United Rugby Championship

United Rugby Championship Round Five Preview And Predictions

United Rugby Championship Round Five Preview And Predictions

Fasten your seatbelts everybody, round five of the 2022 United Rugby Championship is about to get underway. URC Round Five Preview & .

Oct 14, 2022 by Philip Bendon
United Rugby Championship Round Five Preview And Predictions

Fasten your seatbelts everybody, round five of the 2022 United Rugby Championship is about to get underway.

Kicking off the weekend’s action is a titanic Irish derby with far reaching consequences for Connacht who play host to Leinster in Galway.  

Whilst the Irish West Coast hosts it’s second derby game in a row, the reigning champions begin their mini tour of Wales in what could be a real statement game. 

Rounding out the action is what we are calling a “wounded animal” game where both sides need to come out swinging to avoid their seasons getting away from them.

What does all of this mean? Well in truth it means that the URC has gone from the floundering Pro 14 into one of the most exciting leagues in the game! And where might you find all of the action do we hear you ask? Well right here on Flo Rugby! So sit back and enjoy another weekend of end-to-end URC action.


Big Guns Return As Sharks Title Run Begins In Earnest

With their first northern hemisphere tour of the season in the bag, the Sharks return home to Durban for a run of games in the republic. Home advantage is great but welcoming back half of the Springbok team is almost unfair! Starting this week, Sean Everitt’s side will begin sprinkling in their international superstars in a rather frightening development for the rest of the league. Headlining the team sheet this week is Bok centurion Eben Etzebeth who makes his Shark’s debut having returned from his time playing for Toulon in the Top 14. Joining Etzebeth in the starting line-up is halfback Jaden Hendrikse whilst on the bench Bok captain Siya Kolisi, Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Makazole Mapimpi. Last week’s loss in Dublin will sting as the Sharks were very much in the contest for long periods before falling off towards the end. Returning their Bok players should help avoid these sorts of slip ups in the future. 


Munster Broken? Or Simply In A Slump?

Two-time European Champions Munster have got off to perhaps their worst season start in history. Opening with back-to-back losses before an unimpressive and simply dour win in round three before reverting to another poor lose in round four. The harsh truth is Munster look lost, unfit and lacking their famous ‘doggedness’. Outside of Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne, Graham Rowntree’s side haven’t looked cut out for the level of competition they have faced which is worrying considering they haven’t faced any contenders as of yet. That all changes this weekend as they get set to welcome the Bulls who are coming into the fixture with their own issues following an unexpected thumping in round four. The Emerging Ireland tour looks to have hit Munster the heaviest out of the Irish provinces with ten players away for the start of the season. Despite this there is no way they should’ve been this poor; they look unsure of themselves in terms of what their game plan should be achieving. This is undoubtedly worrying for Rowntree and his coaching staff but should not be completely unexpected. Whilst Munster are certainly not Ireland, it is worth bearing in mind the growing pains the national experienced as they transitioned from the Joe Schmidt era to the Andy Farrell era. The same could now be happening as Munster move away from the boring, trudged but effective Johan van Graan style of play. To achieve the more expansive game plan they desire but can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Their forward play has not laid the platform of previous seasons and as such a compromise needs to be struck between the two styles. Some pragmaticism is needed to simplify the game plan whilst developing the new structures. What does this mean? Well in summation, Munster need to revert back to some of their basics of winning quick ruck ball, dominating the tackle area and then look to play wider. Can they do it? Only time will tell but this weekend provides an acid test.


