The Hollywoodbets Sharks are back in the Tank and will be as hungry as ever to get their first win of the season, while Munster tackle the Stormers in a rematch of last season’s final in round five of the URC. Shaun Goosen previews.
Friday 17 November
Edinburgh 3/5 | Draw 20/1 | Bulls 27/20
Edinburgh have enjoyed a solid start so far with three wins from four to occupy eighth, with their only defeat understandably coming at Leinster. Mike Blair’s men earned a lean three-point win over Connacht at the DAM Health last week but will be given a sterner test of their playoff credentials when they host the Bulls here.
Jake White’s side have started like a house on fire, topping the log on points difference, and a win over Edinburgh would see them finish their first European tour of the season with a three-from-four record – something that could become crucial later on in the campaign.
Verdict: Bulls 27/20
The Pretoria Boys are looking strong and are good value for a win here.
Ulster 1/7 | Draw 28/1 | Lions 21/5
Ulster will be difficult to beat after their fantastic 21-14 win over Munster at the Kingspan last week. Confidence in the side will be high and their home support should provide them with the boost they need to overcome an improving but youthful Lions outfit.
The Jozi Pride picked up their first win of the campaign by one point over Scarlets in Llanelli in the last round after three narrow defeats. While that result is a welcome one, they have a tough task on their hands in hoping to see off Ulster in Belfast.
Verdict: Lions (+8.5) 6/4
The Lions may not get within a score, but they’ve shown enough to be given the benefit of the doubt handicap-wise.
Zebre 7/5 | Draw 22/1 | Cardiff 11/20
After 28 straight losses dating back 18 months, Zebre finally broke their drought against the Sharks last week, winning 12-10. The ecstasy on the players’ faces at full-time tells the tale of a long-suffering team who will hope that the result marks a proper turnaround in fortunes in Parma.
They face a Cardiff side two points behind them in 13th on the log and with one win so far. Considering the turmoil going on at the Welsh Rugby Union this week after a damning independent review revealed a toxic workplace environment, there’s no telling how the Welsh clubs will be affected.
Verdict: Zebre 7/5
Get on Zebre to make it two on the bounce this Friday.
Saturday 18 November
Sharks 31/100 | Draw 25/1 | Connacht 23/10
The Sharks have been calamitous so far, with last week’s Zebre defeat the icing on the cake of their tour from hell. The Durbanites are stone last on the standings, with just one point and no wins to their name. Facing a Connacht outfit used to the cold and wet though, they must take full advantage.
The men from Galway have started brightly, sitting fifth with 14 points. That said, they will be put through the ringer heading into the new year as their next string of games includes the Bulls, Leinster, Bordeaux, Saracens, Ulster and Munster. Eish.
Verdict: Sharks (-8.5) 17/20
Get on the Hollywoodbets Sharks to come good and take full advantage of the humidity in Durban to knock over their opponents this week.
Dragons 7/5 | Draw 22/1 | Ospreys 11/20
In a tumultuous week for Welsh rugby in light of accusations of bigotry aimed at the WRU, Dragons host Ospreys at Rodney Parade with the hosts looking for a first win. Dai Flanagan’s troops are 15th and will be desperate to get one over Shield challengers Ospreys here.
The men from Swansea are 10th, the best placed of their fellow countrymen and are rightly favoured. A tough home loss to Glasgow last week could stifle their progress though.
Verdict: Dragons 7/5
Have a small strike on the hosts, they may want this one more and will have home support on their side.
Munster 1/4 | Draw 25/1 | Stormers 14/5
In a rematch of last season’s final, Munster tackle the Stormers looking to pocket another win over the Capetonians. The Thomond Park faithful should be in full voice in Limerick on the weekend, and a tough loss to Ulster last week could motivate Graham Rowntree’s men.
The Stormers come off the back of defeats to Glasgow and Benetton on tour and will need an inspired performance to best Munster here. They’ll doubtless raise their game for the occasion but winning in Limerick is never easy.
Verdict: Stormers (+10.5) 77/100
The 2022 champions will go down fighting.
Glasgow19/100 | Draw 33/1 | Benetton 10/3
The Warriors are third and look likely to go deep in the competition once more this season. The quality in their ranks coupled with the Scotstoun crowd should propel them to a relatively comfortable win.
Benetton are sixth, just a single point back of their opponents this week. While they continue to show major improvement year after year and are the only remaining unbeaten side left in the tournament, a win in Glasgow may be a bridge too far at this stage.
Verdict: Benetton (+11.5) 17/20
Benetton won’t lose by more than 11.
Leinster 1/150 | Draw 40/1 | Scarlets 11/1
Leinster shouldn’t be tested too much in the Irish capital by a Scarlets team that has already copped some big losses this season. The Welsh outfit simply don’t have the quality to match the Dublin dynamos.
Verdict: Leinster (-28.5) 4/5
Big handicap, but Leinster should clear it at the RDS.