Connect with us


United Rugby Championship Predictions – February 18,19 & 20

The battle for prime log positions in the United Rugby Championship will intensify when all of the European teams return to action this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The battle for prime log positions in the United Rugby Championship will intensify when all of the European teams return to action this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

A mouth-watering showdown between Munster and Edinburgh and a clash between Cardiff and Zebre get the ball rolling on Friday night.

Saturday starts hot with Leinster taking on the Ospreys before the Glasgow Warriors battle Benetton and the Scarlets collide with Connacht.

The only fixture on Sunday sees the struggling Dragons host high-flying Ulster at Rodney Parade, where a win for the vaunted visitors will see them end the weekend as they entered it – at the top of the table.

Munster v Edinburgh

Friday, 18 February – 21:35

It’s a second successive Scottish assignment for Munster and the most high-profile match of the round with the Irish club in fifth place and Edinburgh in the third position. Munster could’ve come away with a draw but Jack Crowley’s missed conversion saw them succumb 13-11 to the Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

They showed fight in the second half to give themselves a chance and being back at home this week, they’ll fancy their chances against an Edinburgh side on the slide. Gutted by 13 national call-ups, Edinburgh was no match for Leinster, crashing to a 26-7 loss and surrendering their place at the top of the log.

Munster’s shown to be more capable of dealing without their Test stars than their Scottish counterparts, which should lead to a third consecutive defeat for Edinburgh on an ice-cold evening.

Prediction: Munster by 10.

Suggested bet: Munster -8.5 at 1.84.

Cardiff v Zebre

Friday, 18 February – 21:35

Cardiff stunned title favourites Leinster 29-27 in their last outing and have had two weeks to prepare since then will safeguard them from complacency against winless Zebre.

The basement dwellers’ woes have been compounded by losing four key men to national duty, which for a team with little depth is a bigger blow than the nine Test stars Cardiff are missing and saw them go down 34-17 to Munster last time out.

There’s only one outcome and that’s a comfortable win for Cardiff on a windy night. Playing on what’s expected to be a soggy pitch has me going with Zebre on the plus, though.

Prediction: Cardiff by 15.

Suggested bet: Zebre +19.5 at 1.83.

Leinster v Ospreys

Saturday, 19 February – 19:00

The other blockbuster encounter of the round. Leinster’s above-mentioned 19-point pummelling of Edinburgh, which they achieved despite the absence of 15-star players, moved them into second place while their visitors sit in sixth.

The Ospreys are an ‘any given Saturday’ type of team, i.e. they can beat anyone on any given night. What they lack in consistency they make up for in shock factor. They stunned Munster and Ulster, both at full-strength, as well as Edinburgh in their most recent outing.

It’s, therefore, tricky to predict which Ospreys outfit will show up. Everything points to a solid Leinster win, but I expect some love for the giant-killing Ospreys on the betting front.

Prediction: Leinster by 14.

Glasgow Warriors v Benetton

Saturday, 19 February – 21:35

It’s bound to be a miserable night for Benetton in every sense. It’ll be cold and wet in the Scottish capital, and it’ll take something extraordinary (a red card perhaps) for the visitors to topple the hosts, who’re flying high after their hard-fought win over Munster that moved them up to third and past Edinburgh to the top of the Scottish/Italian Shield.

It took a red card to give the Italians, stripped of a whopping 23 Test stars, an opportunity to snatch a win in their last fixture against the Dragons. Tommaso Albornoz, however, missed a late penalty and the sides had to settle for a 13-all draw.

The Warriors will have the first meeting at the back of their minds, one in which Leonardo Marin broke Benetton out of jail with a match-winning penalty at the death. The Scots were more impressive than the 13-11 scoreline suggests last week. They dominated the first half and it was only when they were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes that Munster threatened to steal a win.

With the hosts on form and the visitors severely depleted, Glasgow will get their revenge.

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 12.

Scarlets v Connacht

Saturday, 19 February – 21:35

This should be a closely contested clash as these teams are evenly matched. Both played Ulster in their last appearances. The Scarlets lost 27-15 and Connacht fell 32-12 the following week. It was the second heavy defeat in a row for Connacht, who were crushed 42-20 by the Warriors.

It’s a reflection of the lack of depth the smallest of the four Irish clubs have. They’ve been the least disrupted by Six Nations call-ups of all the clubs, with just three of their key personnel away on national duty.

Home ground advantage will come into play here, while the Scarlets have also had Connacht’s number in recent years, winning eight of the last 10 including the last three straight.

Prediction: The Scarlets by 5.

Dragons v Ulster

Sunday, 20 February – 16:00

A mismatch closes out the round. The Dragons haven’t been able to buy a win since the 35-22 away triumph over Connacht in Round Three. It remains their solitary success and the fact that they’ll have a home ground advantage is of little consequence considering they haven’t won in their backyard since last April.

Log-leading Ulster is rolling, even without their seven Irish squad members, and they should have little difficulty dispatching the embattled Dragons. The conditions could be their biggest challenge as the wind will be howling (43km/h and upwards) and it’s set to rain.

Prediction: Ulster by 17.

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.

More in Rugby