State of the URC: All to play for in final SA derbies

This weekend will see the race for a play-off spot in the URC, with the Sharks taking on the Vodacom Bulls, and the DHL Stormers facing the Lions.

After a historic weekend for the Sharks in European cup action, the South African sides will renew hostilities in the last round of the league phase of the Vodacom URC.

The Sharks became the first team from the Republic to win a Challenge Cup final, as well as book safe passage back to the Champions Cup next season, with a 36-22 win against Gloucester in London on Friday night.

Out of the race for a play-off spot in the URC, John Plumtree’s charges will bring the curtain down on their season when they host the Vodacom Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday afternoon, after the DHL Stormers and Lions cross swords in the Mother City.

The Stormers held off a Lions fightback to win 35-33 at Ellis Park in round 1, while Akker van der Merwe and Stedman Gans scored two tries apiece as the Bulls hammered the Sharks 44-10 on 2 December.

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The SA Shield champion will be determined by this week’s derbies, with the Bulls leading the charge on 20 points, closely followed by the Stormers with 17.

Meanwhile, the results prior to a week’s break in the URC confirmed a top-four finish for the Bulls who, after a bonus-point win against Benetton along with the Glasgow Warriors and Leinster’s defeats, are second on the overall standings and will be playing for top spot when they head to Durban.

It also confirmed play-off as well as Champions Cup qualification for the fifth-placed Stormers, as John Dobson’s men cannot finish lower than seventh, and there could be four SA sides in the 2024-25 edition of the EPCR competition if a series of results fall the Lions’ way this week.

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If Ivan van Rooyen’s troops, currently in ninth spot on the table, pick up a full house of points in Cape Town they will still finish behind the Stormers as they won’t have as many wins as the Capetonians in the event of a tie (currently 11 wins against nine).

But they will lift themselves ahead of the loser between Benetton and Edinburgh, which will give them play-off qualification – and Champions Cup qualification will come their way if Ulster are denied any points by defending champions Munster in Limerick.

Round 17 results:

Edinburgh 26 Munster 29
Zebre 18 Scarlets 32
Bulls 56 Benetton 35
Lions 44 Glasgow Warriors 21
Sharks 14 Cardiff 36
Ospreys 26 Dragons 13
Connacht 12 Stormers 16
Ulster 23 Leinster 21

Round 18 fixtures:

Friday, May 31
Leinster vs Connacht (20:35)
Glasgow vs Zebre (20:35)

Saturday, June 1
Stormers vs Lions (13:45)
Benetton vs Edinburgh (14:00)
Scarlets vs Dragons (16:00)
Sharks vs Bulls (16:10)
Munster vs Ulster (18:15)
Cardiff vs Ospreys (18:15)

The post State of the URC: All to play for in final SA derbies appeared first on SA Rugby magazine.

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