12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated -
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YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v UL BOHEMIANS (10th), Tom Clifford Park, Friday, March 29, 3.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Young Munster: WWLLWLWWWWLLLLL; UL Bohemians: LWLWLLLLWLWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 101; Tries: Darragh O'Neill 5; UL Bohemians: Points: Ben Martin 63; Tries: Mossy Lawler 4
Preview: A huge amount at stake for UL Bohemians in their continued attempt to move off the bottom of the table. But Young Munster will not be in the mood to do them any favours in this derby encounter.
Mike Prendergast's team will be very anxious to end a disastrous run which has seen them lose five on the trot. It is a series of results which must have hurt their pride. Despite their recent problems, they seem to have discovered a very talented young player in Shane O'Leary.
Unfortunately, UL Bohs' problems have been even worse. They have been conceding some huge scores lately, but at least their second half effort against Lansdowne last weekend was a bit of an improvement.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, November 29, 2008: UL Bohemians 24 Young Munster 6, Thomond Park; Friday, November 9, 2012: UL Bohemians 14 Young Munster 16, Thomond Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points
DOLPHIN (5th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Musgrave Park, Friday, March 29, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Dolphin: LWWWLLWLLLLWWW; Cork Constitution: WLWWWLWLWWLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 141; Tries: James Kiernan 4; Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 109; Tries: Gerry Hurley, Darragh Lyons, Ivan Dineen, Scott Deasy 3 each
Preview: There will be a bit more than bragging rights at stake in this Cork derby. Dolphin, quite obviously, would like nothing better than to finish ahead of Cork Constitution in the table.
Currently, Cork Con are in fourth spot, four points ahead of their local rivals, but Dolphin have a match in hand following the postponement of their game against Clontarf. Furthermore, their form has been excellent of late.
They remain the only side to have come close to beating Lansdowne since the start of the year. The strength of their pack and footballing ability of Barry Keeshan at out-half makes them one of the better sides around just now.
But Cork Con have a points machine of their own in out-half Johnny Holland. The game promises to be just as close as the earlier meeting between the sides when Cork Con won 18-13 at Temple Hill.
Recent League Meetings - Friday, March 2, 2012: Cork Constitution 29 Dolphin 28, Temple Hill; Friday, November 9, 2012: Cork Constitution 18 Dolphin 13, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (9th) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Thomond Park, Friday, March 29, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Shannon: LLLLLLLWLWLWWL; Garryowen: WWWLWWWWLLLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Shannon: Points: Rob Guerin 89; Tries: John Shine, James Loxton 4 each; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 89; Tries: Conan Doyle 5
Preview: Yet another interesting derby encounter. On the face of it, third-placed Garryowen do not have a lot to play for but that is not normally the way things work out when these two great Limerick rivals clash.
The stakes are huge for Shannon. They currently lie second from bottom, now five points behind Old Belvedere in third last place. More importantly, they are only three points ahead of bottom side UL Bohemians.
But they do have a game in hand on their two relegation threatened rivals and although they lost their last outing, away to Dolphin, Shannon's form has shown a significant improvement.
That improvement will need to continue if they are to get a much-needed victory over third-placed Garryowen.
Recent League Meetings - Friday, March 9, 2012: Garryowen 20 Shannon 20, Dooradoyle; Friday, November 9, 2012: Garryowen 12 Shannon 6, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
LANSDOWNE (1st) v CLONTARF (2nd), Aviva Stadium back pitch, 2.05pm (live on RTÉ Two)
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Lansdowne: WWWLWWLWWWWWWWW; Clontarf: LLWWLWWLWLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 196; Tries: Cian Aherne 12; Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 115; Tries: Michael McGrath 11
Preview: Match of the day, or perhaps of the season. It is an opportunity for Lansdowne to make certain of the title with two games to play. Potentially, they could do so with a losing bonus point but head coach Mike Ruddock will unquestionably be looking for another victory.in this televised encounter.
Lansdowne's form since losing narrowly away to Young Munster in early December has seen them win eight on the trot to go 19 points clear at the top.
Although second-placed Clontarf have a game in hand, the reality is that they have no chance of catching Lansdowne. But they would like nothing better than to make a statement by beating the league leaders.
To be fair, their recent form has also been top class, scoring 155 points to win their last four. Furthermore, they know how to win at the Aviva Stadium, having done so in the final game of last season.
This time around, however, it is likely to be more difficult. Importantly, skipper Ross McCarron and out-half Craig Ronaldson should be fit for Lansdowne, but Foster Horan is out injured and Matt Healy is expected to be unavailable.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, April 21, 2012: Lansdowne 27 Clontarf 28, Aviva Stadium main pitch; Friday, November 9, 2012: Clontarf 18 Lansdowne 20, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 6-10 points
OLD BELVEDERE (8th) v ST. MARY'S COLLEGE (7th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Old Belvedere: LLLWWWLLLLLLLWL; St. Mary's College: WLLLLWLWLWWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 89; Tries: Daniel Riordan 7; St. Mary's College: Points: Gavin Dunne 102; Tries: Matthew D'Arcy 4
Preview: What would Old Belvedere give to complete the double over St. Mary's College? When they beat them 18-16 at Templeville Road back in November, they were flying high.
Unfortunately, things subsequently went badly wrong and Old Belvedere have again found themselves in a relegation struggle. They are currently five points ahead of second-from-bottom Shannon but the Limerick side have a game in hand.
Significantly though, Old Belvedere's recent form has improved with a victory over Garryowen in their last home outing. They also picked up two vital points away to Cork Constitution last weekend, despite losing 37-32.
Once again, they will be looking to full-back and captain Danny Riordan to provide inspiration. St. Mary's do not have a lot to play for but they are more than capable of recording a victory and adding to 'Belvo's problems.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, January 28, 2012: Old Belvedere 10 St. Mary's College 27, Anglesea Road; Friday, November 9, 2012: St. Mary's College 16 Old Belvedere 18, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 1-5 points