Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated -
GARRYOWEN (8th) v SHANNON (5th), Dooradoyle, 7.30pm (Friday, January 28)
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Garryowen: LLWLLDL; Shannon: LWLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 41; Tries: Robert Meyer, Ronan O'Mahony 2 each; Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 50; Tries: David Quinlan 2
Preview: Struggling Garryowen will hope that home advantage brings about an improvement in their fortunes as they meet local rivals Shannon in this Friday night derby encounter.
By contrast, Shannon's form has picked up considerably. What is more, the return of Munster and Ireland's Marcus Horan to their front row is a major boost. Horan, who had been sidelined by a wrist injury, is due to play 40 minutes.
Shannon seem to have done much to sort out their early season problems with Colm McMahon making an important contribution, alongside David Quinlan and Paddy Butler in the back row.
Unfortunately, precious little has gone right for Garryowen. They gave as good as they got for much of their outing against leaders Old Belvedere last time out, but an inability to take their chance cost them dearly.
Most Recent Meetings - Friday, October 2, 2009: Garryowen 12 Shannon 10, Dooradoyle; Saturday, April 10, 2010: Shannon 8 Garryowen 9, Coonagh; Friday, October 8, 2010: Shannon 16 Garryowen 9, Thomond Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
BLACKROCK COLLEGE (6th) v DOLPHIN (7th), Stradbrook
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Blackrock College: LWLWWLL; Dolphin: WLLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 33; Tries: Alex Dunlop, Brendan Macken 2 each; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 67; Tries: Eric Moloney 2
Preview: It is hard to know what happened to Dolphin when they were crushed 35-0 by Young Munster last time out. To lose by such a big margin suggests that they are in quite a bit of trouble just now.
Yet, they were able to beat Cork Constitution earlier in the season, so they are certainly capable of raising their game again.
Blackrock, for their part, are also not the most consistent of sides. But they did defeat Dolphin 21-16 away, and they will surely fancy their chances at home, particularly if in-form centre Brendan Macken is involved.
Most Recent Meetings - Saturday, December 12, 2009: Blackrock College 6 Dolphin 12, Stradbrook; Saturday, March 27, 2010: Dolphin 31 Blackrock College 13, Musgrave Park; Saturday, October 9, 2010: Dolphin 16 Blackrock College 21, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win by 6-10 points
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Cork Constitution: WWWWLDW; Old Belvedere: WLWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Cork Constitution: Points: Richie Lane 67; Tries: Richie Lane, Brian Hayes 3 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane 47; Tries: Richie Leyden, Daniel Riordan, Leo Auva'a 4 each
Preview: Possibly the match of the season to date. So far, table toppers Old Belvedere have upstaged everyone in the league, playing some fantastic rugby.
But this is the real test. Cork Constitution at Temple Hill is about as difficult as it gets. Furthermore, 'Belvo's only defeat this season came at the hands of Constitution at Anglesea Road. It took an injury-time drop goal from Sean Scanlon to separate the sides then.
There are intriguing battles all over the pitch, perhaps none more so than in the respective back rows.
Both number 8s are in outstanding form. Cork Con skipper Frank Cogan scored a spectacular try to help his side defeat St. Mary's, while Leo Auva'a, who was in British & Irish Cup action for Leinster last Sunday, grabbed two tries in 'Belvo's recent win over Garryowen.
Most Recent Meeting - Saturday, October 9, 2010: Old Belvedere 9 Cork Constitution 12, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE (3rd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (4th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - St. Mary's College: LLWWWWL; Young Munster: WWLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - St. Mary's College: Points: Gavin Dunne 48; Tries: Darren Hudson 5; Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 73; Tries: Darragh O'Neill, Matthew Costelloe 2 each
Preview: St. Mary's College will be especially keen to return to winning ways after their defeat at Cork Constitution earlier this month.
They will be favourites to do so on their home patch, but it will not be easy. Young Munster's comprehensive 35-point success over Dolphin showed that they are in good shape just now.
Talented half-back Alan Kingsley was very much the key man against Dolphin, giving an outstanding performance.
What is more, the Cookies have already beaten St. Mary's this season, winning 15-9 at the start of their campaign in Clifford Park.
Most Recent Meeting - Saturday, October 9, 2010: Young Munster 15 St. Mary's College 9, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary's College to win by 6-10 points
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