United Rugby Championship

United Rugby Championship Round Four Power Rankings - Changes Aplenty

United Rugby Championship Round Four Power Rankings - Changes Aplenty

United Rugby Championship Round Four Power Rankings - Changes Aplenty as Lions make big jump whilst Leinster remain kingpins.

Oct 10, 2022 by Philip Bendon
United Rugby Championship Round Four Power Rankings - Changes Aplenty

An all-time classic, a few thumping’s and a falling giant, round four of the 2022 United Rugby Championship had it all. 

As the season takes shape, the cream has started to rise to the top whilst other sides have started to take on water quicker than a camel at the watering hole. 

So let’s take a look at who is coming out hot and who is ice cold so far this season.


1. Leinster

Beating a previously undefeated Sharks by twenty points was a serious statement by the Dubliners who didn’t have it all their own way at the RDS. For large portions of the fixture the Sharks were well in the contest. Such is the quality of this Leinster side that as soon as the visitors blinked, they were punished as Leo Cullen’s side remains undefeated. Both sides were without several world class players making their second fixture later in the season a tantalising prospect. 


2. DHL Stormers

The champions keep rolling as they shook off a pesky Zebre side to come away with a comfortable 37 – 20 win to get their tour off to a flyer. Manni Libbok has grown into a real talent at flyhalf as he comfortably pulls the strings for the leathal Stormers attacking game. On Libbok’s outside the creative spark of breakthrough star Sacha Mngomezulu and Springbok Damien Willemse are a nightmare for opposition defences. In the forward pack, the Stormers are dynamic and get around the park with pace and power that is hard to live with.


3. Ulster

Ever so slightly trailing behind Leinster, Ulster continue to be a real threat and will only get stronger as several of their star players return from the Emerging Ireland tour. Beating the Ospreys by thirty points was the perfect response to their narrow loss to Leinster the week before. John Cooney is once again playing out of his skin and should be a contender for a place in the Irish squad for November.


4. Emirates Lions

Simply brilliant all tour long, the Lions have proven they are not the little brothers to the rest of the South African sides. Picking up three wins from three away from home sets them up beautifully for a stretch on home soil that could see them rise further into the play-off positions. Uncovering the gem that is 19-year-old Ruan Venter who is already a man amongst boys gives the Lions pack a true enforcer capable of  striking fear into opposition ball carriers and tacklers alike. 


5.Cell C Sharks

 Losing to Leinster is no slight on any side and to be honest the Sharks were right in this fixture for a long period of time. Ultimately ill-discipline and a lack of focus for a 15-minute period cost them what would have been a marquee win. Now set to welcome back a raft of Springbok stars the Sharks will bounce back upon their return home and remain a threat. 


6. Benetton Treviso

Bravissimo Benetton! Another dominant win over Welsh opposition makes it three wins from four for Marco Bortolami’s men in 2022. Playing a well-balanced, clinical and entertaining brand of rugby is serving the Italians well so far this season. Keep this up and they will be playing post-season rugby as well as joining the big boys in the Heineken Champions Cup next season.


7. Vodacom Bulls

Disappointing is the only way to sum up the Bulls first game on tour. Jake White’s side didn’t look like they got off the bus as Glasgow dominated from the start. No need to overreact just yet as it was the first game in the northern hemisphere and Glasgow are a tough out on their home patch. Next up are a struggling Munster side in Limerick in what is now a do-or-die contest for the Irish giants. The Bulls will be looking to play spoiler and sink Munster further.


8. Glasgow Warriors

A great result for the Glaswegians who look invincible at home. Issues on the road remain as they travel to South Africa to take on a Sharks side that should be welcoming back a host of Springboks. George Horne looked lively once again at scrumhalf as he keeps Ali Price on the bench for the time being. Dominating a physical Bulls pack proves that Glasgow have the ability to front up but just haven’t proven that they can do it regularly.

9. Edinburgh 

A narrow loss to an in-form Lions side having just returned from a tough tour in South Africa doesn’t make Edinburgh a bad side. Right now, their record is worse than their play, next up is Benetton who have proven to be a real challenge for most sides this season. At home for another week and in a must win scenario, Edinburgh will show whether they are play-off contenders or lookers on.


10. Zebre Parma 

Not really a threat to the champions losing by seventeen points, Zebre still have the feel of a squad learning to win. They continue to show a marked improvement on last season and will certainly pick up a few wins but are still not at a point where they can compete with the top sides in the league. 

11. Connacht

Beating Munster brings much needed relief to Andy Friend’s side but is  ultimately papering over the cracks of a somewhat average side. The schedule makers did Connacht no favours with their early season draw coming exclusively against sides who should be in the play-offs. Next week is Leinster at home in a game they once again enter as heavy underdogs.   

12. Dragons

Two steps forward one step back is the mantra for this Dragons side. Back-back strong performances against Munster and the Sharks have been followed up by a dire outing away to Benetton. Never really in the contest outside of a late fightback, Dai Flanagan’s side are still developing. On a par with the other Welsh sides, the Dragons should target being top of the Welsh to try and secure a Heineken Champions Cup spot. 

13. Cardiff

Finally, some positivity for Cardiff who have been battling issues both on and off the field. Perhaps slightly fortuitous to come away with a win thanks in part to a boneheaded play by the Scarlets Vaea Fifita, Cardiff took crucial points in a derby fixture. Dai Young’s side remain unimpressive and don’t seem to have quite sussed out their style of play as of yet.  

14. Scarlets 

 Devastating, that sums up round four for the Scarlets. Losing a derby is tough but not really firing a shot makes things even worse. Vaea Fifita’s silly red card with three minutes to go with the Scarlets battering the Cardiff try line summed up their day.  

15. Munster 

Certainly, the most disappointing team in the league at the moment. Munster look lost. Lacking any real identity, the grittiness or sense of a game plan, Graham Rowntree’s men look unlikely to be playing in the play-offs or featuring in the Champions Cup next season. The quality of players at the top level is still good but they are aging and the group just below them don’t look capable of competing at this level. Below the intermediate group are some very talented youngsters who appear to be a year or two away from being real first team options. The returning players from the Emerging Ireland tour should help but if they lose to the Bulls in Limerick there could be sweeping changes incoming.

16. Ospreys 

Abysmal, the Ospreys just can’t seem to string two good games together. Ulster severely outclassed, overpowered and out thought Toby Booth’s side in a lopsided affair. Next up are the Stormers where they could be in for yet another ugly thumping.

Written by Philip Bendon