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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Round 9

The Sharks seek redemption in the worst way when they kick off the ninth round of the United Rugby Championship against the Ospreys in Durban on Friday night, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Marnus Potgieter

The Sharks seek redemption in the worst way when they kick off the ninth round of the United Rugby Championship against the Ospreys in Durban on Friday night, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The rest of the South African teams will look to continue their winning ways. Saturday sees the Stormers take on the Dragons in Gqeberha and the Bulls collide with Cardiff in Pretoria. The Lions wrap up the weekend’s action against the Scarlets in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Sharks v Ospreys

Friday, 2 December – 19:00

It’s not every day that a CEO of a franchise apologises to fans for his team’s performance. The dud the Springbok-less Sharks laid against Cardiff last Sunday warranted Eduard Coetzee’s apology and Sean Everitt’s sacking as the 35-0 humiliation was the first time the Durban outfit had been whitewashed in the professional era and spoiled South African sides’ perfect record against Welsh regions in the URC.

Fans are demanding a backlash and the Sharks, who’re set to be bolstered by a number of their returning Springboks, will deliver against an Ospreys outfit who couldn’t cope with the Bulls’ physicality and who’ll have the same problem at Kings Park.

Prediction: Sharks by 19. 

Suggested Bet: Sharks -15.5 at 1.84.

Edinburgh v Munster

Friday, 2 December – 21:35

Edinburgh missed an opportunity to pick up a valuable away win last weekend and the pressure is now on them as they welcome an improving Munster to the DAM Health Stadium. They were slight favourites over hosts Benetton, they just couldn’t shift into fourth gear and beyond.

South Africa ‘A’ slayers Munster continued to recover from their horror start with a 24-17 win over Connacht to move up to the ninth position. They’re enticing underdogs but are winless on the road and a top-six side like Edinburgh (fifth) should be able to hold court.

Prediction: Edinburgh by 3. 

Suggested Bet: Edinburgh -2.5 at 1.84.

Stormers v Dragons

Saturday, 3 December – 14:00

The 33-25 scoreline at Ellis Park flattered the Dragons, who commendably didn’t roll over but were never really in the contest in the loss to the Lions.

The young Stormers side played so well in the 36-19 win over the Scarlets that John Dobson will have some unexpected selection posers as his Springboks return from international duty.

The Dragons’ handling was dreadful but much more concerning, their defensive line was paper thin. The defending champions will use their scrum and driving maul to set up a crushing win in their first-ever home game at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after watching the Lions feast in these areas.

Prediction: Stormers by 25. 

Suggested Bet: Stormers -23.5 at 1.84.

Zebre v Glasgow Warriors

Saturday, 3 December- 15:00

The Warriors have been schizophrenic in their first season under Franco Smith. They’ve flip-flopped between wins and losses and followed up complete performances, like thumping Benetton 37-0 just before the break, with limp performances, like the one that resulted in a 40-5 loss to Leinster last weekend.

Zebre went down by 21 away to Ulster last weekend and are the only side still seeking a first win this season. It won’t come here as Glasgow have too much firepower and, due to their inconsistency, they’ll be fully focused on the task at hand, so they won’t underestimate the winless Italians. Rain will play a factor, but I still see the visitors cover the spread.

Prediction: Glasgow Warriors by 14. 

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors -12.5 at 1.86.

Connacht v Benetton

Saturday, 3 December – 17:15

Benetton are on a business trip in Connacht country and their solid 24-17 home win over Edinburgh last weekend, coupled with Connacht’s away loss to Munster by the same scoreline will give the Italian club confidence.

However, in over a decade of going to Galway, they’ve only closed the deal once – a 15-13 triumph back in 2011 – and with little separating the sides, home-ground advantage looks set to be decisive once again.

Prediction: Connacht by 3. 

Suggested Bet: Benetton +9.5 at 1.83.

Bulls v Cardiff

Saturday, 3 December – 20:00

Knowing Jake White, his main message to his troops this week will be to set the tone early. Cardiff are on a high after the historic hiding they gave the Sharks, so the Bulls will focus on snuffing out any hopes the visitors have of another upset by taking control of the contest from the onset.

They have the pack to do just that, the back row to combat the men from the Welsh capital’s breakdown prowess and the backs to keep the scoreboard ticking, so bank on the Bulls to give Cardiff a reality check.

Prediction: Bulls by 16. 

Suggested Bet: Bulls -14.5 at 1.84.

Leinster v Ulster

Saturday, 3 December – 21:35

No quarter will be asked or given in this top-of-the-table Irish derby. Both teams picked up where they left off before the international break to record commanding wins last week, Leinster lashing Glasgow 40-5 and Ulster easing past Zebre (36-15).

Log leaders Leinster not only have the bragging rights of being the last remaining unbeaten team but are also the only side who’ve defeated Ulster this season. Leo Cullen’s charges prevailed 20-13 in Round Three and are eyeing the double at home.

Ulster top a short list of teams who could snap Leinster’s streak and while it should be a hard-fought affair, you have to go with the title favourites at their fortress.

Prediction: Leinster by 5.

Suggested Bet: Ulster+10.5 at 1.83.

Lions v Scarlets

Sunday, 4 December – 13:30

They may be licking their wounds after their 17-point loss to the Stormers, but the Scarlets will look at how the Dragons scored some late tries to come within eight of the Lions as fuel rather than concern about the altitude factor.

The hosts, in turn, are happy to have their first home win under their belt and know they need to work on putting teams away when they have them on the ropes.

It’ll take some slogging from both sides as thunderstorms are likely. This could favour the visitors, as it did Cardiff in Durban, and should see some betting backing for the Scarlets, with the Lions also being guilty of tactical naivety in the past

That said, the Sharks’ humiliation will serve as a lesson for them and the Scarlets’ leaky defence should lead to a Lions win.

Prediction: Lions by 7. 

Suggested Bet: Scarlets +11.5 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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