URC Semi Finals

It is URC semi-finals time, with Leinster playing Bulls in South Africa and Munster are on home soil in Limerick to take on Glasgow Warriors. This will be an intriguing set of games with all 4 sides laying claim to be the 2024 URC winners.

Leinster go down to South Africa to Loftus Versfeld to take on a Jake White coached Bulls side. The Bulls came up here previously and beat Leinster in the RDS. Leinster will be fired up after another defeat in the Champions Cup Final in London back in May.

They will know this is a last shot at a trophy for the 23/24 season, they last won the URC in 2021 and will be hell bent on trying to make another final with the added incentive of Croke Park being a possible venue for the Final if they defeat Bulls and Glasgow beat Munster in Thomond Park.

Leinster have gone with a powerful side with Garry Ringrose back in 13 shirt with Robbie Henshaw reverting to the 12 jersey, a first time since January that Leinster can select their main pairing at centre. Ross Byrne is picked at 10 with Ciaran Frawley covering out half from the bench.

The Bulls will know they have the chance to put Leinster out of another URC knock out phase and if they do that coupled with a Munster loss in semi-final 2, they will have home advantage in next week’s Final.

For 3 of the four sides, that carrot of home final advantage is a distinct possibly so that will drive them on along with the hope of making another Grand Final. Munster won the Grand Final on South African soil last season 19-14. They won that day with a late converted John Hodnett try.

Leinster have it all to do, recent history is not with them in terms of winning finals but they have the squad to do the needful in South Africa tomorrow afternoon. The Bulls won’t roll over and make it tough and they have shown they can score tries from all angles and can match teams up front also. Leinster have gone 5/3 on the bench with Luke Mc Grath, Jamie Osbourne and Ciaran Frawley covering the back line.

The Bulls have the power up front as I say and will look to a strong driving maul to help them past Leinster. The Bulls also have the back line to punish any slip up in the Leinster defensive set up. They have gone 6/2 on the bench and will unload a stacked bench to hopefully see them through.

Munster have earned the right to be at home thanks to finishing the season in first spot and will have home advantage in the Final if they get passed Glasgow. They have spoken of doing it on home soil for all the supporters who could not get to South Africa last season.

This semi-final will have plenty of needle due to Munster’s win in a tight semi-final in Glasgow last season. That coupled with some really tight battles in recent years with usually only a score or 2 between the teams.

Munster will know that home advantage is only part of the story and they will need to perform with impact from the bench being crucial. Time for Munster to stand up and be counted and defend the crown hard won last season.

Semi-final 1 is a tight one to call and will go down to the wire, home advantage will be crucial and with that I think The Bulls may cause a shock and put Leinster out with only a score between the sides.

Semi Final 2 is another tight affair and after last season’s game where Munster got through winning 14-5. I fully expect the game tomorrow to follow a similar pattern but Munster look well placed to get to another Grand Final.

My paring for the 2024 Grand Final will be Munster vs Bulls in Thomond Park…. Let’s see if my prediction is correct. Bring on two good quality semi-finals….

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