Round 12 is another split round in the Ultimate Rugby Championship as the two South African derbies took place last weekend. Those games saw wins for the Stormers in Johannesburg over the Lions 32-10 and for the Sharks on their travels in Pretoria over the Bulls 29-22. The European section of the round is played this weekend and with no Six Nations matches on tap this will be the main rugby focus of the continent over the next few days.
Here is a look at the matches.
Munster VS Edinburgh – Thomond Park, Limerick
Munster stalwart Dave Kilcoyne will pick up his 200th cap for the province on Friday when he runs out as the 12th player to reach the milestone. He is one of four changes to the team that played against Glasgow last time out, with Craig Casey, Dan Goggin, and Calvin nash all returning to the starting XV. Munster will look for exciting back three players Mike Haley at 15 and Simon Zebo on the wing to provide the spark for their attack.
Edinburgh will have four players returning from the Scotland camp to add to their lineup. Stand-off Blair Kinghorn is the most notable of the bunch, with center Mark Bennett, scrum-half Ben Vellacott, and back-rower Nick Haining completing the quartet. They are currently without 19 players – including the lines of Hamish Watson, Darcy Graham, and Luan de Bruin – through a combination of international callups and injury. The Scots are missing too much here. Take Munster -8 at 9/10 with BetXchange.
Scarlets VS Connacht – Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Scarlets get back just one player from the Welsh squad after Kieran Hardy was one of six players returned by the national team to their club sides this weekend. He will slot straight in at No. 9 and provide a dynamic threat that Connacht will have to contain around the breakdown.
Connacht has far more firepower coming back into their side. Tom Farrell, Jack Aungier, Greg McGrath, and Peter O’Sullivan are all back and available for selection. These players are in addition to Jack Carty and Dave Heffernan, both released by Ireland for this weekend. Carty is the most interesting player here and he will be looking to show what he can do in the outside-half position after playing for just 90 seconds at the end of the game against France last weekend. I like Connacht to have too much here and win outright at 12/10 with BetXchange.
Dragons VS Ulster – Rodney Parade, Newport
Another clash between the Welsh and Irish sides in Wales this weekend sees Ulster travel to Newport to take on the Dragons.
Ulster get back six players from the Ireland squad as Ireland head coach Andy Farrell helped to stock the provinces for this round of the URC. Add in five players returning from injury and Ulster will have the likes of James Hume, Tom O’Toole, and Cormac Izuchukwu back in contention for this one.
Ulster is currently top of the table with 36 points from 10 games and will expect to be able to handle the lowly Dragons who are 15th out of 16 teams with just 11 points from eight matches played. The Dragons have none of their Welsh stars returning, shearing them of the likes of Ross Moriarty, Adam Wainwright, and Will Rowlands. This one will be Ulster by double-digits so take them at -8.5 at 9/10 with BetXchange.