A Changing Of The Guard In Welsh Rugby

Welsh club Rugby is at perhaps its lowest ebb which for those who have followed it is not surprising. Years of reported infighting, mismanagement and their top talent heading to other leagues has drained the once competitive regions. Widespread changes are incoming for the structure of the Welsh club game; these will be interesting to follow with several different ideas being floated about. For the here and now, it might surprise many that a team sitting in the 13th position might well have the brightest future. The Dragons are building around a nucleus of talented young players who have yet to hit their peak and should continue to develop throughout the season. Taine Basham is a twenty-two-year-old star on the rise whilst his backrow buddy Aaron Wainwright has established himself as a bonified Welsh test player. Rounding out the three, Ross Moriarty is remarkably still only twenty-years-old and already has over fifty test caps. These three are the backbone of the Dragons for the future and the present. In the backline, Rio Dyer is an electric winger who offers a real attacking threat to build a game plan around. Pulling the strings is JJ Hanrahan who whilst on the back nine of his career could prove to be the perfect mentor for this young Dragons side. This weekend’s clash with Cardiff is an opportunity to put a Welsh rival to the sword and being the establishment of the Dragons as the next Welsh contender going forward.



Ospreys vs Stormers

Another tough outing awaits the Ospreys as they welcome the reigning champions to the Liberty Stadium. Certainly not firing on all cylinders, the Welsh side will struggle to contain a Springbok laden and undefeated Stormers side. Stormers by 12. 

Connacht vs Leinster 

Picking up a win over a struggling Munster will have given Connacht some confidence last weekend. The reality is they still played poorly but Munster were worse. Leinster on the flipside got through their first major challenge of the season as they comfortably saw of the Sharks in what will be a game of the year contender. The Leinster machine just keeps rolling with a number of Irish internationals returning having been rotated last week. Most notably Tadhg Furlong makes his first appearance of the season in a move that will cause Connacht plenty of headaches. Leinster by 15.

Lions vs Ulster

The toughest game of the week to call, both sides have been sensational in the early part of the season with just one loss each. Ulster’s lone blemish is a close loss to Leinster whilst the Lions lost their opener to the Bulls before winning all three of their games on tour. Both sides have made several changes for this clash as Ulster link up with their Emerging Ireland players. A tough one to call but Ulster just feel like they are a bit further down the road in terms of their development and as such will pick up a valuable win. Ulster by 2. 

Sharks vs Glasgow Warriors

As noted above the Sharks are bringing back a number of heavy hitters for this round. Glasgow for their part have been brilliant at home but have been a lame duck on the road this season. The Sharks might start slowly but will ultimately come away with a strong win. Sharks by 20.

Cardiff vs Dragons 

The Dragons have been touched upon above. Cardiff picked up a much-needed win over the Scarlets without looking all that impressive. The changing of the guard begins now as the Dragons head to the capital and pick up a statement win to go with their early season victory over Munster. Dragons by 3.

Edinburgh vs Benetton

On paper this could well be the game of the week with two sides who have played some brilliant heads-up rugby so far this season. Benetton’s step forward this year is a huge boost for Italian Rugby and also the league as a whole. Edinburgh whilst they currently sit with one win are better than their record suggests. In a ding dong battle, the Scots will pick up a good win at home to get their season back on track. Edinburgh by 9.

Scarlets vs Zebre

Two teams seemingly on different trajectories. The Scarlets are five seasons removed from a finals appearance but have since taken a major step back whilst Zebre have begun their climb as a truly frisky team in the league. Neither side has picked up a win thus far this season so getting off the mark is a huge goal for both. A win in Wales would be a statement for Zebre and is not impossible. Whilst the sides are going in different directions, Scarlets should still have just enough fire power to get the win. Scarlets by 6.

Munster vs Bulls

Munster’s plights have been touched upon in the above segment. For Jake White’s Bulls last week’s shellacking at the hands of Glasgow was a real shock to everyone around the league. Without beating around the bush, the Bulls didn’t look up for the game and offered very little. Their trademark power game did nothing to Glasgow whilst their backline was by and large nullified without their usual front foot ball. Travelling to Limerick is historically one of the toughest prospects in world rugby, less so now with the form that Munster find them in. On the flipside of this, Munster cannot afford to have another no show, especially in front of their home supporters. This will be a slug fest from the off and will ultimately go down to the wire, based purely on desperation it is hard to see Munster slip up again. Munster by 2 (but I am not confident).