All four home teams/higher seeds held serve in the URC 2021-22 quarterfinals. This means that the semifinals will see two Irish sides take on two teams from South Africa with one game being played on the Emerald Isle and the other in the Rainbow Nation. It should be a thrilling couple of mates.
Here is a look at the matches on tap this weekend with BetXchange.
Leinster VS Blue Bulls – RDS Arena, Dublin
We said in this space last weekend that the Glasgow Warriors had the unenviable task of facing a frustrated and motivated Leinster team. Even with that being said, their 76-14 destruction of Glasgow was something to behold. Leinster came into that one as the 1/12 favorites, the same price they sit at against the Blue Bulls here. They are 20.5-point favorites – paying 9/10 – and the Irish team is a formidable opponent, especially at the RDS Arena.
The Blue Bulls were the smallest winners in the quarterfinals as they beat the Sharks by just three points in Pretoria on a Chris Smith drop-drop goal four minutes after the siren had sounded. It was the type of win that gives momentum, but the Blue Bulls know they will have to be far more clinical to have a shot against Leinster.
Leinster beat the Blue Bulls 31-3 all the way back in Round 1 of the comp at the Aviva. This is a different Bulls’ side, but Leinster has only lost one time in their 11 previous semifinals of the previous iterations of this competition. They are built to be at their best at this time of year and I think they both win and cover here.
Stormers VS Ulster – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
This is a match that – on paper at least – looks to be much closer. The Stormers are a marginal (1.5-point) favorite over the visiting Ulstermen in Cape Town. This is a game that the Irish Province will feel should be taking place in Belfast as on their previous trip to Cape Town back in March they lost in a very controversial fashion. A Callum Reid try that would have won the match was incorrectly ruled as no try by the TMO. If that score had stood, the likelihood is that it would be the South Africans flying to Ireland for this one.
The Stormers will look to build on their 28-17 win over Edinburgh last weekend. It was a game that never felt in doubt, though the Stormers would have preferred to be more convincing winners. Ulster was very impressive in their 36-17 win over Munster in a contest that Munster really thought they could win. Their home form has been outstanding, but traveling could pose an issue.
The Stormers will look to use their exciting backs to win this. They had four selected in the URC Dream team this season and wingers Seabelo Senatla and Leolin Zas have combined for 20 tries on the year. Getting Damian Willemse back at second five-eighth is massive – and unexpected – and he could be the difference-maker here.
I like the Stormers to do enough to win and cover in what should be a fun, open, and exciting match.