Sharks look to turn URC fortunes around at home

Sharks look to turn URC fortunes around at home

The Sharks are back in Durban this week with the sole aim to get their Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign back on track, while the other three South African franchises are nearing the end of their early-season tours in the Northern Hemisphere.

Three of the four South African sides take on teams from Ireland as they aim to improve their positions on the log – none of the Stormers, Emirates Lions and  Sharks are currently in the top-eight.

But the Vodacom Bulls – who are at the top of the standings after four rounds – wrap up their tour with a tough match against Edinburgh in the Scottish capital on Friday night.

Honours are even between the two teams, with Edinburgh – who will be boosted by a great victory over Connacht last weekend – winning the first encounter by 17-10 in Scotland two years ago.

Interestingly, two players who scored the bulk of the home team’s points on that day – Jaco van der Walt with three penalty goals and Henry Immelman with a try – have since joined the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria.

Last season, the Vodacom Bulls edged Edinburgh by 33-31 in Pretoria, despite the visitors having outscored their hosts by five tries to four.

At the same time on Friday night, the Emirates Lions take on Ulster in Belfast, a venue where South African teams have yet to win, with the Irish province victorious in all five their previous home encounters against sides from the Republic.

Ulster also won a 10-try thriller in Johannesburg last season – albeit by only two points – while their victory last weekend over the defending champions, Munster, has shown they are serious contenders this season.

On Saturday afternoon, the Sharks welcome Irish side Connacht to Durban, where the hosts will be hoping to record their first win of the season.

It won’t be easy though, as the team from Galway – losing semi-finalists to the Stormers in Cape Town last year – have started the season with three wins on the trot before a last-gasp defeat to Edinburgh last weekend.

The Sharks recorded an easy 41-21 win in Durban over Connacht in the opening season, but the Irish side know what it takes to win in South Africa after they beat the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg last season.

Later on Saturday, in the final match involving a team from South Africa in the fifth round, the Stormers take on Munster in Limerick in a repeat of last season’s final, in which the Irish side ground out a heroic 19-14 victory in Cape Town, only a few weeks after they also won their league clash at Stadium (26-24).

The Stormers’ last visit to Limerick also ended in defeat as they went down 34-18 at Thomond Park, with both Munster’s Springbok locks, RG Snyman and Jean Kleyn, scoring tries on that day.

Neither Snyman nor Kleyn, who played for the Stormers earlier, will be in action on Saturday though. Even without these players, a tough task awaits the Capetonians as they aim to turn their tour fortunes around, having lost 9-20 to Glasgow before going down 17-20 to Benetton in Treviso last weekend.

Other matches this weekend are between Zebre Parma and Cardiff Rugby in Zebre on Friday night, and on Saturday Dragons v Ospreys in Newport, Leinster v Scarlets in Dublin, and Glasgow Warriors v Benetton in Glasgow.

Match information:


Edinburgh Rugby v Vodacom Bulls

Date: Friday, 17 November

Venue: Hive Stadium, Edinburgh

SA Time: 21h35

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)

TV: SuperSport


Ulster v Emirates Lions

Date: Friday, 17 November

Venue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

SA Time: 21h35

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)

TV: SuperSport

 Sharks v Connacht

Date: Saturday, 17 November

Venue:  Kings Park, Durban

SA Time: 17h00

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)

TV: SuperSport

Munster v Stormers

Date: Saturday, 17 November

Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick

SA Time: 19h15

Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

TV: SuperSport

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