All eyes are on the South African contingent as the United Rugby Championship continues this weekend, with all four SA franchises on tour in the Northern Hemisphere.
Italy and Ireland are the destinations on Friday night, as the Bulls go up against Zebre while the Lions take on the almighty task of upsetting Leinster in Dublin.
Saturday sees the in-form Stormers play Connacht in Galway, before the Sharks tackle Benetton.
Zebre vs Bulls
The Bulls are seeking a return to winning ways in the United Rugby Championship, as they head to Europe to take on basement boys Zebre on Friday night.
It’s a change of scenery for Jake White and his team, who attempt to make their mark in Italy off the back of a 22-29 home defeat against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
Three wins are what the Pretoria side have to show for their URC efforts so far, having lost six along the way so far to sit 12th in the table.
Their hosts have endured a miserable season to this point, losing seven from seven to sit stone dead last.
Friday 25 February, kick off 19:30 SAST.
Leinster vs Lions
There’s a feeling of Mission Impossible for the Lions on Friday night, as they head to big boys Leinster in the United Rugby Championship.
It’s a lopsided contest that pits the South African franchise against the Irish beasts who have so far backed up the bookies’ predictions to sit top of the URC standings.
The Lions have won just twice in nine attempts amid a fragmented fixture schedule, losing comprehensively to SA rivals the Stormers on home turf at Ellis Park a fortnight ago.
Their hosts geared up for this one with a comfortable, 29-7 success against the Ospreys in Dublin last weekend.
Friday 25 February, kick off 21:35 SAST.
Connacht vs Stormers
The Galway gales await the Stormers as they hit the road in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday to tackle Connacht.
It’s going to be tough for South Africa’s leading team this season to hit the right note at the Galway Sportsgrounds, with the winds predicted to whip around the exposed venue on Ireland’s west coast.
Quite the change in conditions from the Cape summer, where John Dobson’s charges have put together a much-improved run of form to take them up to eighth in the overall URC standings.
Their hosts sit a point and a place above them having played two more fixtures thanks to the vagaries of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But there’s a good deal to be said for home advantage in this one.
Saturday 26 February, kick off 15:00 SAST.
Benetton vs Sharks
The Sharks polish of South Africa’s mini-tour of the Northern Hemisphere when they go up against Benetton in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday.
Siya Kolisi and Co head to Italy for a midtable contest against the side one place and two points above them in the URC standings.
They came away from Loftus Versfeld with a hard-earned, 29-22 victory over the Bulls two weeks ago.
The home side, who have played a game more than Sean Everitt’s men, lost out 13-3 on the road to high-flying Glasgow Warriors last weekend.
Saturday 26 February, kick off 17:05 SAST.
United Rugby Championship: Predictions
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins are taken from statschatnz.