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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 5

The South African teams have their work cut out for them in Round Five of the United Rugby Championship this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


The South African teams have their work cut out for them in Round Five of the United Rugby Championship this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Looking to build on their winning momentum, the Bulls tackle Edinburgh in the Scottish capital and the Lions take on Ulster in Belfast on Friday night. 

The coastal sides hope to turn their fortunes around on Saturday with the Sharks hosting Connacht in Durban and the Stormers meeting Munster in a repeat of last season’s final in Limerick.

Edinburgh v Bulls

Friday, 17 November – 21:35

Both teams had a Round Four to savour with Edinburgh handing Connacht their first loss of the season thanks to a last-gasp Ben Healy drop goal (25-22) and the Bulls beating Cardiff 18-12 to move to the top of the table.

Sean Everitt has had the magic touch his employers had hoped for so far in his maiden season in charge of Edinburgh, the former Sharks coach winning three of his four games at his new club, the same win-loss record as the Bulls.

Jake White’s men showed their grit to grind out a win despite not being at their best in the Welsh capital and they’ll need that on Friday night. I won’t be shocked if they pull off an upset but with Edinburgh set to have all of their Scottish internationals, they should edge it.

Prediction: Edinburgh by 5.

Suggested Bet: Edinburgh -3.5 at 1.85.

Ulster v Lions

Friday, 17 November – 21:35

Ever game, the Lions stayed in the fight and stayed in the fight until the very end where a bit of good fortune allowed them to snatch a 24-23 win over the Scarlets last weekend. Therefore, Ulster will want to take the game away from them early.

It was interesting to see the Lions play within themselves, resisting their natural attacking instincts in favour of a kick-heavy tactical approach, and while they wound up getting the win, that strategy would be counter-productive against Ulster.

Field position is vital, but unnecessary kicking will only be feeding the monster that is a supremely conditioned and efficient team that defeated Munster 21-14 last weekend.  

Either way, Ulster should be too strong for the scrappy pride of Johannesburg.

Prediction: Ulster by 12.

Suggested Bet: Lions +14.5 at 1.85.

Zebre v Cardiff

Friday, 17 November – 21:35

On cloud nine after breaking their 18-month drought against the Sharks last weekend, Zebre will be trying to make it two in a row. While the Italians deserve credit, the Sharks were their own worst enemies, so I’m not convinced they can go back-to-back.

Cardiff, who are 2-2, are coming off a six-point loss to the Bulls, who trounced Zebre 54-29. Rugby math don’t always work out the way you think, but Cardiff are the stronger, more refined outfit. It won’t be easy, but Cardiff should come away victorious.

Prediction: Cardiff by 7.  

Suggested Bet: Cardiff -4.5 at 1.85.

Sharks v Connacht

Saturday, 18 November – 17:00

After things went from bad to worse with their humiliating loss in Parma last weekend, the bottom-of-the-log Sharks will throw everything into this game to make it a successful homecoming. 

The problem is they’re coming up against a very good Connacht side who were narrowly beaten for the first time away from home last weekend by Edinburgh.

The Sharks’ basics have been diabolical and their discipline and decision-making not much better. They also have a severe lack of patience on attack and battle under the high ball.

The Sharks will be full of fire and much improved in their first home game, but I can’t see them beating the much more clinical Connacht, who offer great value as underdogs.

Prediction: Connacht by 6.

Suggested Bet: Connacht at 3.15.

Dragons v Ospreys

Saturday, 18 November – 19:15

Oh, boy. Fifteen plays 10 in a derby of struggling Welsh teams. It’s safe to say this one won’t attract many eyeballs outside of Wales, especially with rain expected, but putting a wager on it will make it interesting.

Still winless, the Dragons’ 33-10 loss to Leinster last weekend was their third at home. They’ve shown very little of value to suggest they’re worth backing, with their defence and ball protection being particularly problematic.

The Ospreys are 2-2 to start the season and have been competitive in all of their games. Their powerful scrum is poised to be a big weapon in this game, and they have more punch on attack, which points to victory for the visitors.

Prediction: Ospreys by 5.

Suggested Bet: Ospreys -4.5 at 1.85.

Munster v Stormers

Saturday, 18 November – 19:15

The Stormers’ tour troubles, which have plagued them since the inception of the URC, continued in Treviso last weekend and their challenge is that much tougher on Saturday night as they come up against the defending champions.

Looking to exact revenge for the heart-breaking 19-14 defeat in last season’s final, the Capetonians will – like the Sharks – have to show more patience with ball in hand and make better decisions in the halves.

Hurting after their 21-14 away loss to Ulster, Munster will be determined to keep their winning start at home intact. They are the one team the Stormers have been unable to beat, 34-18 and 26-24 victories preceding their title-clinching triumph, and that is unlikely to change in Limerick, a notoriously tough place to win where the Stormers are without their big hitters. 

Prediction: Munster by 9.

Suggested Bet: Stormers +9.5 at 1.85.

Glasgow Warriors v Benetton

Saturday, 18 November – 21:35

A compelling clash awaits in Glasgow, where the Warriors are used to the wet conditions they’ll be met with as they return from Wales where they claimed an eight-point win over the Ospreys. With three wins from four, Franco Smith’s men find themselves third on the log with their visitors in eighth place.

Benetton’s rugby has been bowling shoe ugly so far, but it’s been so effective that they are the only remaining unbeaten team in the tournament. They’re fighters with no thrills, just patient, hard work that frustrates and/or sees them outlast the opposition.

The best parts of the Italians’ game are their brilliant breakdown work and scrum, but they lack attacking sting. The Warriors know their way to the try line having scored more than double the amount of tries as their visitors. This is also Benetton’s first real test away from home, one they’re not equipped to pass. But it should be quite close. 

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 6.

Suggested Bet: Benetton +11.5 at 1.85.

Leinster v Scarlets

Saturday, 18 November – 21:35

Leinster have fully recovered from their shock opening-round loss to Glasgow with three emphatic wins and after making light work of the Dragons last week, they’re set to do the same against another of the Welsh regions.

The Scarlets were somewhat unlucky to lose to the Lions last weekend but they’re not close to the class of the title favourites so expect a one-sided affair. With rain on the cards, though, I’m leaning towards the visitors on the plus.

Prediction: Leinster by 25.

Suggested Bet: Scarlets +28.5 at 1.85.

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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