United Rugby Championship: Top eight closer to taking shape as 11 teams remain in play-off race

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May 09, 2024, 20:37


Now that the Investec Champions Cup semi-finals are in the books, attention turns back to league action where the United Rugby Championship play-off race continues.

11 teams are still mathematically in with a shot at the top eight with only six points between the Stormers in sixth and Lions in 11th. Planet Rugby takes stock before Round 16.

1) Glasgow Warriors (58 pts)

The Scots were beneficiaries of Leinster sending a weakened team for slaughter in South Africa over the last two rounds. Glasgow, however, still had to make it count and they did just that, dispatching Zebre 40-9 last time out. Their hopes of finishing top of the pile hinge almost entirely on their tour of South Africa where they will need at least one victory from the Bulls and Lions games. The obvious goal is to win both but that starts with a difficult Loftus Versfeld visit. Glasgow are almost solely in the fight for the top two.

R16: Bulls v Glasgow Warriors
R17: Lions v Glasgow Warriors
R18: Glasgow Warriors v Zebre

2) Leinster (54 pts)

It is the cost of running deep in two tournaments as Leinster lost both games in South Africa but in turn, booked a spot in the Champions Cup final. They still hold a strong position in the URC and even with Munster close behind could still finish at least in the top two that is if the Bulls don’t do them a favour by beating Glasgow this weekend which could send them back to the summit. Ultimately the gamble of resting their frontline could pay off on both sides, Leinster just need to finish the job at the business end of the regular season.

R16: Leinster v Ospreys
R17: Ulster v Leinster
R18: Leinster v Connacht

3) Munster (53 pts)

Job done for Munster over the last two rounds as they took wins from both Gauteng sides in successive games. The positive tour leaves them with a pretty much guaranteed top four spot meaning a home quarter-final. It also gives them a chance to challenge for the top two. Interestingly all three of their remaining games will have a massive influence on the rest of the play-off picture.

R16: Munster v Connacht
R17: Edinburgh v Munster
R18: Munster v Ulster

4) Bulls (51 pts)

The Pretoria side emphatically responded to a tough loss to Munster by absolutely destroying Ospreys as they put more than 60 points on the Welsh side. Their biggest remaining test comes this weekend against the leaders in a clash that could have huge ramifications in the top four. From there the Bulls will want to close out with wins across the board which will not be a walk in the park. Given the gap to fifth, it is likely the Bulls side should secure a home quarter-final but they will know slipping up is not an option.

R16: Bulls v Glasgow Warriors
R17: Bulls v Benetton
R18: Sharks v Bulls

5) Stormers (45 pts)

The Capetonians simply had to put away a youthful Leinster after losing to Ospreys and that they did. The bonus point win keeps them in a decent position but the table is very tight this season which puts pressure on their tour up north. One would think to challenge the top four they need three wins and two bonus points within that. All the Stormers will be looking to do is keep it clean. Their play-off spot is well within their hands but like every other side, any slip-up will be massively costly.

R16: Dragons v Stormers
R17: Connacht v Stormers
R18: Stormers v Lions

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6) Connacht (44 pts)

The Irish province is a great example of how tight the race to eight is considering they were in ninth on the table before their win over the Dragons last time out. Job done for that fixture but now Munster, the Stormers and Leinster lie in wait. Frankly speaking, it is a brutal run-in to the end of the season but if they can force two results from the three there could still be a chance. They will know the potential of a slippery finish given the match-ups and now is the time to show their mettle.

R16: Munster v Connacht
R17: Connacht v Stormers
R18: Leinster v Connacht

7) Ulster (44 pts)

Ulster just snuck through against Benetton to claim a hugely important win, keeping them in the fight. Next up for the Irish side is the Scarlets and with all due respect to the Welsh side, Ulster should be targeting a bonus point win before the tough finish against Leinster and Munster. Even with a big win this weekend one would think Ulster would still need a result in one of the last two rounds to have a chance.

R16: Scarlets v Ulster
R17: Ulster v Leinster
R18: Munster v Ulster

8) Benetton (44 pts)

It is make or break for Italy’s best side in the next two rounds as they tour South Africa. The Sharks may be lowly on the table but offer a massive threat now they have hit their straps while the Bulls threat is obvious. Benetton cannot lose both and if they do it is unlikely they will make it to the play-offs. It is knockout mode already for the Italians.

R16: Sharks v Benetton
R17: Bulls v Benetton
R18: Benetton v Edinburgh

9) Edinburgh (43 pts)

The men from Scotland’s capital languish just outside the top eight and have a chance to target a bonus point against Zebre this weekend. A full house of points is necessary before a tricky game against Munster. Edinburgh are going to need at least two wins from three to stay in the mix.

R16: Edinburgh v Zebre
R17: Edinburgh v Munster
R18: Benetton v Edinburgh

10) Ospreys (40 pts)

The highs and lows of the sport have been felt by the Welsh of late after the heroics in Cape Town bagged a rare win two rounds ago to being absolutely taken apart by the rampant bulls. What that does is put the Ospreys dangerously close to being out of the play-off picture. Ultimately the team needs to beat Leinster or their chances are over.

R16: Leinster v Ospreys
R17: Ospreys v Dragons
R18: Cardiff v Ospreys

11) Lions (39 pts)

A loss to Munster, spirited or not, takes the Lions just about out of contention. The Johannesburg side is still mathematically within reach but with games against Glasgow and the Stormers looming it would take some effort to qualify. The Lions would probably need two bonus point wins from three victories to make the top eight. It is unlikely but not impossible.

R16: Lions v Cardiff
R17: Lions v Glasgow Warriors
R18: Stormers v Lions

May 10, 2024, 19:30

Dragons  11  WP  10  ....... Halftime

May 10, 2024, 19:32

Stormers trying to force the attack and fumbles chances...they should just relax and play their game...the rest will fall in place...Roos and Gelant having a good match thus far.

May 10, 2024, 19:40

Roos is phenomenal. What a player!

May 10, 2024, 19:43

His chance for the Bokke will come...he must just keep on doing things the way that he's doing...hoping he steps up big time this year.

May 10, 2024, 20:28

WesternProvince  44 - 21  final score

Roos Libbok Gelant.......... lekker lekker

May 10, 2024, 20:29

Lekke indeed...

May 10, 2024, 20:30

Who was MOM...I lost my feed at the final whistle. 

May 10, 2024, 20:35

Gelant was MotM

May 10, 2024, 20:47

Thanks...was between him and Roos for me.

May 10, 2024, 21:25

Roos should be a regular for the Boks from now on.

Very pleased with him this season.

May 15, 2024, 22:49

Booked my tickets for Connacht vs Stormers on Saturday, here's hoping for a good game.

May 15, 2024, 23:28


May 15, 2024, 23:38

Stav, do you live in Galway ?

May 15, 2024, 23:42


May 16, 2024, 07:53

Stav, do you live in Galway ?

No I live just over an hour away from Galway.

May 17, 2024, 14:03

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