United Rugby Championship (URC) – Preview

South African sides will target another strong round in the United Rugby Championship (URC) this weekend after a morale-boosting start to the home leg of the competition last week as the scramble for play-off places intensifies.

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The Bulls host the Scarlets in Pretoria in the opening game of the weekend on Friday night and there are two matches on Saturday between the Lions and Munster in Johannesburg and the Sharks hosting Zebre in Durban.

This weekend’s action rounds of on Sunday in the clash between the Stormers and Cardiff in Cape Town.

Bulls VS Scarlets

Bulls loose-forward Cyle Brink is set to make his United Rugby Championship debut when his side takes on Welsh outfit Scarlets Rugby on Friday night.

The Tshwane-based side have made ten changes to the team that was in action in the Currie Cup on Wednesday and four changes to the victorious team that was in action against Munster the past weekend.

Some of the changes to the team from the match against Munster will see Canan Moodie earning a starting berth at wing and Cornal Hendricks shifting to outside centre where he will form a midfield pairing with Harold Vorster.

Zak Burger returns to the starting XV at scrumhalf while in the forwards Brink will don the No7 jersey.

Argentina international Tomas Lezana returns from injury for the Scarlets second game of their South African tour and he is one of the eight changes to the Scarlets starting XV.

In the back three, Ioan Nicholas replaces the injured Tom Rogers, while a fit-again Ryan Conbeer comes in for Corey Baldwin on the left wing.

Johnny Williams and captain Scott Williams are paired in midfield for the fourth successive week, while Rhys Patchell has been passed fit to start at fly-half and he will partner scrum-half Dane Blacker.

In the front row, Kemsley Mathias gets the nod at loose-head while Javan Sebastian comes in for the injured Samson Lee at tight-head.

Sam Lousi and Jac Price continue at lock, while there is a reshuffle in the back row. Aaron Shingler is named at blindside, Lezana replaces Dan Davis at openside and Blade Thomson switches to No. 8 with Sione Kalamafoni named among the replacements.

Pick: Bulls Wins by 1/10 at BetXchange

Lions VS Munster

The Lions will be without their inspirational leader Jaco Kriel for of their United Rugby Championship match against Munster on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park.

Kriel, who suffered an injury in the 51st minute last Sunday, is the only change to the starting XV named by head coach Ivan van Rooyen for tomorrow’s clash against the Irish outfit.

Inside centre Burger Odendaal takes over the captaincy reigns in the absence of Kriel.

Pick: Munster Wins by 1/1 at BetXchange 

Sharks VS Zebre

Sharks Sean Everitt has made just the one change to the highly performing pack by giving Ntuthuko Mchunu a start after the loss of Springboks star Ox Nche to injury.

Everitt has also made two further changes amongst the backs by handing Grant Williams the scrumhalf jersey and Ben Tapuai coming in for Jeremy Ward at outside centre.

Pick: Munster Wins by 1/1 at BetXchange

Stormers VS Cardiff

Captain Steven Kitshoff returns for the Stormers’ United Rugby Championship clash with Cardiff at DHL Stadium on Sunday to take his place at loosehead prop after being rested last week.

This means Brok Harris shifts across to tighthead and Neethling Fouche among moved to the replacements.

The backline that did duty against Zebre in Stellenbosch last week is unchanged and the only other change sees hooker Chad Solomon come onto the replacements bench in place of the injured Andre-Hugo Venter.

Pick: Stormers Wins by 1/10 at BetXchange