Clontarf have opened up a five-point gap at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1B, with Buccaneers, who have a game in hand, chasing hard. Only 11 points separates the top five sides ahead of another intriguing round of games.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, January 29
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BUCCANEERS (2nd) v BRUFF (4th), Dubarry Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: WWLWWW; Bruff: LLWWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Adam Kennedy 32; Tries: John O’Brien, Kolo Kiripati, Brian Tuohy 3 each; Bruff: Points: Brian Cahill 68; Tries: Cathal O’Regan 3
Preview: A cracking match in prospect here. Buccaneers travelled to Bruff to beat them 26-18 earlier in the campaign but a lot has changed since then.
Bruff have put their poor start behind them to win the Munster Senior Cup for the first time and move up the league. They went down 30-18 away to Lansdowne in their last league outing, but have since responded with a superb comeback victory over UCD in the Bateman All-Ireland Cup.
That said, Buccaneers are flying high and have been up and around the top of the table all season. They are bound to be very formidable at home, and the Pirates have what it takes to complete a season’s double over Bruff.
Most Recent Meeting – Saturday, October 9, 2010: Bruff 18 Buccaneers 26, KIlballyowen Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win by 1-5 points
CLONTARF (1st) v GALWEGIANS (8th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWWLWWW; Galwegians: WLLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Noel Reid 53; Tries: Michael Keating 4; Galwegians: Points: John Cleary 42; Tries: Ja Naughton 2
Preview: This looks like being a staightforward win for table toppers Clontarf. Importantly, they have developed the habit of pulling out something extra when they are in trouble.
But it is hard to visualise Bernard Jackman’s side having too many problems against a struggling Galwegians outfit. When the sides met at Crowley Park, Clontarf were comfortable 33-11 winners.
Former Leinster lock Ben Gissing is making a big impact in the second row for ‘Tarf. He scored a crucial try against UL Bohs in their last match, and is a formidable operator at this level.
Most Recent Meeting – Saturday, October 9, 2010: Galwegians 11 Clontarf 33, Crowley Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 10+ points
UL BOHEMIANS (6th) v DUNGANNON (5th), Annacotty
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWWLLLL; Dungannon: LLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 43; Tries: Tommy O’Donnell, Martin McPhail 2 each; Dungannon: Points: Paddy Jackson 70; Tries: Craig Gilroy 4
Preview: UL Bohemians badly need a boost. They played much better against leaders Clontarf but still went down to a narrow defeat.
At their best, Bohs are capable of producing some terrific rugby. That was shown when they travelled to Dungannon to win 23-19 near the start of the campaign.
But Dungannon have improved considerably since then, beating Clontarf among others. So, it is going to take a very big effort if UL are to secure a much-needed victory.
Most Recent Meeting – Saturday, October 9, 2010: Dungannon 19 UL Bohemians 23, Stevenson Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UL Bohemians to win by 1-5 points
UCC (7th) v LANSDOWNE (3rd), the Mardyke, 3pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCC: WLLLLWL; Lansdowne: LWLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Andrew Burke 55; Tries: Brian Derham, John Ryan, James Ryan, Brian O’Callaghan 2 each; Lansdowne: Points: Eoghan Hickey 102; Tries: Matt Healy 4
Preview: Surely this is the occasion for Lansdowne to get their first overdue away victory. For some reason, they just have not produced on the road.
That is in total contrast to their outstanding efforts on the 3G back pitch at the Aviva Stadium. Last time out, they saw off an in-form Bruff outfit 30-18 to move up to third in the table.
But they really must back up those efforts with away wins. Given that they put 61 points on the Cork students at home, this represents a great opportunity, particularly if Eoghan Hickey continues his top-scoring ways at out-half.
Most Recent Meeting – Saturday, October 9, 2010: Lansdowne 61 UCC 13, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 6-10 points
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