United Rugby Championships: Round 2 Power Rankings

United Rugby Championships: Round 2 Power Rankings

See the United Rugby Championships Round 2 Power Rankings, while reading about a new No. 1 team and the former powerhouse that took a big dive.

Sep 26, 2022 by RugbyPass
United Rugby Championships: Round 2 Power Rankings

Round 2 of the URC 2022 produced yet another batch of fascinating rugby clashes.

Returning champions, the Stormers, looked every bit as powerful as last season, while Ulster laid down the gauntlet to other title contenders.

Some sides found the going tough, as the league continues to get more competitive across the board in its second season.  

Let’s jump in and see how the teams shake out.

1. Ulster 

Simply magnificent, scoring 50+ points against anyone is tough, but to go on the road and do so against the Scarlets is an incredible feat. 

John Cooney’s personal haul of 30 points again raises questions as to why he no longer is involved with the Irish national set up. 

One area of concern was the Ulster defense, which leaked 39 points. As Cooney noted post-match, they will need to tidy this up ahead of next week’s giant clash with Leinster. 

2. Leinster 

Only dropping in the rankings due to Ulster’s brilliance, Leinster’s 42-10 win over Benetton highlighted just how good the Leo Cullen’s side is this season. 

Without ever really getting out of second gear, Leinster beat a Benetton side that played well enough to beat at least half of the teams in the league. 

Four tries to hooker Dan Sheehan was mesmerizing and highlighted why he is Ireland’s first choice in the position ahead of his clubmate and fellow star Ronan Kelleher. 

In a weird twist, Leinster is a victim of their own success, making excellence look ordinary they don’t get the plaudits they deserve.

3. DHL Stormers

A triumphant return for the champions as they saw off Connacht 38-15. 

In this instance, the scoreboard is rather misleading. Connacht was right in this contest, until Bundee Aki’s silyl red card midway through the second half. 

Mannie Libbok and Evan Roos both were impervious in this clash, as they picked up where they left off last season. 

As highlighted in our preview piece, taking the fixture to the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch was a masterstroke, as the atmosphere in the stands was electric. Simply put, it was a rather solid first outing for the champions.

4. Blue Bulls 

What a scare for Jake White’s men, as they relied on Bok legend, Morne Steyn, to dig them out of what would’ve been a shock loss. 

Edinburgh gave them all they could handle in what was a sensational game of rugby. Key point here, winning close is better than losing close. 

Still awaiting the return of several Springbok stars, the Bulls will continue to get better. 

Sitting pretty in third, just behind Ulster and Leinster, with a clash against a struggling Connacht up next, the Bulls could well be sitting in first place next week as the top sides square off in Belfast.

5. Edinburgh 

Impressive is the only way to describe Edinburgh’s start to the season. A dominant win in Round 1 was backed up by a hard-fought two-point loss in Round 2. 

Edinburgh came within inches of a famous victory, as Henry Immelman’s penalty kick fell just short as time expired. 

Scoring five tries against the physical Bulls defense was an impressive showing and should give Mike Blair's side plenty of confidence ahead of its clash with the Stormers next week.

6. Cell C Sharks 

Starting like a house on fire, the Sharks raced out to an 18-point halftime lead and looked to be the most dangerous side in the league. Strangely, however, they switched off for long periods in the second half, and Zebre once again proved to be the comeback kids. 

In a similar vein to the Bulls, a win is a win, and the final score of 42-37 will give Sean Everitt and his coaching staff plenty to work on ahead of Round 3.

7. Zebre Parma 

The biggest risers this week, climbing three spots following a ding-dong battle with a powerful Sharks side in Parma. 

Falling into a deep hole early on, Zebre could’ve been forgiven for going into their shells. Instead, they took on their fancied opponents with flair, skill and a devil-may-care attitude.

While they fell just short once again, their approach and play does not warrant the 0 -2 record they have. 

Round 3 presents what would’ve been considered a very tough assignment prior to the season, as they travel to take on Munster. No doubt, Zebre has played the better rugby and has a real chance.  

