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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 14

The blockbuster battle between the Bulls and defending champions Munster at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday headlines Round 14 of the United Rugby Championship.

URC

The blockbuster battle between the Bulls and defending champions Munster at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday headlines Round 14 of the United Rugby Championship, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The Sharks kick off the round against the Warriors in Glasgow on Friday night while the Lions and Stormers join the Bulls in action on home soil on Saturday. The Johannesburg side have the unenviable task of taking on table-topping Leinster and the Capetonians collide with the Ospreys.

Glasgow Warriors v Sharks

Friday, 19 April – 20:35

On one hand, the 13th-placed Sharks will want to maintain their momentum after stringing together four wins in all competitions. On the other hand, they’re out of the URC playoff race and prioritising the European Challenge Cup, so it’ll be interesting to see what side John Plumtree decides to put out.

Glasgow have been mightily impressive this season and a four-match winning streak sees them lie in second place in the standings. They’ve been particularly outstanding on defence and have conceded a total of just 32 points in their last four URC fixtures.

A fully loaded Sharks side will make this a very interesting game, but either way, Franco Smith’s Warriors should have the strength, smarts and structure to see off the Sharks.

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 11.

Suggested Bet: Sharks +17 at 1.86.

Ulster v Cardiff

Friday, 19 April – 20:35

Ulster have had a rough time as of late, losing three of their last four games in all competitions and were crushed 53-14 by Clermont in their European Challenge Cup last-eight counter last weekend.

In eighth place, just one point ahead of the next three teams, this is a game against a weaker side they simply have to win. The Ospreys are down in 12th place and while they’re on a five-match losing streak, they were within six points of their opposition in each of those games and should hang tough in another losing effort in Belfast.

Prediction: Ulster by 7.

Suggested Bet: Cardiff +10 at 1.83.

Benetton v Dragons

Saturday, 20 April – 15:00

The Dragons beat the only team below them, Zebre, last time out. The 20-13 home triumph was just their third win of the campaign, so they’ll have a spring in their step.

Benetton, who are sixth, are on a serious roll and are fresh off one of their finest performances of the year, a commanding 39-24 European Challenge Cup quarter-final win over Connacht.

Expect the Italians to bag the full five log points.

Prediction: Benetton by 18.

Suggested Bet: Benetton -14.5 at 1.83.

Lions v Leinster

Saturday, 20 April – 15:00

Leinster made a massive statement with their 40-13 trouncing of La Rochelle in last weekend’s European Champions Cup quarter-final to end the French club’s reign in emphatic fashion and while they’ll probably rest a few star players, their unrivalled depth will see them strengthen their position at the top of the URC log with a win over a game but outmatched Lions team.

The pride of Johannesburg nearly pulled off a huge upset over the Irish giants in their only previous clash at Ellis Park last year, succumbing 39-36, so they won’t be lacking belief. At the same time, though, Leinster would’ve learned their lesson and won’t be complacent this time around.

Prediction: Leinster by 10.

Suggested Bet: Leinster at 2.10.

Bulls v Munster

Saturday, 20 April – 17:05

After sacrificing last weekend’s European Champions Cup quarter-final against the Northampton Saints by sending a weakened team to Franklin’s Gardens, the third-placed Bulls have to get the job done on Saturday to justify the decision.

Their Springboks are all well rested and it’ll mainly be up to them to turn back fourth-placed Munster, who were last in action against the Saints in the European Champions Cup Round of 16 two weeks ago when they suffered a 24-14 loss.

The Irish outfit have two wins, a draw and three losses away from home in the URC this season and pushed the Bulls close in their only previous trip to Pretoria in 2022 when the hosts triumphed 29-24.

The Bulls, in turn, are unbeaten at home this campaign, winning all five fixtures in their backyard including romping to a 40-22 win over the Stormers in their last home game.

Munster have a solid spine and aren’t easy to break down, however, the Bulls have the physicality, ruck speed and strike power out wide to keep their perfect home record intact.

Prediction: Bulls by 9.

Suggested Bet: Munster +9.5 at 1.85.

Stormers v Ospreys

Saturday, 20 April – 19:15

The Stormers, in fifth place, face an Ospreys side who are easily overlooked despite having quietly been doing their thing. The top-placed Welsh region sit seventh and reached the Round of 16 in the European Challenge Cup, where they put up a decent fight in their 23-13 loss to Gloucester.

John Dobson’s men will, thus, have to give the visitors the respect they deserve, and I have no doubt they’ll do so as they seek to continue their push for a place in the top four. They’ve shown they’re up there with the very best clubs in the world and came within a hair’s breadth of another famous win over La Rochelle last time out.

They picked up a few injuries in the heart-breaking 22-21 loss, but they have the depth to claim a comfortable win.

Prediction: Stormers by 16.

Suggested Bet: Ospreys +18.5 at 1.84.

Connacht v Zebre

Saturday, 20 April – 20:35

After crashing out of the European Challenge Cup last weekend, Connacht can turn their full attention back to the URC where they’re still in the playoff hunt in 10th position, just one point behind eighth-placed Ulster. They’ll have too much firepower for bottom dwellers Zebre, who’ve still only registered one win.

Prediction: Connacht by 20.

Suggested Bet: Connacht -19 at 1.81.

Edinburgh v Scarlets

Saturday, 20 April – 20:35

After their 45-3 mauling by the other Scottish club, Glasgow, last time out, the Scarlets are heading for a hiding in the capital. The teams met during the pool phase of the European Challenge Cup in January when Edinburgh prevailed 31-19 away from home, so the scoreline should be even wider this time.

Prediction: Edinburgh by 24.

Suggested Bet: Edinburgh -17 at 1.86.

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 SARugby.com and senior staff writer at Rugby365.com, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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