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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 16

All four South African sides are in enemy territory as the United Rugby Championship roars back to life this weekend.


All four South African sides are in enemy territory as the United Rugby Championship roars back to life this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Headlining Round 16 is the top-of-the-table clash between Leinster and the Stormers in Dublin on Friday night.

The rest of the local teams are in action on Saturday. The Lions take on Benetton in Treviso, the Sharks square off against the Scarlets in Llanelli, and the Bulls battle Ulster in Belfast.

Zebre v Cardiff

Friday, 24 March – 21:10

The Welsh Shield leaders won’t be satisfied with anything less than a full house against the winless men from Parma, whose latest loss was a 50-8 thumping by the Glasgow Warriors, and there’s no reason to suggest they won’t secure maximum points.  

Prediction: Cardiff by 21.

Suggested Bet: Cardiff -10.5 at 1.83.

Leinster v Stormers

Friday, 24 March – 21:35

With the Stormers’ Springboks committing to this fixture, the Capetonians could be a legitimate threat to imperious Leinster. At 5.00 underdogs, I expect plenty of punters to back the defending champions to hand the Irish giants their first loss of the season, especially with their Six Nations Grand Slam-winning stars likely to miss the match.    

The reality, however, is that the returning Springboks will be rusty after having not played since January while Leinster have unrivalled depth and structures that’ll see them get the job done. 

Prediction: Leinster by 10.

Suggested Bet: Stormers +12.5 at 1.85.

Benetton v Lions

Saturday, 25 March – 15:00

The Lions lost the momentum they’d gained from wins over Glasgow and the Bulls with their recent back-to-back Currie Cup defeats.

There’s still great turmoil within the franchise, which extends to every facet of the operation. Their last trip abroad was a disaster and their maiden assignment in Treviso will be a tough challenge.

Benetton are in better shape in every sense and just outside of the top eight in ninth, so they’ll be motivated, switched on, and should prevail at home.      

Prediction: Benetton by 7.

Suggested Bet: Benetton -2.5 at 1.81.

Ospreys v Dragons

Saturday, 25 March – 15:00

The Ospreys will have revenge on their minds after the Dragons won the last meeting 32-25. That home win snapped a run of three consecutive defeats in this rivalry.

Indeed, the Ospreys are traditionally the better team and have been this season as well, sitting two places above the Dragons in 13th. Add home-ground advantage and the Ospreys are good for the win. 

Prediction: Ospreys by 7.

Suggested Bet: Dragons +8.5 at 1.83.

Connacht v Edinburgh

Saturday, 25 March – 17:00

A big game for both teams with Connacht in eighth position (39) and Edinburgh in 12th (32). They’ve been on contrasting trajectories with the Irish club having won their last four while the Scottish side have lost their last three. Head-to-head they’re 5-5 in their last 10 and everything’s in Connacht’s favour to turn back the visitors. 

Prediction: Connacht by 5.

Suggested Bet: Edinburgh +7.5 at 1.83.

Scarlets v Sharks

Saturday, 25 March – 19:00

Like the Stormers, the Sharks will welcome back their slew of Springboks for this clash. It’s a long time coming for frustrating Sharks supporters, who’ve had to watch their side wallow in mediocrity without their green and gold superstars.

They, too, will have to shake off the rust, but this looks set to be a welcome-back party where a simple, power-based game plan should see the Sharks muscle their way to victory over their 14th-placed hosts.  

Prediction: Sharks by 9. 

Suggested Bet: Sharks -3.5 at 1.83.

Munster v Glasgow Warriors

Saturday, 25 March – 19:15

Munster have been on a roll in the URC, winning five on the trot, while the Glasgow Warriors have won seven of their last eight, their lone loss in this stretch coming against the Lions at Ellis Park. As a result, they find themselves in the top five, Munster sitting fifth and Glasgow fourth.

This has been a closely contested rivalry in recent years with one definitive trend. The home side have won six of the last seven encounters, which strengthens the case for Munster to continue their hot streak.

Prediction: Munster by 9.

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors +10.5 at 1.90.

Ulster v Bulls

Saturday, 25 March – 21:35

If the last several weeks weren’t bad enough for the embattled Bulls (losing six in a row in all competitions), things go from bad to worse with this match-up.

Winning three of their last four, including their last two, have seen Ulster climb up to third on the log while the Bulls have dropped to sixth. Ulster have beaten the Lions (39-37), Stormers (35-5), and Sharks (31-24), and given their class and the Bulls’ struggles, they’ll complete a South African clean sweep.

Prediction: Ulster by 12. 

Suggested Bet: Ulster -9.5 at 1.84.

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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