8. Emirates Lions 

A great result for this burgeoning Lions squad, heading to Swansea to take on a very experienced Ospreys was a tough assignment. 

Emerging with a well-earned one-point win was just rewards for the men from Johannesburg. 

Tenacity was the key to victory here. Digging themselves out of an 11-point hole is a testament to the spirit of this squad. 

Emerging from this result was an immensely exciting halfback combination of Gianni Lombard and Sanele Nohamba. Scrumhalf Nohamba, in particular, looks like one to watch as his pace off the mark is elite, while his pacing game is sublime.

9. Glasgow Warriors

Much better from Franco Smith’s men, it appeared as though a switch was flipped, as Glasgow ran Cardiff ragged. 

Leading the way was scrumhalf George Horn, who was instrumental in everything positive Glasgow did throughout the match. 

A key development for the Warriors was the power of their forwards, who got on top early, after having been dominated by Benetton in Round 1. 

It's still early, but the grey cloud surrounding the club has subsided significantly.

10. Scarlets

How do you sum up the Scarlets? 

In any other fixture, scoring 39 points would indicate a big win. Not so for Dwayne Peel’s men, who managed to concede 55 points in a fixture where defense was optional. 

Fly-half Sam Costelow continued his development, going toe-to-toe with Ulster’s Billy Burns in impressive fashion. Costelow was yellow carded, which was really his only blemish of the clash. 

Ultimately, the first two rounds have shown the Scarlets can score points. Defensively though, they are soft. This simply won’t fly against the South African sides, and as Ulster proved, nor will it work against the top Irish teams. 

11. Benetton Treviso

Despite coming out on the wrong side of the result, Benetton didn’t really do much wrong. 

Unfortunately for them, they are playing against one of the very best sides in world rugby. 

Leinster is a well-oiled machine capable of making any opposition look average when they start clicking. 

Benetton never gave in, but to be frank, lacked the clinical edge needed to challenge the Leinster defense. 

Marco Bortolami’s side is improving, and unlike past seasons, looks capable of mixing it with most teams, rather than being beaten out of the gates. 

12. Dragons

A much-needed win for a side that hadn’t won at home for over 500 days…. 

The biggest takeaway from this fixture was winger Rio Dyer, who torched Munster with a brilliant solo try. His all-round game seems to have come on leaps and bounds, which is a great development in a World Cup year. 

Former Munster player JJ Hanrahan has given the Dragons a proper conductor in the fly-half berth, which certainly has given them more direction this season. 

13. Ospreys

A one-point loss to the Lions was a disappointing return for the Ospreys. 

In control for much of the fixture, they let an 11-point lead slip, without really firing a shot. 

Quality of player is not an issue for the Ospreys, but consistency certainly is. 

14. Munster 

Shockingly bad, no two ways about it. 

Graham Rowntree’s career as Munster boss has gotten off to the worst possible start with back-to-back losses to sides they ordinarily would see off with relative ease. 

Passive in defense, sloppy in attack and continually involved in off-the-ball incidents, this is not a vintage Munster side at the moment. 

Time is on their side but the emerging Ireland tour to South Africa will see them missing several key young players over the next few weeks.

15. Cardiff Blues

A rollercoaster of emotions, the high of Round 1's win over Munster has been offset by the pummeling the team received at the hands of Glasgow. 

Without Faletau or Williams, this Cardiff team is a very average side. 

Next up is a Lions team with its tails up, but winning this weekend will be a major challenge for Cardiff.

16. Connacht

Hands down the most disappointing team through the first two rounds. 

Round 1 was ugly for performance reasons. Round 2 was ugly for an individual incident. 

Playing away against the champions, Connacht was giving a good account of themselves and remained in touch deep into the second half. This was, of course, until Bundee Aki’s rather absent-minded clean out attempted that resulted in a red card. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the experienced center's outburst at the referee won’t help his cause with the citing commissioner.

Written by Philip Bendon