The United Rugby Championship continues this weekend and we take a look at the games featuring the four South African teams.
Let’s start with a look at the Outright Betting where Leinster remain short priced favourites at 5/10 to win the title. Defending Champions, the Stormers are 8/1, you can get 17/2 Munster, 9/1 the Bulls, 10/1 Ulster and the Sharks. Other teams are priced at 25/1 and better.
Ulster v Stormers – Click here to bet
Ulster are 4th on the table with 11 matches played, resulting in 7 wins and 4 losses. They were most recently in action against Benetton away going down 31-29 and prior to that they lost the home match 14-15 against Munster.
The Stormers are currently 2nd on the log with 8 wins, 2 losses and a draw in their 11 matches. Like Ulster they have been in Heineken Champions Cup action in recent weeks, but going back to their URC form they lost 24-17 on the road to Glasgow Warriors last time out.
The Stormers are not at at full strength here, but they have acquitted themselves well on the road this season and I think they can beat the handicap against an Ulster side short of their Irish internationals.
Handicap: Ulster -9.5
Suggested Bet: Handicap, Stormers +9.5 at 17/20
Scarlets v Blue Bulls – Click here to bet
The Scarlets are currently sitting second from bottom of the table with just 3 wins in 12 matches. They did top their Challenge Cup pool with a full house of victories including beating the Cheetahs 45-26 in Parma last week. Their last URC action was a 28-22 away win over Cardiff.
The Bulls qualified for the last 16 of the Heineken Cup despite going down 31-17 to Lyon in France last week. They currently sit 3rd on the URC log with 8 victories and 4 defeats and on their last visit to Wales they were comfortable 29-14 victors over the Dragons.
This line has moved in the Bulls favour with -4.5 available earlier in the week and it now sits at -7.5.
The Bulls have let me down a lot this season and I am actually leaning towards the home side on the Handicap here.
Handicap: Scarlets +7.5
Suggested Bet: Handicap, Scarlets +7.5 at 10/11
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Edinburgh v Sharks – Click here to bet
Edinburgh are currently 8th on the URC log with 5 victories and 7 defeats. They were very impressive last week when beating the Saracens 20-14 to book their passage into the last 16 in the Heineken Champions Cup. Their last URC match was a 24-17 home win over Zebre.
The Sharks are currently 9th on the log and need to get things going if they are to make the playoffs. They have won 6 and drawn 4 of 10 matches so they do have at least one and in some cases two matches in hand over teams above them.
The Sharks were beaten 29-39 in an exciting match against the Harlequins in the Heineken Cup last week, but they still finished 3rd in their pool and will be at home for their Round of 16 match against Munster. The Sharks last action in the URC was a 24-12 loss to Connacht, a game where they fielded a weakened side.
I expect the Sharks to take advantage of an Edinburgh team missing a number of star players and I am going to back them to win on the board.
Handicap: Edinburgh -1.5
Suggested Bet: Sharks win at 12/10*
*This price is likely to move and I expect the Sharks to start favourites
Connacht v Lions – Click here to bet
Connacht currently sit 11th on the table, 1 position above the Lions who are a point behind them. The Lions though do have a game in hand. Connacht have won 5 of their 12 matches with the Lions winning 5 of their 11 games.
Connacht were playing in the Challenge Cup and finished 5th after a 35-21 defeat at Newcastle last week. Their most recent URC match saw them beat an under-strength Sharks side 24-12 at home.
The Lions managed to secure a home tie in the Challenge Cup when they beat the Dragons 30-25 on the road last week. They gave their supporters nervous moments at the end though having built up a comfortable lead only to let it slip away.
The Lions cannot afford any mistakes in the URC and they certainly will have to improve on their last away trip when they lost 33-3 to Munster.
This is a tough game to call, but I think the Lions team can push this Connacht team close.
Handicap: Connacht -9.5
Suggested Bet: Handicap, Lions +9.5 at 17/20
Note: All prices correct at the time of writing but are subject to change