United Rugby Championship predictions and fixtures for Saturday, January 22, 2022

The United Rugby Championship finally returns to South African soil on Saturday, with a pair of local derbies ushering in the latest rugby reboot in the Covid-19 world.

It is the latest attempt to kick-start the URC in the southern hemisphere, after the meteoric rise of the Omicron variant saw the touring European teams take to the hills in 2021.

The games will remain in-house for now, with Lions hosting Sharks for the North-South derby between the Bulls and Stormers.

Lions vs Sharks

United Rugby Championship action makes its South African comeback on Saturday afternoon as the Sharks make the trip to Emirates Airline Park to play against the Lions.

The pair will meet in Johannesburg, separated by just one place and two bonus points, for what the standings are worth given this season’s disruption so far.

It was also the best possible end to 2021 for Gauteng’s side as they returned from Cape Town with a huge win over the mournful Stormers.

The Sharks had a similar success against the Bulls at Kings Park to close out the year with an intriguing encounter at the Highveld.

Springboks star Lukhanyo Am leads the way, with Bok wings Sibusiso Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi flanking the center.

Retshegofaditswe Nche returns to the front row after his successful stint on the international setup.

Vincent Tshituka is injured and absent from the hosts, who are led by Burger Odendaal.

Bulls vs Stormers

It’s a north-south derby to kick off the new year in the United Rugby Championship, where the Bulls host the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld.

The old rivals struggled during the URC’s fragmented genesis in the second half of 2021, taking just one win each from their first five matches.

Both were also defeated in their last game of the year, when the Bulls went to the Sharks in Durban while the Stormers were stopped by the Lions in Cape Town.

Warrick Gelant has only been named as one of the away squad’s replacements, despite being a shining light during the first half of the disjointed campaign.

Damian Willemse takes his place as fullback, while Steven Kitshoff is co-captain of the men in blue and white from the front row.

Veteran Cornal Hendricks leads the hosts, while Lionel Mapoe joins him at the centers in Pretoria.

Teenage flanker Reinhard Ludwig makes his URC debut in the rival clash.

United Rugby Championship: Predictions

Prediction methodology explained: The expected win rate is based on 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 correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. If no value is stated, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins are taken from statschatnz.

lions vs sharks urc predictions

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