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United Rugby Championship Predictions – Semi-Finals

The Bulls carry South Africa’s hopes on their shoulders in the United Rugby Championship semi-finals this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

United Rugby Championship

The Bulls carry South Africa’s hopes on their shoulders in the United Rugby Championship semi-finals this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The men from Pretoria are the last South African side standing and will look to punch their ticket to the final when they host mighty Leinster at Loftus Versfeld, while the second of Saturday’s final four fixtures will see defending champions Munster collide with the Glasgow Warriors in Limerick.

Bulls v Leinster

Saturday, 15 June – 16:00

The Bulls and Leinster have become fast enemies since the inception of the URC.

After four meetings, the teams are tied at two wins apiece. However, the Bulls landed the most significant blow in this budding rivalry to date when they stunned the Irish giants 27-26 in the 2021-22 semi-final in Dublin.

Leinster did win the last clash between the sides 47-14 in March to pay back their home fans, but they’ll only fully get revenge if they do unto the Bulls this weekend what the Pretoria outfit did to them two years ago.

The Bulls have an excellent home record this season, with their 30-23 triumph over Benetton last weekend making it 12 wins out of 13 in all competitions. Their lone loss at fortress Loftus was a 27-22 reverse to Munster in April. Yet, they’re entering Saturday’s showdown as the underdogs due to Leinster’s pedigree and unrivalled depth.

Leo Cullen’s charges are also coming off a far more convincing performance than the Bulls, burying Ulster 43-20. Their quarter-final show of force highlighted their ruthless efficiency as well as the extra chip on their shoulder following their knockout blues in both the URC and European Champions Cup over the last three years.

The Bulls, meanwhile, know they’ll have to be much better than they were last weekend if they’re going to turn back the title favourites. As much as they need to improve a few technical issues, such as plugging the holes in defence and sharpening their play in the lineout and at the restarts, they’ll need a change in attitude to get over the line.

Structural issues remain on the defensive end, which is of great concern for them and saw them miss a whopping 25 tackles against Benetton. With that, they were far too passive, gifting the men from Treviso easy metres. That’s where an attitude adjustment is required, to ensure they win the gain line battle, which is paramount against the kings of continuity. Being the underdogs will help in this regard. 

Attack-wise, the Bulls have been brilliant, setting new regular season records for points (639) and tries (85) scored. Yet, they fell in love with offloading and lost shape last weekend. As crucial as a timely offload can be, there’s also overdoing it and the Bulls were guilty of that.

The Bulls are not going to win a shootout against Leinster, especially now that they’ve lost both Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse, two of their top try-scorers. They’ll have to overpower them, which offensively means tucking the ball under their arm and bashing away to soften up and sap the energy of the visitors on the Highveld. It also means using their maul more after they barely utilised this traditional strength last weekend.

Expect the hosts to be suitably fired up and at their physical peak. That, along with home ground advantage, makes it worthwhile to sprinkle a few bucks on the Bulls. That said, defence wins championships/knockout games and I just don’t have the faith in the Bulls’ leaky defence to tip them.

Sadly, from a South African point of view, Leinster should leave Loftus victorious.

Prediction: Leinster by 5.

Suggested Bet: Leinster -4.5 at 1.81.

Munster v Glasgow Warriors

Saturday, 15 June – 19:00

Ireland’s other title contenders and defending champions square off against Scotland’s finest in the other semi-final. 

Munster are on a massive role, their 23-7 victory over the Ospreys last Friday making it 10 wins on the trot. The last time they went on a 10-match winning streak in the same season was when they were crowned Celtic League champions back in 2010-11.

As they showed last time out, Munster marry seamless interplay between forwards and backs with excellent set pieces. Their scrum resembled a steamroller against the Ospreys and should put them on the front foot against the Warriors as well.

Their maul is a strong additional weapon, while they’re ultra-cohesive on defence, with the Ospreys needing a special chip play for their only points. The Warriors will likely try a few dinks of their own, while they’ll likely try a few sneaky pick-and-go attacks up the middle like they did in their 27-10 win over the Stormers last weekend too. 

Furthermore, they compete well in the lineouts and are streetwise at the breakdown. However, they don’t have the hard edge the defending champions do, nor the symmetry. Throw in home ground advantage, which helped Munster win the last meeting between the sides 40-29 back in December, and Tadhg Beirne and company will set up an all-Irish final.

Prediction: Munster by 7.

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors +8.5 at 1.81.

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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