Round 5 of the United Rugby Championship sees the four South African sides get the week off after returning home from their four-week European tours. Their Round 5 derby matches – Lions vs Sharks and Stormers vs Bulls – will take place on February 4, 2022, but the rest of the comp goes on this weekend. Here is a look at some of the best-looking clashes from Friday and Saturday in the Northern Hemisphere.
Glasgow Warriors VS Leinster – Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
This is a top-of-the-table clash as second place Leinster (four wins from four matches) travels to Scotland to take on the fourth-placed Glasgow Warriors (three wins and one defeat in four matches). It is a strong-looking Leinster 23 for the last game before the Autumn International break, with the experience of Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong in the front row and an exciting back three of James Lowe, Adam Byrne, and Hugo Keenan. The hosts get British & Irish Lions Ali Price and Zander Fagerson back in their starting XV, but it won’t be enough as the Irish side will have too much and win with the cover of 12.5 at 9/10 with BetXchange.
Zebre VS Edinburgh Rugby – Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi – Parma
It is never easy to travel to Italy but sixth-placed Edinburgh are four-point favorites with BetXchange against Zebre in Parma. Part of this is because the Italian side are rock bottom – they have a -90 points difference after four losses in four games – and Edinburgh will be looking to make up for a defeat in Italy earlier this month as they went down 28-27 against Benetton. Zebre just doesn’t score enough points – they have hit double figures just once this season – and I like Edinburgh to cover comfortably at -4.
Cardiff Blues VS Dragons – Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
A derby in the Welsh regions here as the Dragons travels east to take on the Blues in Cardiff. The two sides are separated by three points and three places in the table – seventh and tenth – and both will fancy their chances of coming away with a win here. Neither side will be close to full strength as Welsh call-ups for the Autumn Internationals will not be released. This means Cardiff will be without 10 players (plus Josh Navidi and his long-term injury – while the Dragons will be missing six members of their pack. A match shorn of star power like Josh Adams, Rhys Priestland, and Ross Moriarty is disappointing, but it will be up to the squad players to make their mark. I like Cardiff to win, but Dragons should sneak a cover at +7.5 (9/10) with BetXchange.
Connacht VS Ulster – Galway Sportsgrounds, Galway
The big three Irish provinces look like the class of the comp so far – at least until the South African sides get their Springboks back – with Ulster, Leinster, and Munster all undefeated after four rounds of play. Ulster top the table having picked up a try bonus in each of their game for a perfect 20 point mark. Connacht has just one win to their three defeats, but their point differential of exactly zero suggests they haven’t been completely outclassed. The line here is -3.5 and while Connacht will keep it close, they will fail to cover against in-form Ulster.