Zebre vs Lions
The inaugural United Rugby Championship is finally here with the Lions of South Africa taking on the Italian team Zebre. Both these team have fared very poorly in the previous competitions that they played in. Zebre and the Lions finished last in the Rainbow Cup and Currie Cup respectively. They will want to start with a win and put those bad memories behind them. As this is the first encounter between the sides there is no history to talk about. The Italians are playing at home with a crowd and this will give them that much needed advantage. They have selected a team with 10 Italian national players and I expect them to come out firing in their first match. They will want to move the ball around the field as the Lions have a very big pack. The key man for Zebre will be Carlo Canna and they will look to him to launch the attacks and to control the game.
TIP: The Lions are into unknown territory but they only know way one of playing and that is to run the ball at every opportunity. In order to do that they will need forward domination but that won’t be easy against a team filled with national players. Italian and Zebre skipper will be the vital cog in the home team’s front row and will look to his props to gain parity or even over power the Lions scrum. The team that can win the forward battle win go a long way to winning the match as this will enable them to launch their backs. The Lions have youngster Jordan Hendrikse at 10 and he will no doubt be hunted by the Zebre players who would want to put him under pressure. He will need to use his big boot to relieve pressure and to gain territory. The bookies have the Tigers as slight favourites and I also tip them for the win. The best odds on this bet are as follows: Worldsportsbetting 1.65, Playabets 1.78 and Sunbet 1.76
HEAD TO HEAD STATS
Zebre vs Lions
- This is the first meeting between these sides.
Latest results for both teams
Zebre lost their last match 54-11 to Munster while the Lions lost 56-14 to the Sharks in their last match.
The Italians are famous for their forward dominated play but that will not be easy against a very big Lions team. It is good to see Jaco Kriel back in the Lions team after injury and his experience of playing in Europe will be invaluable to this Lions team. The major difference between these sides is the experience factor. The Italians have seasoned players while the Lions have picked a very young team. This could decide the game especially in the second half. I expect Canna to be the key man for Zebre and if he can bring in the dangerous Junior Laloifi into the game then this could spell danger for the Lions. The Lions have their own danger man Rabz Maxwane on the wing and he will want to use his experience of playing against the Italians to good effect. This match will be tight but the experience of the Zebre team will see them home by 8 points.
- Probable Starting XVs
15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni (c), 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti
15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (c), 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Ruan Dreyer
Odds for this bet
The best odds on the Zebre victory are as follows:
Odds comparison on the Zebre handicap victory :
The complete odds on the Leicester handicap victory:
Worldsportsbetting (-3.5) 1.90
Sunbet (-1.5) 1.93
Playabets (-1.5) 1.87
Predictions and Odds in details
Both these teams will try and use their rolling maul as an attacking weapon so the maul defence will be crucial in this match. The Italians may be a little rusty as they have not played a competitive match for a long time. The Lions will want to take advantage of this early on. The Lions 10 Hendrikse showed that he can be vulnerable when he is put under pressure and this will be a real test for him. His halfback partner Andre Warner is more experienced and must try to relieve some of the pressure by taking some of the kicking responsibilities. The battle between Kriel and Maxime Mbandà will be one of the highlights in the match as both men are internationals. There are decent returns for punters on the Zebre outright win but I suggest the value bet on the Zebre handicap. The best odds on this bet are as follows: Worldsportsbetting (-3.5) 1.90, Sunbet (-2.5) 1.85 and Playabets (-3.5) 1.85
Sports crazy fan that follows all major sport but the game with the oval ball is my real passion. Was an age level rugby coach and a huge supporter of the Springboks and diehard Liverpool man. I’m an experienced punter and sports writer whose predictions/tips are sure to stir up the emotions. I love the occasional wager on the underdog.