Log positions key as the URC returns to action

Log positions key as the URC returns to action

Securing the best possible positions on the log will be the main driving force when the United Rugby Championship returns to action this weekend as the pressure mounts with only five rounds remaining before the quarter-finals.


The Hollywoodbets Sharks will be the first team to take the field when they meet the Glasgow Warriors in Scotland on Friday, while three matches will play out in South Africa on Saturday, with the Emirates Lions hosting Leinster in Johannesburg, the Vodacom Bulls locking horns with Munster in Pretoria, and the DHL Stormers welcoming Ospreys to Cape Town.


Among the domestic teams, the Bulls are pole position on the standings in third place with 45 points – nine points behind log leaders Leinster – with the fifth-placed Stormers trailing their counterparts by six points, while the Lions are in 11th spot, only one point behind the eighth-placed Ulster, with 34 points. All three sides will have their sights set on finishing in the best position as round 14 concludes this weekend.


The 13th placed Sharks will have their work cut out against Glasgow Warriors, but with the KwaZulu-Natalians high on confidence after qualifying for the EPCR Challenge Cup semi-final this past weekend and on a four-match winning streak they will have a good foundation to build on.


Glasgow, who are currently in second place on the standings, have been in fine form in the competition boasting 10 victories in their 13 matches, and they come off a morale-boosting 45-3 away victory against Scarlets in their last URC clash, meaning the Durbanites will have to produce a top-drawer performance to come away with a win at Scotstoun Stadium.


The visitors’ defence, in particular, will have to be solid as Glasgow are currently third on the list for most points scored, while they have conceded the least number of tries in the competition. The Warriors have scored 365 points to the KwaZulu-Natalians’ 249, while they have conceded only 21 tries, to the Hollywoodbets Sharks’ 37.


Adding to this, Glasgow are still unbeaten at home in the competition this season, which will set the scene for an exciting match-up.


The Lions also face a huge task against log-leaders Leinster, who have only suffered two defeats in the tournament this season to seven by the Johannesburgers, and they will be on a high after qualifying for the Investec Champions Cup semi-final last week.


The visitors’ confidence will be bolstered by the fact that they are the best overall defensive team in the competition with 220 points conceded in their 13 matches, while they also rate as the second-best attacking team with 415 points to the Lions’ 367.


Making Leinster an even bigger threat, they come off four successive URC victories while they are also comfortable on the road with five away-wins in the bag so far.


The Lions suffered a narrow 39-36 defeat in a thriller of a match against Leinster last season in Johannesburg – a result that will undoubtedly motivate them to shrug off the underdog tag. Their determination to finish in the top eight with a quarter-final spot within reach will also certainly fuel their motivation.


The Bulls will be expecting a humdinger against Munster at Loftus Versfeld, especially with only two points separating the teams on the log, but with far superior attack and defensive statistics, the hosts will have extra motivation as they look to keep their unbeaten home record intact.


Munster will be well aware that a victory would see them leapfrog the Pretoria outfit on the table, while they will also be desperate to improve their away record after winning only two matches on the road.


The Stormers will enter their clash against the seventh-placed Ospreys as the favourites in Cape Town, but they will be careful to write off the Welsh side, who only trail them by two log positions and four points.


Looking at the statistics, the match could prove to be a humdinger as the Capetonians have only scored only 26 more points than their rivals in competition so far, while the teams are not far off from one another on defence.


That said, Ospreys will be mindful of the fact that the DHL Stormers have an impressive home record this season of six wins out of six, and with their passionate supporters behind them once again, the visitors will face a big task mentally and physically.


Match information:

Glasgow Warriors v Sharks

Date: Friday, 19 April

Venue: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow

Referee: Federico Vedovelli

SA Time: 20h35


Lions v Leinster

Date: Saturday, 20 April

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi

SA Time: 15h00


Bulls v Munster

Date: Saturday, 20 April

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Adam Jones

SA Time: 17h05



Stormers v Ospreys

Date: Saturday, 20 April

Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town

Referee: Andrew Brace

SA Time: 19h15

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