seen that it is full metal jacket from the Stormers and that’s great for us,” said Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan.

“We’re at home in front of our people and it is our last game at Rodney Parade – we need to make it count.

“I thought our intensity was superb against Connacht and we need to match that and be more accurate because we know they are coming.

“Connacht want to get in the play-offs, Stormers want to get into the play-offs, Ospreys want to get into the play-offs. How good would it be to knock one of them, maybe two of them, off?”

*In Friday’s other match, Edinburgh will be at home against Italian side Zebre Parma.

There are two changes for Edinburgh as centurions Viliame Mata and Mark Bennett both start.

“This is a massive match for our play-off aspirations, and we’ll need to be fully focused and disciplined to secure a positive result,” said Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt.

“Zebre Parma are a much-improved side and will travel to Edinburgh with nothing to lose.

“They bring physicality and can score from anywhere on the park, so we’ll need to match their energy from the get-go. We’re right in the battle for the play-offs and the squad know that every game in this run-in is a cup final.

“The backing of our supporters will once again be crucial, so we encourage everyone to get behind the team tomorrow [Friday] for this vital encounter.”

Geronimo Prisciantelli has been named at fullback with Simone Gesi, captain Giovanni Licata and Andrea Zambonin returning to the Zebre Parma matchday squad.

“Despite the many serious injuries in the last period, the team had a very good week, showing great ability to react effectively to difficulties,” said Zebre Parma head coach Fabio Roselli.

“Edinburgh need five points: we know their strengths and we know how to put them in difficulty.

“The team is very united; we know we have to be more accurate in some details and the players are looking forward to the game.

“All together we will do our best to finish the season as we deserve.”

See below for Friday’s teams and predictions!

Friday, May 10:

Dragons v Stormers
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 19.35; 20.35 SAST; 18.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Stormers by 13 points.

Teams:

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Chris Hollis, 10 Will Reed, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Harri Keddie, 6 Sean Lonsdale,5 George Nott, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Brodie Coghlan, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 James Benjamin, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Morgan Lloyd, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Sio Tomkinson.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Willie Engelbrecht, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Maickel English (Wales) and Gareth Newman (Wales)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Edinburgh v Zebre Parma
(Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 19.35; 20.35 CEST; 18.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Edinburgh by 22 points.

Teams:

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

Zebre Parma: 15 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Giovanni Montemauri, 9 Thomas Dominguez, 8 Giovanni Licata (captain), 7 Taina Fox-Matamua, 6 Giacomo Ferrari, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 Matteo Canali, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Giampietro Ribaldi, 1 Muhamed Hasa.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso Di Bartolomeo, 17 Samuele Taddei, 18 Riccardo Genovese, 19 David Sisi, 20 Bautista Stavile, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Damiano Mazza, 23 Lorenzo Pani.

Referee: Ben Breakspear (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ru Campbell (Scotland) and David Sutherland (Scotland)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Additional sources: @dragonsrugby & @URCOfficial

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