After a slow transition, the rugby domestic competitions are picking up the pace now as they see the return of the Test players. Bet Central explores the key duels across the Gallagher Premiership and United Rugby Championship.
Sale Sharks vs Bath: Pivotal Control
Both players can do a bit of everything, the other, is a maverick whose genius is both a blessing and a curse at times. But one thing that is undoubted about either one between George Ford, and Finn Russell – they are match winners.
For Sale Sharks having the steady boot of Ford gives them the edge in a tactical battle that could unfold if the conditions deem it so. He is also well capable of showing his prowess with the ball in hand and has accurate distribution.
Russell on the other hand is a player who you know is going to give the ball some air, it’s stopping that often proves tough. There is no doubt there will be some magic with the Scotsman at 10, but will it carry them through this tough fixture? That remains to be seen.
Northampton Saints vs Harlequins: Clash Of The Captains
Perhaps Alex Dombrandt lost out to Lewis Ludlam for a place in the England squad at the recently concluded World Cup and in the games that he played Ludlam more than justified his selection at the showpiece.
This time they clash in the English top tier as the season begins to become serious. Both players will captain their sides and Quins’ Dombrandt will have a point to prove as he looks to win back his place in the England squad.
For Ludlam, it should be a case of leading from the front as he usually does and things will come together. The ferocious ball carrier has been in good knick so far this season.
Cardiff vs Stormers: Opensiders In Battle
Ellis Jenkins will make his 100th appearance for Cardiff and will lead a side that has been struggling this season, but they won’t face an overly confident side either after a difficult tour for the Stormers thus far.
Jenkins has been massively unlucky with injuries over the years and at a point missed almost 2 years with a knee. His body has been kinder to him in recent times, and he’ll hope it stays that way as he looks to fight his way back in the Welsh squad.
He faces a man who is equally talented, but also really unlucky with injuries. Nama Caba will pack down at openside and his breakdown will be crucial if the Stormers are to end on a high.
Glasgow Warriors vs Ulster: 12s Go All In
In a clash of pure bulk in the midfield, Sione Tuipulotu will go up against the big and lanky figure of Stuart McCloskey. Both players are crucial for their respective sides as this Scottish-Irish derby unfolds in Glasgow.
Tuipulotu had a difficult World Cup with Scotland and will be looking to find some rhythm with his provincial side, but he faces a daunting task as he looks to stop McCloskey in his tracks. That is easier said than done.
Apart from being a big and physical presence in midfield, McCloskey also possesses good ball skills and that will pose a threat for the Warriors. If they can stop him off 1st phase ball, it will help slow Ulster’s attack.
Leinster vs Munster: 8thman Battle
For a long time, Gavin Coombes looked destined to be the long-term successor of Jamie Heaslip and CJ Stander after he retired from rugby and returned to South Africa. But Leinster star Caelan Doris had other plans.
The green no.8 jersey now well and truly belongs to Doris, but it does not mean the abrasive Coombes cannot get the better of his Ireland teammate. Coombes has incredible physical gifts, but at times it seems mentally he is not as in tune.
Doris on the other hand has been a superstar for Ireland and Leinster over the past year. This weekend he will have to do it for Leinster in a titanic battle for the ages in Ireland.