VRC series: This is how things stand after 13 weeks

Henry

There are several pillars on which success in the United Rugby Championships (URC) is built, such as resting and rotating players, home field advantage, consistency and collecting bonus points when a team plays away from home.

Almost all the teams that played at home had victories this past weekend.

One of the big highlights was the Glasgow Warriors who won away from home on Saturday night when they overwhelmed the Scarlets in Llanelli 45 – 3.

Glasgow’s win, the first in eight seasons in Llanelli, was in addition to Leinster’s strong performance when they beat the Bulls 47-14 in Dublin on Friday night, the most impressive.

There was only one real surprise when the Ospreys won 36 – 21 over the Lions in Swansea.

The Lions, who made history last weekend by beating Connacht for the first time in Galway, failed to pick up any bonus points and this could prove costly going forward.

Leinster (54 points) still lead the series after 13 games, followed by the Glasgow Warriors (49), Bulls (45), Munster (43), Stormers (39), Benetton (37), Ospreys (35) and Edinburgh (34), Connacht and the Lions all on 34 points.

These 11 teams are in all likelihood chasing eight places for the play-offs, because Cardiff (24), Sharks (18), Scarlets (16), Dragons (15) and Zebre (15) are too far behind.

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting as all the teams have to decide their focus between the HRC, European Cup and Challenge Cup series.

What was also informative is the role that former Bok coach Jacques Nienaber plays at Leinster. Leinster surprisingly selected some of its best players, such as Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong and Caelan Doris, on the substitutes’ bench and sent them on in the second half.

It reminded a lot of the Springboks’ “Bomb Squad”… and it led to the Bulls being pulled by the throat.

Glasgow, who are coached by Franco Smith, scored six tries in Llanneli, as well as a penalty try.

Glasgow have yet to tour South Africa where they play against Bulls and Lions and the Scots’ depth will certainly be under the magnifying glass.

Apart from Leinster, Munster also came to the fore when they beat Cardiff 20 – 15 in Limerick.

Munster will soon also tour South Africa where they will play against the Bulls and Lions and their depth will likewise be tested.

Benetton flew the Italian flag when the Italians beat Connacht 18 – 14, but there are a few obstacles waiting for the team when they play away from home against the Sharks and Bulls.

Weekend results:

Friday: Ulster 47, Bulls 14; Dragons 20, Zebras 13.

Saturday: Benetton 18, Connacht 14; Sharks 23, Edinburgh 13; Ospreys 36, Lions 21; Stormers 13, Ulster 7; Munster 20, Cardiff 15; Scarlets 3, Glasgow Warriors 45.