Stormers trio Damian Willemse, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Leolin Zas celebrate. Image: @TheStormers via X

URC pool stage: Who will advance?

SA teams gear up for crucial Vodacom URC matches, with Bulls, Stormers, and Lions battling for top spots and SA Shield in thrilling derbies.


Stormers trio Damian Willemse, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Leolin Zas celebrate. Image: @TheStormers via X

The final pool round of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship (URC) promises excitement as the Vodacom Bulls, DHL Stormers, and Emirates Lions compete for top log positions and a place in the top eight.

Saturday’s matches will also determine the SA Shield winner in what is set to be a thrilling round of local derbies.

Stormers Face Lions in High-Stakes URC Match

The DHL Stormers, currently fifth in the standings, will host the ninth-placed Emirates Lions in Cape Town at 13:45.

Meanwhile, the Hollywoodbets Sharks, no longer in the quarter-final race, will play against the second-placed Vodacom Bulls in Durban at 16:10.

This round is crucial as it will decide the SA Shield winner. The Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers are closely matched, with the Bulls holding a slight three-point lead.

A win for the Vodacom Bulls in Durban would keep them in the running to finish the URC league stages as the top team, securing a home quarter-final and possibly more.

The Bulls are two points behind Munster. For the DHL Stormers, a victory will solidify their quarter-final spot, though they cannot rise above fifth place.

Lions Aim for URC Play-off Berth

The Emirates Lions must win, ideally with a bonus point, to keep their URC play-off hopes alive. The Cape Town derby is expected to be intense.

While the Stormers are guaranteed a top-eight finish, they aim to enter the play-offs with momentum. A loss to the Lions could push them down the standings, resulting in a tougher quarter-final.

The Lions will look to replicate their victory from the fifth round of 2021 in Cape Town. If they secure a win with a bonus point, they could enter the top eight, currently tied on 49 log points with Benetton and Edinburgh.

With high stakes, both teams will be fiercely competitive.

Attack Versus Defence in URC Showdown

Adding intrigue to the match, the Lions boast a stronger attacking record this URC season, with 63 more points than the Stormers.

However, the Stormers have been more solid defensively, conceding 45 fewer points across 17 matches. The Stormers will be inspired by their strong home record, with only one loss this season.

Bulls Favoured in Durban URC Showdown

In Durban, the Vodacom Bulls are expected to perform well against the Hollywoodbets Sharks, given their record of 12 wins in 17 matches compared to the Sharks’ four wins.

However, the Bulls must be cautious, as the Sharks come into the match with confidence after winning the EPCR Challenge Cup in England.

The Vodacom Bulls have won their last three matches, while the Sharks have lost their last two in the URC. Despite this, the Sharks aim to finish the season on a high note by causing an upset, playing with the mindset of having nothing to lose.

Statistically, the Bulls have scored almost double the points of the Sharks this URC season. However, defensively, the teams are closer, with less than 15 points separating them, setting the stage for a gripping encounter.

Quarter-final matches and venues will be confirmed after Saturday’s games, with one quarter-final on Friday, 7 June, and three on Saturday, 8 June.

Match Details

The DHL Stormers will face the Emirates Lions at DHL Stadium in Cape Town, with Marius van der Westhuizen as the referee, at 13:45 on Saturday, 1 June. Later the same day, the Hollywoodbets Sharks will take on the Vodacom Bulls at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban, with Morne Ferreira officiating, at 16:10.