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ST. MARY'S COLLEGE (5th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Templeville Road, 7.30pm, Friday, October 26 (live Irish Rugby TV)
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - St. Mary's College: WL; Lansdowne: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - St. Mary's College: Points: Ray Crotty 13; Tries: Marcus O'Driscoll, Kevin Croke, Kevin Sheahan 1 each; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 29; Tries: Matt Healy 2
Preview: A big test for the league leaders Lansdowne as they take on Division 1 holders St. Mary's College under floodlights at Templeville Road.
St. Mary's will be determined to return to winning form after losing to Young Munster last time out. But they will recognise that Lansdowne represent very difficult opponents.
There was not much between them in their two meetings last season with Lansdowne winning 23-19 at Templeville Road and St. Mary's taking their revenge, 27-22, on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.
So, another close game can be anticipated. If St. Mary's are to win then they will surely need their strong pack to
gain the upper hand.
Lansdowne are very dangerous behind the scrum. particularly if their back-three of Matt Healy, Ross McCarron and
Cian Aherne see enough of the ball.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, October 8, 2011: St. Mary's College 19 Lansdowne 23, Templeville Road; Saturday, March 3, 2012: Lansdowne 22 St. Mary's College 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
CLONTARF (9th) v UL BOHEMIANS (4th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Clontarf: LL; UL Bohemians: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 18; Tries: Cathal O'Flynn, Dermot O'Meara, Martin Garvey 1 each; UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 16; Tries: Rory White, Mossy Lawler, Martin McPhail 1 each
Preview: After losing their opening two matches to lie near the bottom of the table, last season's runners-up Clontarf simply cannot afford another defeat.
The problem is that they will need to be at their best to see off a UL Bohemians side that has already shown they are more than capable of holding their own at this level.
The Limerick outfit played exceptionally well to defeat Cork Constitution 23-15 in their second outing. Mossy Lawler indicated that he still has a lot to offer by scoring a brilliant try, but star out-half JJ Hanrahan will be absent this weekend due to Munster commitments.
Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned for Clontarf. Losing 23-13 at home to Garryowen represented a significent blow, but Andy Wood is an astute coach and he should have them in much better shape for this encounter.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, January 8, 2011: UL Bohemians 12 Clontarf 16, Annacotty; Saturday, March 26, 2011: Clontarf 15 UL Bohemians 20, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION (6th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Cork Constitution: WL; Young Munster: WW
Preview: Another big match. Second-placed Young Munster only trail Lansdowne on scoring difference following an impressive start to their campaign which has seen them win their first two games.
Mike Prendergast's team seems to have overcome potential problems remarkably well. Brian Haugh, for example, came up thrumps in the 16-14 victory over St. Mary's with some fine goal-kicking.
As usual, Brian Walsh at Cork Constitution has also had to cope with the loss of some key figures. He had every reason to feel delighted with the way they fought back to beat Clontarf in their opening game.
But things did not go quite so well when losing to UL Bohemians. Young Munster will not fear playing at Temple Hill, having won 23-16 at the venue last season.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, December 3, 2011: Cork Constitution 16 Young Munster 23, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 4, 2012: Young Munster 9 Cork Constitution 7, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
GARRYOWEN (3rd) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Garryowen: WW; Old Belvedere: LL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 27; Tries: Barry O'Mahony, Conan Doyle, Corey Hircock 1 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 14; Tries: David Mongan 2
Preview: The new set-up at Garryowen seems to be working a treat. They lie third in the table with two victories already under their belts. They will be favourites to get another win here.
Any team that can go to Clontarf and manage a 23-13 victory must have something going for them. Old Belvedere, by comparison, have lost their two games to date.
Importantly though, 'Belvo have picked up two losing bonus points. Their winger David Mongan potentially represents a threat, having scored two tries against Dolphin.
But Garryowen appear to hold most of the aces with a formidable back tow and an in-form place-kicker in Jamie
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, October 8, 2011: Old Belvedere 25 Garryowen 30, Anglesea Road; Saturday, March 24, 2012: Garryowen 22 Old Belvedere 23, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (10th) v DOLPHIN (7th), Coonagh
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Shannon: LL; Dolphin: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Shannon: Points: John Shine 5; Tries: John Shine 1; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 11; Tries: Harry Fleming, Cian Bohane 1 each
Preview: After their humiliation at the hands of Lansdowne, Shannon player-coach Stephen Keogh stated that this match against Dolphin will be 'huge'. He is right.
For, if things are to continue the way they are going, Shannon are facing a pretty dismal season. They already lie bottom of the table with 84 points conceded in their opening two games.
The only good point from the Lansdowne defeat was that they showed a good deal of character in the second half.
But they badly need to show some ability to go along with that character. Dolphin, with Barry Keeshan back to his best, will not be in the mood to do them any favours.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, October 1, 2011: Shannon 21 Dolphin 18, Coonagh; Saturday, April 21, 2012: Dolphin 3 Shannon 28, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 1-5 points