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URC Friday Preview – Ospreys host Sharks and Ulster welcome Benetton to Kingspan Stadium


Another action pack weekend of United Rugby Championship lies ahead for fans with two matches on Friday, five on Saturday and another one on Sunday.

In the first two rounds South Africans side only managed 1 win out eight matches and will want to get that “W” behind their names now. It was al about adopting to the style of play and the way officials handle in up north but after two rounds of matches there should not be anymore excuses for the franchises to do better.

Here is the current log standings:



The Cell C Sharks moves on this weekend to play Ospreys in their round 3 match. The Sharks are coming off two losses against Munster and Glasgow with Ospreys that are two from two sitting nicely on the number 4th spot on the log.

It was always going to take some time for the South African teams to get into things but after two weeks fans will expect them to start putting some wins together.

The Sharks has said in the week that they have worked hard on being accurate and clinical, something they only managed in patches in the first two rounds. Mistakes gets punished and being able to work your phases will be key not just for the Sharks but all South African teams.

Coach Everitt has made a few changes to his side to face Ospreys this Friday evening. He brought in Ntuthuko Mchunu for Mona and Van Vuuren for Mbatha with Thomas du Toit keeping his place in the front row. Du Toit has also been given the captaincy role for this weekend clash.

The Sharks regular captain Buthelezi will play off the bench this weekend. James Venter, Gerbrandt Grobler and Henco Venter will form the starting loose trio

In the second row, Le Roux Roets gets a break this weekend with Hyron Andres and Ruben van Heerden partnering up.

Ruan Pienaar keeps the number nine jumper as do Boeta Chamberlain but in the midfield Marius Louw will partner with Jeremy Ward. Runs Potgieter will start on the wing and he will form the back three with Thaakir Abrahams and Anthony Volmink.

Ospreys will have their Wales captain back for the first time this season this weekend. Alun Wyn Jones who captained the British & Irish Lions to South Africa will start this weekend with Adam Beard in the second row.

The team will be without Collins and Davies this week. Collins will be out for four weeks after a calf injury he picked up in the last game and Davies will be out with a leg injury.

This match will be live on SuperSport at 20:35


Ospreys: Dan Evans; Mat Protheroe, Tiaan Thomas Wheeler, Owen Watkin, Luke Morgan; Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Webb (capt); Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Griffiths, Jac Morgan, Morgan Morris.

Replacements: Elvis Taione, Gareth Thomas, Tom Botha, Rhys Davies, Ethan Roots, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Stephen Myler, Joe Hawkins .

Sharks: Anthony Volmink; Marnus Potgieter, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Thaakir Abrahams; Boeta Chamberlain, Ruan Pienaar; Ntuthuko Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren, Thomas du Toit (capt), Ruben van Heerden, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Gerbrandt Grobler, Henco Venter.

Replacements: Dan Jooste, Khwezi Mona, Lourens Adriaanse, Le Roux Roets, Phepsi Buthelezi, Dylan Richardson, Sanele Nohamba, Werner Kok.

The second game on Friday sees two unbeaten teams so far clashing at Kingspan Stadium. Both Ulster and Benetton has come away with two wins from the first two rounds of matches in the competition. Benetton came from behind in both their matches to earn wins while Ulster was a bit more clinical on their two wins.

The home side had a runaway against the other Italian outfit, Zebre last week but will face the stringer of the two Italians teams in the competition this Friday.

Benetton came back against the Stormers in week one to start the competition well and last week had a nail bitter against Edinburgh winning it at the end with one points.

This will be Benetton’s hardest test so far and they will be on the road for the first time as well this season when they visit Kingspan Stadium.

Ulster will go into the match as favourites on current form and playing at home which will be a huge advantage but Benetton is no lightweight team.

Ulster Rob Herring will be the 7th player to reach 200 appearances for Ulster on Friday. He will be joined in the front row by Warwick and O’Toole.

The loose trio for this match sees Rea, Timoney and McCann with Sam Carter coming in to partner O’Connor. Carter will also lead the team on Friday.In the back line stayed the same as the one that tarted against Zebre las weekend.


Ulster: Will Addison, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak, Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (captain), Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Ross Kane, Mick Kearney, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham.

Benetton: Rhyno Smith, Ratuva Tavuyara, Marco Zanon, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Sperandio, Leonardo Marin, Callum Braley, Federico Zani, Corniel Els, Ivan Nemer, Irne Herbst, Federico Ruzza, Giovanni Pettinelli, Michele Lamaro (captain), Braam Steyn.

Replacements: Tomas Baravalle, Cherif Traoré, Tiziano Pasquali, Marco Lazzaroni, Sebastian Negri, Lorenzo Cannone, Luca Petrozzi, Luca Morisi.

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