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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 5

The defending champion Stormers will seek to maintain their unbeaten record when they kick off the fifth round of the United Rugby Championship against the Ospreys in Swansea on Friday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The defending champion Stormers will seek to maintain their unbeaten record when they kick off the fifth round of the United Rugby Championship against the Ospreys in Swansea on Friday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The rest of the South African sides will be in action on a jam-packed Saturday. Back from their European tours, the Lions and Sharks host Ulster and Glasgow in Johannesburg and Durban respectively, while the Bulls meet Munster in Limerick.

Ospreys v Stormers

Friday, 14 October – 20:35

It spoke volumes of the Stormers’ confidence that they entrusted Junior Springbok captain Sacha Mngomezulu to pilot them in his first start and remained in cruise control for the duration of their 37-20 tour-opening triumph over Zebre in Parma.

Sticking to a methodical, build-an-innings game plan and having it pay off with a third 80th-minute bonus-point icing in a row speaks to a well-coached team, one with conviction who plays from the first minute to the last.

The Capetonians have been clicking from the word go, which is something the Ospreys are only dreaming of. The Welsh side have only managed one win (a 32-17 success over the Warriors) and are coming off a 30-point drubbing by Ulster.

They’re deceptively good at the breakdown, leading the league in turnovers (24) while the Stormers have made the fewest (7). The scrap for the ball will be especially crucial on a wet and windy night in Swansea where discipline will be paramount.

The visitors have the patience and power to overcome the conditions and the hosts to stay unbeaten. 

Prediction: Stormers by 9. 

Suggested Bet: Stormers -7.5 at 1.80.

Connacht v Leinster

Friday, 14 October – 20:35

Connacht jumps from one derby to the next and will be hopeful of pulling off another upset. The smallest of the Irish teams upped their set-piece play tremendously to trump struggling Munster 20-11 and break their duck after three heavy defeats.

The Sharks couldn’t keep up but showed in the first 60 minutes that Leinster aren’t unbeatable. That said, the title favourites did win 54-34 in the end to consolidate their position at the top of the log.

That unrivalled staying power, to keep on coming phase after phase, will lead Leinster to a convincing win in the rain.

Prediction: Leinster by 12. 

Suggested Bet: Leinster -7.5 at 1.86.

Lions v Ulster

Saturday, 15 October – 14:00

Can the Lions keep the good times going as they return from their improbable and highly impressive unbeaten European tour? To do so, they have to defy the odds yet again and pass what will be their toughest test to date.

Home ground advantage will aid their cause but the introduction of much-maligned water breaks this season helps visiting teams – especially Northern Hemisphere sides – deal with the altitude factor.

Rugby’s Rocky, the gutsy and durable Lions have taken lickings and fallen behind on the scorecards but stayed in the fight thanks to their game-changing defence masterminded by Jaque Fourie and landed knockout blows in each of their last three games.

They’ll fight tooth and nail again but Ulster are a different animal. Sitting second after rebounding from their loss to Leinster with a crushing 47-17 win over the Ospreys, the Irish outfit have the class, concentration, and composure to sustain their assault and end the Lions’ hot streak.  

Prediction: Ulster by 7. 

Suggested Bet: Ulster -2.5 at 1.79.

Sharks v Glasgow Warriors

Saturday, 15 October – 16:05

The Sharks’ Springboks are back in town and not a moment too soon after the Warriors’ glittering display against the Bulls last weekend.

Franco Smith’s charges were as fluid as the rain that fell in Glasgow as they put the men from Pretoria to the sword and with rain on the cards for this clash as well, they’ll be confident that they’ll be able to replicate their world-class handling.

The pace of the match will be much slower, however. Yes, the Sharks looked great and had success with their fast-paced attack against Leinster in the first 60 minutes, but a slow and steady approach will win them this weekend’s race.

The breakdown will be fiercely contested as both sides were excellent in this area, while the Sharks would’ve worked on their exits this week after making life hard for themselves in this regard in Dublin.

Back at home and set to be bolstered – with Eben Etzebeth in line to make his debut – the Durbanites should overpower the visitors.

Prediction: Sharks by 10. 

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors +11.5 at 1.85.

Edinburgh v Benetton

Saturday, 15 October – 18:15

South African-born Scotland and British & Irish Lions star Duhan van der Merwe last week signed a short-term deal to return to Edinburgh from crisis Gallagher Premiership club Worcester but it’s unlikely the monster wing will slot straight in this weekend.

The disappointing 22-19 home loss to the Lions was their third in a row while Benetton’s 34-14 rout of the Dragons was their third win and moved the Italian club into fourth place.

It’s the way they won last Sunday, the strength of their lineout and driving maul, and the commanding form of flyhalf Tomas Albornoz, who drives the team expertly and is yet to miss a kick at goal, that have me backing Benetton as heavy underdogs in another rainy game.

Prediction: Benetton by 3. 

Suggested Bet: Benetton at 4.90.

Cardiff v Dragons

Saturday, 15 October – 1815

As we predicted, Cardiff were able to beat the Scarlets on the road to improve to 2-2 and they should be too strong for the struggling Dragons, especially at home.

Having travelled from Italy where they took a 20-point beating by Benetton and with just one win so far, the Dragons are in for more disappointment. They’ve lost 14 straight to Cardiff dating back to 2015 and that trend will continue in the Welsh capital.

Prediction: Cardiff by 7. 

Suggested Bet: Dragons +8.5 at 1.86.

Munster v Bulls

Saturday, 15 October – 20:35

A powder keg of desperation and redemption will explode upon kick-off at Thomond Park. Munster have been the flops of the season so far, managing just one win in four starts against winless Zebre. The unexpected loss to Connacht last weekend raised more questions than answers and they’re seemingly ripe for the picking.

Whereas they’ll get confidence from the way the Warriors shredded the Bulls, Jake White’s charges would’ve written it off for what it was – a one-off howler in which they failed to pitch up. 

Munster have a host of internationals in their midst, so it’ll be a tough battle, but it’s clear they’re struggling to adapt to new coach Graham Rowntree’s game plan.

The Bulls, in contrast, have their structures in place and a return to form – starting with their usual intensity and physicality on defence – should see them win a wet weather arm-wrestle.  

Prediction: Bulls by 4.

Suggested Bet: Bulls at 2.45.

Scarlets v Zebre

Saturday, 15 October – 20:35

The dance of the desperates concludes the round as the two bottom dwellers go head-to-head for their first win of the season. After starting promisingly and pushing Leinster and the Sharks close, Zebre have regressed to the wooden spoonists of last season, laying down for Munster and the Stormers.

After drawing their opening clash with the Ospreys, the Scarlets have been scratching toward success and they’ll get across the line here. Zebre simply cannot defend a driving maul and have never beaten the Scarlets, so bank on the hosts.

Prediction: Scarlets by 12. 

Suggested Bet: Zebre +15.5 at 1.79.

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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