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European Challenge Cup Predictions – Semi-Finals

Two nations’ hopes of European Challenge Cup glory will live on and two others will be dashed in the semi-finals this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

European Challenge Semi-Finals

Two nations’ hopes of European Challenge Cup glory will live on and two others will be dashed in the semi-finals this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Wales’ Scarlets square off with Scotland’s Glasgow Warriors in Llanelli on Saturday and France’s Toulon take on Italy’s Benetton at the Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday.

Scarlets v Glasgow Warriors

Saturday, 29 April – 18:30

Both teams will want to make the most of their maiden appearance in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals. 

The Scarlets, who topped pool B and snatched a thrilling 32-30 win over Clermont in the quarters, have put in the hard yards to be in the final four, making more carries (667) and metres (2969) than any other team. 

The Welsh region have also made the most clean breaks (64) but their finishing hasn’t been the best, with many chances going a begging throughout their campaign, something they cannot afford in a big knockout game. 

Glasgow, who saw off the Lions 31-21 in the last eight, have been the most clinical team in terms of their conversion rate, scoring a tournament-leading 31 tries. Discipline has been an issue for them, so if the Scarlets can build phases, they could force the visitors to slip up.  

Franco Smith’s Warriors have been on a major role, winning eight of their last nine games in all competitions including the last five straight. One of those victories was a 12-9 win over the self-same Scarlets in torrential rain in the United Rugby Championship two weeks ago. 

Their maul proved too powerful for Dwayne Peel’s men to handle, earning them two tries, and it will no doubt be one of their weapons of choice again come Saturday. Overall, the surging Warriors have more strings in their bow and should leave Llanelli with the win. 

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 8.

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors -2.5 at 1.79.

Toulon v Benetton

Sunday, 30 April – 13:30

Benetton have an uphill battle on their hands in France. Toulon are unlike the three other semi-finalists in that they’re a big fish in a small pond and are the favourites to seal the silverware. 

Personnel and budget-wise, the French giants are on a different level and have a rich pedigree that includes three European Champions Cup titles and four TOP 14 crowns. 

Big stages are nothing new to them. They’ve featured in four European Challenge Cup finals including last year’s decider and will draw on their experience to pile pressure on Benetton, who’re breaking new ground as the first Italian side to reach the final four. 

Unbeaten in their campaign, Toulon exacted revenge for last year’s final heartbreak by lashing Lyon 48-23 in the quarter-finals to end their reign, while Benetton beat Cardiff 27-23 in their last-eight encounter. 

Benetton have a good kicking game driven by captain Dewaldt Duvenage and his halfback partner Tomas Albornoz that’ll serve them well initially, but as evidenced in the URC, they don’t have the staying power to hang with top teams for a full 80 minutes. 

Therefore, expect Toulon to triumph with room to spare. 

Prediction: Toulon by 15.

Suggested Bet: Toulon -10.5 at 1.88.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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