The off week for the URC – because of the Six Nations in the Northern Hemisphere – is the perfect time to play a pair of games rescheduled from Week 6 because of an illness outbreak. That is why we have a weird round with the Sharks hosting Ulster and the Glasow Warriors traveling to take on the Lions with no other matches on the slate.
Here is a look at those games with odds from BetXchange.
Sharks VS Ulster – Kings Park, Durban
This match sees third-placed Ulster travel to Durban to take on the seventh-placed Sharks. The teams are separated by six points on the log, and this is an ideal time for the Sharks to face Ulster, as their Ireland stars will not be available here. Add in that the heat and humidity will not be something that the players are used to – especially in the middle of an Irish February – and it is easy to see why the Sharks are such heavy favorites.
Many have argued the game should have been declared a forfeit immediately in the Sharks’ favor, so expect them to use that edge to come out firing here. This is a game that will test the depth of both teams. February is when the Springboks in the Sharks team will be following their resting protocols, which couldn’t be altered to fit this reschedule.
They will also be without Aphelele Fassi, with the fullback injured against the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend. The injury looked like broken ribs initially but has been downgraded to a rib cartilage issue, but he still misses this one.
It shouldn’t matter. This feels like a game neither team really wants to be playing right now, so take the hosts to win. The line of 9.5 is big, though, so I could see Ulster – a team used to righting adversity – sneak in a late cover.
Lions VS Glasgow Warriors – Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
While Ireland keeps their centrally contracted players with their four provinces, the Scottish Rugby Union has allowed many of its stars to play outside the country at the club level. This means Glasgow and Edinburgh are generally less affected by games during Six Nations’ weekends than their Irish counterparts.
The Lions might not be in a complete meltdown, but they aren’t far away from that. Reports of players doing their own laundry and eating hotdogs in Paris ahead of their Challenge Cup match against Stade Francais speak of a team lacking leadership and direction.
The team is 14th in the league – comfortably the worst South African side – while visitors Glasgow ride high in fourth. This is a game that the Scots will think they can win, catching the Lions at a point of near mutiny with the players seemingly having lost confidence in head coach Ivan van Rooyen and his methods.
Take Glasgow to win and cover as the more polished – and more together – of the two teams facing off in this one.