Derby Delights in the URC

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This time of year always throws up plenty of derby action and the United Rugby Championship promises drama over the weekend with local pride at stake.

Justin Tipuric

Unfortunately, the fixture list for the opening weekend of 2022 has again been hampered but there is still plenty to enjoy.

No Games, No Problem for Scarlets

You need to look back to October 22nd for Scarlets’ last competitive game, beating Benetton 34-28, while Ospreys have also seen their last three matches postponed.

Both should be able to field strong sides and Ospreys are going well in the table, currently leading the Welsh conference and sitting fourth overall.

A win in Llanelli is tempting at 9/5 but it was Scarlets who dominated in winning their last meeting 22-6 in the Rainbow Cup in May, having previously edged home as the 16-14 heroes during the Pro 14.

Despite their lack of competitive action, Dwayne Peel’s men are a star-studded bunch and will be raring to go against a side they seem to have the edge on.

A home win with a -5.5 handicap is 20/21 could be feasible, depending on the fitness of both clubs.

Connacht Can Cause an Upset

Both Ulster and Leinster have fallen victim to the ongoing global issues and after missing out on Boxing Day, will again be unable to take the field on Saturday.

Therefore, rivals Connacht and Munster can make up ground in the battle for the Irish Shield.

Hosts Connacht were down to face Ulster on Boxing Day but saw that match postponed, the same fate that befouled Munster’s clash with Leinster.

The two-time European champions now have a couple of games in hand on their rivals and come into this match-up with relative confidence, having doubled-up in the Champions Cup with wins over Wasps and Castres.

However, they have had injuries as well as illness in the camp, including fly-half Joey Carbery, and are still missing big names ahead of their trip to Galway.

Connacht came as close as anyone has this season to beating a rampant Leicester in the Champions Cup, a week after having outclassed Stade Francais 36-9 in the type of conditions that have made the Sportsground so famous.

Having narrowly missed out 20-18 at Thomond Park in October courtesy of Diarmuid Barron’s converted late score, a home win at 6/4 may not be too far away.

Benetton Likely to Double Up

Onto Sunday and the 1872 Cup was set to be the headline act, but Edinburgh and Glasgow have again seen their festive battle bite the dust.

However, there is an Italian derby as Benetton Treviso host Zebre, nine days after meeting in Parma.

Benetton took a bonus point 39-14 win in that match and will fancy themselves to kick on against their neighbours.

Zebre did the double in this rivalry last season in the Pro 14 but it was Benetton who came out on top in both of their Rainbow Cup ties earlier in the year.

Michael Bradley’s side have continued to struggle, taking just a single point so far this term and sit rock bottom of the URC standings.

A first win of the season looks unlikely, with Benetton just 1/15 in the betting. In fact, considering their 25 point win last Friday, the -17.5 handicap on a home victory looks beatable at 25/26.

*All odds correct at time of writing

The first choice in any quiz team, Jack is your man for stats, facts and information across a wide range of different sports. As well as a vast knowledge of football, he specialises in cycling, rugby and tennis amongst a number of other sports.
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