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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 11

Teams will look to finish the year on a high while others will be out to start 2023 with a bang in the United Rugby Championship this weekend.

Siya Kolisi

Teams will look to finish the year on a high while others will be out to start 2023 with a bang in the United Rugby Championship this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The South African sides are in action on New Year’s Eve following Friday night’s Scottish derby sequel and a repeat of the Italian derby with the Sharks battling the Bulls in Durban and the Stormers squaring off against the Lions in Cape Town.

Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors

Friday, 30 December – 21:35

Last weekend’s first leg was a typically attritional battle and it’ll be more of the same at a wet Murrayfield. We called a home win for the Warriors but it was somewhat surprising that they led from start to finish.

If Emiliano Boffelli didn’t have a rare off night with the boot, things might’ve been different, but Glasgow were full value for their 16-10 win. As a result, Edinburgh have to respond with a seven-point triumph if they are to hold onto the 1872 Cup.

Home-ground advantage sways the sequel in Edinburgh’s favour, but Glasgow showed me enough of an edge in physicality and in the scrums that I’m backing them as underdogs.

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 2. 

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors at 2.90

Zebre v Benetton

Saturday, 31 December – 14:30

As expected, Benetton brushed their local rivals aside last weekend, romping to a 38-5 victory. It won’t be quite such a blowout with winless Zebre having home-ground advantage this time around, but it’ll still be a one-sided affair.

Prediction: Benetton by 20. 

Suggested Bet: Benetton -8.5 at 1.79.

Sharks v Bulls

Saturday, 31 December – 16:55

It’s a rematch of last season’s quarter-final showdown, which the Bulls won 30-27 thanks to a last-gasp Chris Smith drop goal. It’s also the second meeting between the sides this year with the men from Pretoria prevailing 40-27 in October.

This time it’s at Kings Park, not Loftus Versfeld, and while there’ll be a smidgen of revenge in the back of the Sharks’ minds, it won’t be personal like last weekend’s North-South derby was for the Bulls.

Instead, the Durbanites will be more concerned with continuing their unbeaten start under Neil Powell. They’re 4-0 since the former Blitzbok coach took over from Sean Everitt at the end of November and Powell’s the x-factor that could see the Sharks snap a three-match losing run against Jake White’s men.

They’re hitting their straps whereas the Bulls find themselves in a hole. White’s two-squad strategy in recent weeks has backfired in a big way and they’re hurting after going bust in Cape Town. A wounded Bulls team are a dangerous animal but the Sharks have the momentum, power, and flair to turn them back.  

Prediction: Sharks by 7.

Suggested Bet: Sharks -4.5 at 1.81.

Stormers v Lions

Saturday, 31 December – 19:00

Will lightning strike twice? Twelve months ago, the Lions shocked all and sundry with a 37-19 win over the Stormers at DHL Stadium. They haven’t won a single derby since, including suffering two home defeats to the Stormers (32-10 and 31-22), while the defending champions have gone on a 17-match unbeaten streak at home.   

The memory of that upset will steel the Stormers and ensure they don’t take the Lions likely. Unfortunately, the Lions were so listless in their 37-10 loss to the Sharks last weekend that it’s hard to see them being competitive, even if Dobson – like Powell did last week – decides to rest some of his Springbok stars.

Prediction: Stormers by 17.

Suggested Bet: Stormers -15.5 at 1.81.

Cardiff v Ospreys

Sunday, 01 January – 17:00

Winning – and losing – is a habit. That’s what Cardiff’s last-gasp 29-24 win over the Dragons proved. They lacked intensity on defence, perhaps underestimating their hosts, but found a way to win.

It’s that extra gear that’s earned them an eight-point cushion over next-best Ospreys at the top of the Welsh Shield and will see them edge this encounter.  

Prediction: Cardiff by 5.

Suggested Bet: Cardiff -4.5 at 1.79.

Scarlets v Dragons

Sunday, 01 January – 19:15

The Dragons put everything into stunning Cardiff and the Scarlets, whose only win this season came over whipping boys Zebre, will be hoping the late heartbreak leaves the Dragons deflated.

Having gotten one over the Ospreys (one of their three wins), pushed the Sharks close, and held the Lions to a draw, the Dragons have shown more promise, and as big underdogs, I’m tipping them to replicate their gutsy Boxing Day performance and end up with a win this time around. 

Prediction: Dragons by 1.

Suggested Bet: Dragons at 3.30.

Ulster v Munster

Sunday, 01 January – 19:15

These two teams were on opposite ends of nail-biting derbies last weekend, Ulster edging Connacht 22-20 and Leinster pipping Munster 20-19. This should be another cliffhanger as Munster have found their groove after enduring a dreadful start to the season.

Both teams have unstoppable mauls and dangerous backs. Ulster, though, have a far greater conversion rate, which coupled with home-ground advantage, should see them claim a narrow win. 

Prediction: Ulster by 3. 

Suggested Bet: Munster +4.5 at 1.88.

Leinster v Connacht

Sunday, 01 January – 21:35

Having to come from behind against Munster to preserve their perfect record, Leinster learned a valuable lesson without paying a price for it, that being they’re not invincible. That, along with Connacht scoring two tries at the death to almost salvage a draw against Ulster, will shield the log leaders from complacency.

Connacht couldn’t find a way through Leinster’s defence in October, suffering a 10-0 whitewash at home. They’ll struggle again and hang tough initially, but Leo Cullen’s charges will eventually pull away. Rain, however, should keep Leinster from covering the spread.      

Prediction: Leinster by 12.

Suggested Bet: Connacht +17.5 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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