We have reached Round 16 of the 2023-24 URC season. That means three rounds are left to decide the eight teams that will face off in the finals. Here is a look ahead at the Round 16 fixtures.

Dragons VS. Stormers – Rodney Parade, Newport

The Stormers have a massive match this week in Wales against the Dragons. With just three games left, you would expect the fifth-placed team on the log to look good for the finals, but just six points cover spots five through 11. The Stormers are only two points ahead of ninth, the first spot that would miss playoff rugby.

They will be happy facing the lowly Dragons, who sit in 15th with just three wins to 12 defeats in the campaign. There is some extra intrigue, with the ex-Stomrmers wing set to make his Dragons debut against his former employers as he suits up for the Newport team on a trial basis.

The Stormers have only lost two of their last nine URC outings but have been poor on the road. Their only two wins away from Cape Town were against fellow South African squads. One issue has been with the Northern Hemisphere weather, but the forecast for Friday is for excellent conditions that will suit the visitors. I expect them to win this going away.

Bulls VS. Glasgow Warriors – Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria

With 51 points from 15 games, it would take a major collapse for the Bulls to fall out of the playoff spots. They host the Glasgow Warriors here, with the Scots trying to finish the season on top of the pile. They are currently at the head of the log, four points better off than mighty Leinster.

The Warriors are hot. They haven’t lost a game this year and are looking for their seventh win on the bounce in the league for the first time since 2019.

Expect this one to be physical. The Bulls bounced back from two defeats to brutalize Ospreys 61-24 last time out. The visiting team has never won this fixture, but I like Glasgow to cover the handicap and get very close to taking down the Bulls in Pretoria.

Sharks VS. Benetton – Kings Park Stadium, Durban

The Sharks will be on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs but they can go out swinging and deal Benetton’s own Top Eight chances a real blow at Kings Park.

The Sharks have four wins and 11 losses on the season to sit 13th, while Benetton is bottom of a three-way logjam for sixth, with Connacht and Ulster all on 44 points.

The big question is if the Sharks are going to take this seriously. Their whole season pivots to their EPCR Challenge Cup Final against Gloucester on May 24th. After beating Clermont Auvergne in a stunner last week, when their set piece wasn’t working at all, the Sharks could easily overlook this match.

This one feels like a toss-up.

Lions VS. Cardiff – Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburg

Cardiff hasn’t won a URC game since just after Christmas, while the Lions in 11th stiffly want to make the playoffs. They are five points outside of those spots right now, and with games against Stormers and Glasgow Warriors to come, this is a must-win.

I think they attack Cardiff with the speed and fluidity we see when they are at their best, and the Lions win this while covering the handicap.


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