United Rugby Championship: Evan Roos starts in shaken-up Stormers side while Edinburgh bid trio farewell against Ulster

Colin Newboult
united rugby championship urc stormers benetton ulster edinburgh

The 18th and final round of the United Rugby Championship (URC) season kicks off on Friday as Ulster and Stormers battle for second place in the table.

Stormers v Benetton

Hard running number eight Evan Roos returns to the starting line-up in the final round with Hacjivah Dayimani switching to flank alongside Willie Engelbrecht.

In the tight five, Marvin Orie and Ruben van Heerden make up the second-row whilst hooker JJ Kotze starts alongside Neethling Fouche and skipper Steven Kitshoff at the coalface.

It is 50 up for scrum-half Paul de Wet who starts with Springbok Manie Libbok in the half-back pairing. The versatile Damian Willemse moves to centre this week with Dan du Plessis shifting into the 13 shirt.

Clayton Blommetjies and Angelo Davids are elevated to the starting line-up and join Seabelo Senatla in an exciting back-three.

On the pine, Joseph Dweba is joined by veteran Frans Malherbe and Ali Vermaak as front-row options whilst Ernst van Rhyn, BJ Dixon and Marcel Theunissen are the other forward replacements.

Ruhan Nel and Herschel Jantjies are the only backline substitutes due to the 6-2 split.

Duvenhage captains Benetton against his former employers

Meanwhile, former Stormers scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenhage leads Benetton at Danie Craven Stadium and is joined by fly-half Tomas Albornoz in the half-back pairing.

Marco Zanon and Joaquin Riera combine in the midfield, with Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani and Marcus Watson in the back-three.

Henry Time-Stowers gets a shot at number eight, with flanks Manual Zuliani and Alessandro Izekor completing the loose trio.

In the second-row Riccardo Favretto is joined by Marco Lazzaroni. The powerful prop Thomas Gallo starts in the front-row alongside Siua Maile and Filippo Alongi.

On the bench, the front-row options are Bautista Bernasconi, Federico Zani and Nahuel Tetaz. The Cannone brothers, Niccolo and Lorenzo, are the remaining forward options.

Scrum-half Alessandro Garbisi is joined by Jacob Umaga and Tommaso Menoncello as the backline replacements.

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Seabelo Senatla 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Willie Engelbrecht, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 JJ Kotze, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c)
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Ruhan Nel

Benetton: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (c), 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Riccardo Favretto, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Filippo Alongi, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Thomas Gallo
16 Bautista Bernasconi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Nahuel Tetaz , 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Tommaso Menoncello

Date: Friday, April 21
Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
18:30 local (17:30 BST, 16:30 GMT)
Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant referees:
Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Morne Ferreira (South Africa)
Mike Adamson (Scotland)

Ulster v Edinburgh

Second place in the final standings of the URC regular season is up for grabs for Ulster on Friday night.

Ulster boss Dan McFarland has altered his front-row with Andy Warwick returning to the starting line-up at loosehead prop with Jeff Toomaga-Allen at tighthead. Rob Herring splits the pair as he returns to start at hooker.

Lock Alan O’Connor will once again captain Ulster from the second-row and packs down alongside Ireland international Kieran Treadwell.

David McCann gets the nod at blindside with Nick Timoney at openside and Duane Vermeulen at number eight.

John Cooney and Billy Burns start at nine and ten with Stewart Moore coming into the starting XV to link up with James Hume in the centres.

Jacob Stockdale earn his 99th cap for Ulster on the left wing with Rob Baloucoune on the right and Mike Lowry at full-back.

Tom Stewart starts from the bench after his back-to-back hat-tricks and is joined by fellow forwards Callum Reid, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter and Harry Sheridan. Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, and Craig Gilroy are the backline replacements.

Trio set for Edinburgh swansong

Meanwhile, Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair has made five changes to his side for the clash with Ulster.

Up front, Luan de Bruin gets the nod at tighthead prop with Pierre Schoeman at loosehead and Dave Cherry at hooker.

Glen Young replaces Marshall Sykes, who misses out through injury, and joins Sam Skinner in the second-row.

Jamie Ritchie captains the side from the number six jumper with Hamish Watson at seven and Viliame Mata at number eight.

Henry Pyrgos (scrum-half) and Cammy Hutchison (inside centre) both start their final appearance. The final change sees Duhan van der Merwe come in for the injured Damien Hoyland.

James Lang partners Hutchison in the centre with Blair Kinghorn at fly-half.

Emiliano Boffelli and Darcy Graham join Van der Merwe in the back three.

On the bench, Stuart McInally plays his final game for the club before retirement and is joined by in the replacements by Boan Venter, WP Nel, Pierce Phillips, Connor Boyle, Ben Vellacott, Mark Bennett and Nathan Sweeney.

The teams:

Ulster15 Mike Lowry, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 David McCann, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Callum Reid, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Harry Sheridan, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Craig Gilroy

Edinburgh15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Lang, 12 Cammy Hutchison, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (c), 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Glen Young, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Dave Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Boan Venter, 18 WP Nel, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Nathan Sweeney

Date: Friday, April 21
Venue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Sam Holt (Ireland)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

READ MORE: Stormers’ Ernst van Rhyn wary of ‘tricky’ Benetton