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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 7

A mouth-watering South African derby headlines Round Seven of the United Rugby Championship this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

United Rugby Championship

A mouth-watering South African derby headlines Round Seven of the United Rugby Championship this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

It’s the final round before the European break and the URC promises to go out with a bang with the Bulls and the Sharks battling it out at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Immediately following the clash in Pretoria is an encounter at Ellis Park where the Lions host the Dragons after which the Stormers will welcome Zebre to Stellenbosch.

Munster v Glasgow Warriors

Friday, 1 December – 21:35

The round starts with a cracker in Cork.

Munster looked great in defeat to Leinster away from home last weekend. Starting like a house on fire, they showed how dangerous and skillful they are by scoring the frontrunner for the try of the season and with a bit of luck, they could’ve toppled the title favourites.

Back at home, the defending champions will be confident that they’ll be able to overcome a stern test in the table-topping Warriors, who’re fresh off an impressive 33-20 win over Ulster.

Franco Smith’s men have won five from six, their only defeat coming to Irish out Connacht away from home in Round Two, and I see the same happening on their return to the Emerald Isle.

Prediction: Munster by 3.

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors +9.5 at 1.83.

Bulls v Sharks

Saturday, 2 December – 15:00

With the World Cup-winning Springboks back, this will be a proper bone-crunching, world-class South African derby we haven’t seen since last season. Anticipation is through the roof as the stars are out and the game could go either way.

Both teams were brilliant last weekend, the Bulls goring Connacht 53-27 and the Sharks slaying the Dragons 69-14 to finally pick up their first win of the season.

The Durbanites, in particular, were a team transformed as their half-dozen Boks inspired a magical makeover. They did struggle in the air, though, which is something the Bulls could target.

As strong as the Sharks are up front, the Bulls should be able to match them in the set pieces, which makes the battle of the halfback pairings crucial. If Jaden Hendrikse dictates terms from the base, the Sharks could snatch it, but the struggling Curwin Bosch keeps me from backing the visitors.

The Bulls have lost just twice at Loftus Versfeld since last February and I see them edging a humdinger.

Prediction: Bulls by 3.

Suggested Bet: Sharks +8.5 at 1.86.

Cardiff v Scarlets

Saturday, 2 December – 17:00

Cardiff showed great character to rally back from 14-0 down to break the Stormers’ hearts last weekend and should have too much class and grit for the Scarlets to handle.

Down in last place with just a solitary win, the Scarlets have been found wanting on both sides of the ball and are coming off a 31-9 loss to the Ospreys, so expect a comfortable win for Cardiff.

Prediction: Cardiff by 15.

Suggested Bet: Cardiff -7.5 at 1.84.

Lions v Dragons

Saturday, 2 December – 17:05

The Lions were at their free flowing finest in their 61-19 thumping of Zebre last weekend and this should be a similar open game. That said, with the Dragons being skinned alive by the Sharks at scrum time, the Lions will take every opportunity to do the same with their unheralded yet solid pack.

Perhaps because it was such a loose game, the Lions conceded tries too easily last weekend, so they’ll be sure to work on that. The way the Dragons were blown away in the final quarter, when they conceded no less than five tries, leaves them set for another hammering on the Highveld.

Prediction: Lions by 24.

Suggested Bet: Dragons -28.5 at 1.83

Stormers v Zebre

Saturday, 2 December – 19:15

Down but not out after their winless European tour, the Stormers return to their second home of Stellenbosch where they have a habit of sizzling and Saturday should be no different.

Zebre not only missed plenty of first-time tackles against the Lions, but they also allowed them to make a lot of post-contact metres, which will have the Capetonians champing at the bit.

With Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse set to return, the hosts will be potent and their defensive alignment in the backline should be much better as well, so expect them to canter to a big win.

Prediction: Stormers by 35.

Suggested Bet: Stormers -32.5 at 1.84.

Ulster v Edinburgh

Saturday, 2 December – 19:15

No.4 hosts No.5 in a compelling clash. Both teams are coming off losses, Ulster away to Glasgow as mentioned (33-20) and Edinburgh to Benetton at home (24-22). The surprise loss was a real missed opportunity for the Scots who now find themselves with one of the tougher assignments on the road.

Ulster are unbeaten at home this season, having beaten the Bulls (26-19), Munster (21-14) and the Lions (24-17), and with Steven Kitshoff adding his might and class to the pack, they should keep that record intact.

Prediction: Ulster by 6.

Suggested Bet: Edinburgh +10.5 at 1.83.

Connacht v Leinster

Saturday, 2 December – 21:35

Connacht will likely be bolstered by their Irish internationals but it’s still a lot to ask of them to return from their trip to South Africa and a 53-27 lashing at Loftus Versfeld to topple the top seeds.

Leinster are the total package and showed their composure to turn a 10-point deficit into a five-point win over Munster last weekend. They’ve won five in a row, and they’ll continue that momentum in this feisty Irish derby.

Prediction: Leinster by 10.

Suggested Bet: Leinster -8.5 at 1.83.

Benetton v Ospreys

Saturday, 2 December – 21:35

Benetton are battlers and they proved that once again to upset Edinburgh in the Scottish capital last weekend. They’re not the strongest, fastest or most polished but they are fighters and it’s seen them only suffer one loss.

The Ospreys are 3-3 after their 22-point win over the hapless Scarlets last weekend. Their set pieces are solid, and they have a couple of good attacking weapons. However, Benetton know how to play the conditions well and should outwit them.

Prediction: Benetton by 5.

Suggested Bet: Ospreys +6.5 at 1.83.

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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