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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 8

Festive derbies are on deck as the United Rugby Championship resumes on Friday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


Festive derbies are on deck as the United Rugby Championship resumes on Friday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The URC is the gift that keeps on giving this Christmas season with matches on Friday, Saturday and Boxing Day.

The big game from a South African perspective is the mouth-watering derby between the Stormers and the Bulls in Cape Town on Saturday. The clash between the Sharks and the Lions, meanwhile, has been moved to 6 January.

Ulster v Connacht

Friday, 22 December – 21:35

Connacht can beat any team on any given day but have run into problems they’re battling to shake. They’re on a four-match losing streak in all competitions and while they pipped Ulster 22-20 at home last month, it’ll be a different story in Belfast.

Coming off a 31-15 win over Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup last weekend, Ulster have momentum and the pack, bolstered by Steven Kitshoff, to power past their hosts.

Prediction: Ulster by 10.

Suggested Bet: Connacht +11.5 at 1.83.

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh

Friday, 22 December – 21:35

The battle for the 1872 Cup will be renewed in Glasgow. The Warriors are the holders of the cherished silverware, having done the double over Edinburgh last season, and starting the two-leg series at home leaves them well-poised to hang on to it.

Edinburgh have some attacking flair with the likes of Duhan van der Merwe being in good form. However, Franco Smith’s second-placed Warriors have both sizzle and steak that should see them prevail.

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 6.

Suggested Bet: Edinburgh +7.5 at 1.83.

Zebre v Benetton

Saturday, 23 December – 15:00

Both teams are coming off victories in the European Challenge Cup, Zebre beating Oyonnax 21-14 and Benetton beating Perpignan 29-7. Benetton have long dominated the Italian derby, winning the last six showdowns on the trot, and that’s set to continue as they have too much class for their countrymen to handle.

Prediction: Benetton by 12.

Suggested Bet: Benetton -9.5 at 1.83.

Stormers v Bulls

Saturday, 23 December – 19:00

It’s the big one. The North-South derby. It’s the greatest rivalry in South African rugby and the next chapter will be written in Cape Town where the Stormers are favourites, not only because of home ground advantage but also the not-so-small fact that they’ve had the Bulls’ number in recent years.

Jake White’s Bulls have never beaten John Dobson’s charges in the URC, a stretch of six games, but they’ll fancy their chances this weekend, despite suffering a heart-breaking 29-28 loss to Lyon in France last weekend. Having fielded a second-string side means White has kept his powder dry and the in-form first-choice team will be fresh and frothing to stick it to the Stormers.

The Bulls’ ‘A’ team are a well-oiled machine with power and athleticism in the pack and synergistic sting in the backline. The Capetonians have the talent but not the cohesion that took them to the title in the inaugural season and the final last season.

The smash-and-grab win over La Rochelle last weekend could be the spark that ignites them, but with them being so disjointed, I smell a Bulls upset.

Prediction: Bulls by 2.

Suggested Bet: Bulls at 2.25.

Cardiff v Dragons

Tuesday, 26 December – 17:00

There’s a long-standing gulf in class between these teams. Cardiff have won no less than the last 17 games in this rivalry. The last time the Dragons, who are down in last place, beat Cardiff was all the way back in 2014 when they triumphed 23-17, and nothing – based on their form this season – suggests there will be an upset come Tuesday.

Prediction: Cardiff by 14.

Suggested Bet: Cardiff -9.5 at 1.84.

Scarlets v Ospreys

Tuesday, 26 December – 19:15

The Scarlets have been bitterly disappointing this season. They only have two wins to show for their efforts in all competitions and were soundly beaten by Georgia’s Black Lion in their backyard last weekend.

The Ospreys have more strings in their bow and have had more success, including a commanding 31-9 win over the Scarlets last month, so expect another victory for them. 

Prediction: Ospreys by 5.

Suggested Bet: Ospreys at 2.05.

Munster v Leinster

Tuesday, 26 December – 21:35

Munster haven’t had it their own way as of late. They’re 2-2-1 in their last five matches in all competitions and lost 32-24 to the Exeter Chiefs last weekend after starting their Champions Cup campaign with a 17-all draw with Bayonne.

Leinster, on the other hand, have only lost one game all season. They followed up their big 16-9 win over La Rochelle with a 37-27 victory over the Sale Sharks last weekend. They’ve only gotten stronger since Jacques Nienaber joined them and that balance between attack and defence, on top of their current form, should see them edge their arch-rivals.

Prediction: Leinster by 5.

Suggested Bet: Leinster -3.5 at 1.88.

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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