This is how the road ahead in the VRK series looks like

Henry

On April 20 and 27, South Africans will get a good taste of what awaits the Springboks when they play against Ireland in two test matches in July.

This is when the Lions (April 20) play Leinster at Ellis Park and the Bulls take on Munster at Loftus Versfeld in the United Rugby Championship (WRC).

The following Saturday (April 27) Munster play the Lions at Ellis Park and the Stormers take on Leinster at the Cape Town Stadium.

In the recent past, Leinster did not send their best teams to South Africa, because they were almost certainly top of the table and really only had to close the bag in two tour matches.

But this season Leinster (39 points) have already lost twice and the Irish powerhouse is just three points ahead of the Glasgow Warriors (36 points), followed by the Bulls (35), Benetton (32) and Edinburgh and the Stormers together on 30 marks.

After the weekend’s games, it is starting to look more and more like three Irish teams (Leinster, Munster and Ulster) together with the Bulls and Stormers, two Scottish teams (Glasgow and Edinburgh) and possibly also Benetton (Italy) will battle it out in the play-offs.

The Lions (24 points) were overtaken by a few overseas teams after Saturday’s defeat against the Bulls, while the Sharks (10 points) are last, but could be the spoilers.

Leinster were very impressive in the second half against Benetton as the team won 47-18, while Munster kicked off the Welsh Scarlets’ howl 42-7 in Llanelli on Friday night.

Ulster can also shake up the charts, because they had to play against the Ospreys (Wales) on Sunday afternoon and can move up to fifth or even fourth.

The Glasgow Warriors were red hot on Saturday evening at Scotstoun when the team beat the Dragons (Wales) 40-7. The Scots thrive more and more under coach Franco Smith and although the Scots can still be a bit thin up front for the Bulls and Stormers (especially in South Africa), they will not be easily beaten in Glasgow.

The fourth Irish team, Connacht, struggled to beat Cardiff (who at one stage had to make do with just 13 players after a red and a yellow card) by 15-12.

This weekend’s results:

Lions 10, Bulls 25;

Sharks 21, Stormers 25;

Cardiff 12, Connacht 16;

Glasgow Warriors 42, Dragons 7;

Scarlets 7, Munster 42;

Zebra 19, Edinburgh 40.