Round 15 of the 2023 URC season features a couple of South African derbies, with the Stormers and Bulls hosting the Sharks and Lions, respectively.
Here is a look at those games with odds from BetXchange.
Stormers VS Sharks – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
The Stormers are the best-placed South African team on the log, sitting in second place with 54 points from their 14 matches. The Sharks sit seventh at present – in a playoff spot – but they have to keep picking up points, with both Cardiff and Benetton just six points behind them and currently out of the finals mix.
Beating the defending champions on their own turf will be difficult, but it is something the Sharks need to aspire to after going down to Ulster last weekend. It won’t be easy, given that the Stormers picked up a bonus point win in the reverse fixture just three weeks ago.
The Stormers have made six changes to their side, with four of those in the pack as head coach John Dobson works on keeping his troops fresh and firing. Changes in the tight five see Ali Vermaak and Joseph Dweba coming into the front row and Ernst van Rhyn starting at lock.
I think the Stormers win this, but I expect the Sharks to be competitive. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them cover the spread in a narrow defeat.
Bulls VS Lions – Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
A game I don’t expect to be as close sees the sixth-placed Bulls taking on the 12th-placed Lions. The Bulls have 41 points on the season and are poised to make a late run at a home playoff match, while the Lions have just 29 points in what has been a frustrating campaign.
It is all change in the backline for the Stormers, with Morne Steyn and Embrose Papier coming in as a new halves pairing. There are also changes in midfield, with David Kriel moving from 15 to 12 and Cornal Hendricks playing 13 after starting the last game on the wing.
The Lions did pick up a 35-24 win over Glasgow at home last weekend, which will give them confidence here. They have named the same backline from that contest, though a new lock pairing with Willem Alberts and Ruben Schoeman will combine to strengthen the scrum.
The Lions just don’t beat the other South African sides. That will continue here, with the Bulls coming out as comfortable winners.
Edinburgh VS Leinster – DAM Health Stadium, Edinburgh
Runaway league leaders Edinburgh travel to Scotland to face Edinburgh team that sits in 11th place and has been underwhelming this season.
The Scottish team will be bolstered by players released from the national squad, with Hamish Watson, Sam Skinner, and Luke Crosbie looking for game time to impress. They also get Emiliano Boffelli and Stuart McInally back from injury.
Leinster also gets players back during the Six Nations off week, with Jordan Larmour, Jamie Osborne, and Scott Penny returning. It is amazing the experience that the Irish team can call on, given how many players are away with Ireland. Players like Rhys Ruddock and Luke McGrath will power this team forward to a comfortable cover of the spread.