Round 10 of the URC is split over three days. Friday and Saturday see five matches taking place – including the two headlining South African derbies – with a further three matches to be played on Boxing Day. Here is a look at those matches on December 26, with the headliner being the always physical matchup between Munster and Leinster.
Here is a look at the games with odds from BetXchange.
Dragons VS Cardiff – Rodney Parade, Newport
This first game on the 26th sees the 13th-placed Dragons hosting ninth-placed Cardiff in the first of two Welsh derbies on the slate. Cardiff is favored by 5.5 points in this one, and with Wayne Pivac out as the Welsh head coach, it feels like these derbies have more on the line than they usually would.
Players not in favor of the prior regime can stake their claim for Six Nations places, starting here. Thomas Young is one of those players, and he is back from injury to try to emerge from the slew of talented openside flankers in Wales’ ranks. Young has added tackles, linebreaks, and turnovers since joining Cardiff from bankrupt Wapss, with Cardiff leading the completion in turnovers, won with 71 on the year. When you factor in that the Dragons have turned the ball over more than 100 times so far, this will be the difference as the visitors win.
Ospreys VS Scarlets – Swansea.com Stadium, Swansea
This is about as bottom of the log as a matchup can get. Scarlets are 15th on the log with nine points from nine games, five points, and one place behind their hosts in Swansea on Monday. Ospreys are 6.5 point favorites to win and pile more misery yet on Scarlets by opening up a sizeable gap over their rival Welsh region.
It is the defense that has been the issue for both these sides. Scarlets have conceded the second most points in the comp with 279, while Ospreys has fared just slightly better at defending their own line, as their 253 points conceded is the fourth worst in the URC.
Both won in Europe last weekend, with Ospreys’ win over Montpellier in France being the shock of the round and arguably the best win for a Welsh side in European competition in over a decade. It is in the backs where the Ospreys will win this, with their halves combination of Rhys Wenn and Owen Willaims looking lively and entirely in sync last time out.
Munster VS Leinster – Thomond Park, Limerick
The fun thing about derbies is that you can often throw the form guide out of the window. That is what this match feels like with all-conquering Leinster – with nine wins out of nine and 43 total points – taking on Munster. The Munstermen sit outside the playoffs in 10th place, with just four wins and 22 points on the season. Against any other side – even on the road – Leinster would be massive favorites, but the line is just 4.5 points here because of how these two teams play when they face off.
Munster doesn’t score enough – 182 points compared to 299 for Leinster – and they are the worst team in the entire comp in lineout success. Leinster, however, will be without the influential Johnny Sexton at No. 10, despite thoughts he might make a Thomond Park farewell after featuring against Glouster in the Champions Cup.
Leinster’s side is a little experimental, while Munster throws everything at this one. Even so, I expect Leinster to find a way to win, as that is just what this team does.