After a couple of weeks of derbies over the festive period, it is time for teams to resume play with clubs from other countries. The four South African teams are once again headed to Europe, with the pick of the round probably being the Stormers trip to Glasgow to face the Warriors.
Here is a look at the games with odds from BetXchange.
Dragons VS Blue Bulls – Rodney Parade, Newport
This is interesting, as it features a couple of teams that are bang out of form. The Dragons defeat at the hands of Scarlets last weekend means they have lost four in a row in the URC and six on the bounce in all competitions. They sit in 13th on the log and are 8.5 point home underdogs against a Bulls side that sits second in the comp. The Bulls have lost four of their last five games (in all comps) away from home so they will be looking for a turnaround in their own fortunes here. I think they win, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Dragons pulled a cover.
Munster VS Lions – Musgrave Park, Cork
Eighth-placed Munster hosts the fifth-placed Lions in Cork on Friday night as huge 16.5-point favorites. Munster have won four of five in this competition and are hitting a nice view of form, with the only defeat in that run being against Leinster. The Lions again failed to beat another South African team as the Stormers put them to the sword last weekend. The Lions have won their last four outside of South Africa – an impressive streak – but that comes to an end here as Munster run out comfortable winners.
Connacht VS Sharks – Galway Sportsgrounds, Galway
The Sharks are 9.5-point underdogs here, with the theory that they haven’t performed well when traveling to Europe. That can be the only reason, as they have won five in a row in all comps, hammering the Bulls 47-20 last time out in Durban. Connacht is coming off of a defeat at the hands of Leinster – just like everyone has this season – so they need to bounce back here. I think they will get it, too, with the SHarks having left pretty much their entire first-choice XV in South Africa to prepare for their Heineken Cup match against Bordeaux next weekend.
Glasgow Warriors VS Stormers – Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
Sixth play second here as the Glasgow Warriors host the Stormers at Scotstoun. It should be a tight, fun match, with the line of 0.5 setting this as a pick ’em contest. The Stormers play the game so differently from anyone else in the comp, using a blitz defense at almost all points on the pitch to pressure their opponents’ decision-making. That line speed should disrupt Glasow, who will look to counter with their turnover game. They are third in the comp with 80 turnovers won, while Stormers are dead last with just 46 because their defensive style sees them contest the gain line instead of the breakdown. I think Stormers win this to keep the pressure on Leinster at the table’s summit.