Cell C Sharks Favourites To Overtake Edinburgh On URC Log


The Cell C Sharks host Edinburgh at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Saturday evening @ 17h05 in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash that has an important bearing on the fight for log positions.

A win over the fifth-placed Edinburgh would see the Cell C Sharks leap-frog the Scottish outfit and take them to within one victory of the top four, all of whom have played an extra game.

But they will be wary of the fact that Edinburgh is undefeated in their last three fixtures against South African opponents. The KwaZulu-Natalians will also look to take advantage of the expected hot and humid Durban conditions after a scrappy patch in which the Scottish side won only two of their five matches so far in 2022.

The Cell C Sharks will be looking to take the momentum of the four bonus-point victories on the trot into this match against a side with a similar record to themselves. Having played 13 games to the Durban side’s 12, both sides have seven wins and a draw, with Edinburgh having lost one extra game. Bonus points are all that separate the two teams currently fifth and sixth on the log.

A fifth straight victory, and in doing so maintaining an outstanding home record at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, would do the team’s aspirations and ambitions absolutely no harm whatsoever.

Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has stuck with the same team as last week aside from two changes.

Springbok Ox Nche is welcomed back after missing last week’s game with his capable replacement Ntuthuko Mchunu reverting to the bench, while the second change at fullback is injury-enforced, Anthony Volmink coming in for Aphelele Fassi who left the field against Zebre last week with an ankle injury.

Everitt has addressed the European rugby focus on set-piece and forward domination with a five-two split on the bench, bringing in Carling Currie Cup captain James Venter to bolster the stocks.

​Edinburgh Rugby welcome back seven Scotland internationalists to their starting XV for tomorrow evening’s United Rugby Championship clash against Cell C Sharks at Hollywoodbets Stadium in Durban @ 17h00

Mark Bennett – who skippers the capital side – James Lang (both centre), Blair Kinghorn (stand-off), Ben Vellacott (scrum-half), Jamie Hodgson (lock), Magnus Bradbury and Hamish Watson (both back-row) all start the first ever meeting of the two sides.

The team selection includes three further changes to the side that faced Glasgow Warriors a week ago as Freddie Owsley makes his second start for the club on the wing, while Boan Venter and Lee-Roy Atalifo form a new front-row pairing.

Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Mike Blair, said: “We’ve really relished our time in South Africa so far and the squad are all buying into what we’re trying to achieve. It’s hot, conditions are tricky and we’re out of our comfort zones but that’s what makes this challenge so exciting. It’s really galvanised the playing group.

“We’re here to do something special. No travelling team has won in South Africa in the URC so far this season and we want to do everything we can to change that. But, in saying that, we’re under no illusion about the task ahead as Sharks are a quality side, with a number of Springboks in their ranks.

“After a long flight and recovery to start the week, we’ve trained excellently and an intensity has been building ahead of tomorrow night’s clash. We’re really proud to represent the city and club on South African soil and the guys are excited for what is going to be a massive test.”

In the back-three, Argentine international Emiliano Boffelli switches to full-back with compatriot Ramiro Moyano and Owsley selected on opposite wings.

Centres Lang and Bennett complete an all-Scotland midfield pairing, while Kinghorn and Vellacott also return from international duty to form an exciting half-back combination.

Hooker Dave Cherry – named vice-captain – packs down alongside props Venter and Atalifo up front, as locks Hodgson and Pierce Phillips complete the tight-five.

With Scotland duo Bradbury and Watson returning at blindside and openside flanker respectively, young back-row Ben Muncaster switches to number 8, following a run of impressive performances for the capital side.

Weather: 22° with 9km/h SSE wind, sunny with 55% humidity.
Prediction: Cell C Sharks by 15


Cell C Sharks: 15. Anthony Volmink, 14. Werner Kok, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Marius Louw, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Grant Williams, 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Henco Venter, 6. Siya Kolisi (c), 5. Reniel Hugo, 4. Gerbrandt Grobler, 3. Thomas du Toit, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Ox Nche. Replacements: 16. Kerron van Vuuren, 17. Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18. Khuta Mchunu, 19. Le Roux Roets, 20. Phepsi Buthelezi, 21. James Venter, 22. Jaden Hendrikse, 23. Boeta Chamberlain.

Edinburgh: 15. Emiliano Boffelli, 14. Ramiro Moyano, 13. Mark Bennett (c), 12. James Lang, 11. Freddie Owsley, 10. Blair Kinghorn, 9. Ben Vellacott, 8. Ben Muncaster, 7. Hamish Watson, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 5. Jamie Hodgson, 4. Pierce Phillips, 3. Lee-Roy Atalifo, 2. Dave Cherry, 1. Boan Venter. Replacements: 16. Adam McBurney, 17. Harrison Courtney, 18. Luan de Bruin, 19. Glen Young, 20. Connor Boyle, 21. Charlie Shiel, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Chris Dean.