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Division 1 Semi-Final Preview: Old Belvedere v Clontarf

Division 1 Semi-Final Preview: Old Belvedere v Clontarf

Will home advantage swing it for Old Belvedere as Phil Werahiko plots the downfall of his former team? Or can Bernard Jackman’s Clontarf side qualify for the club’s second Division 1 final in three years? Sit tight for what promises to be an explosive semi-final clash.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1 SEMI-FINAL: Saturday, April 16

OLD BELVEDERE (2nd, Division 1A) v CLONTARF (1st, Division 1B), Anglesea Road, 2.35pm (live RTÉ 2)

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Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLWWWWWLWLWDLW; Clontarf: WWWLWWWWLWWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane 78; Tries: Daniel Riordan 8; Clontarf: Points: Noel Reid 93; Tries: Michael Keating, Aaron Dundon 5 each

Ulster Bank League Records – Old Belvedere: 2005/06: 12th, Division 2; 2006/07: 1st, Division 2, lost to Greystones in final; 2007/08: 8th, Division 1; 2008/09: 10th, Division 1; 2009/10: 1st, Division 1B, lost to St. Mary’s College in semi-final

Clontarf: 2005/06: 2nd, Division 1, lost to Shannon in final; 2006/07: 2nd, Division 1, lost to Garryowen in semi-final; 2007/08: 4th, Division 1, lost to Cork Constitution in semi-final; 2008/09: 4th, Division 1, lost to Shannon in final; 2009/10: 7th, Division 1A

Preview: Old Belvedere go into this Dublin derby as favourites, despite a somewhat erractic finish to their league campaign. Crucially, they will have home advantage.

At their best, ‘Belvo are capable of playing some outstanding rugby with their powerful number 8 Leo Auva’a, winger David Mongan and full-back Daniel Riordan all proven try scorers.

The trick is to deny them a platform. Old Belvedere director of rugby Phil Werahiko, having previously coached Clontarf, will know better than anyone that they should not be underrated.

The Division 1B table toppers have a very decent pack which includes quality performers in hooker Aaron Dundon, second row Ben Gissing and flankers Eoin Cremen and Barry O’Mahony. So, Bernard Jackman’s men are quite capable of mixing it up front.

If Clontarf show the type of resolve they displayed when beating Lansdowne away at the end of February, Old Belvedere could find themselves in a real battle.

OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Eddie Devitt, John Kennedy, Ben Woods, David Mongan; Conal Keane, Simon Keogh; Vinny Soden, David Gilchrist, Stewart Maguire, Richie Leyden, Ben Marshall, Jonathan Slattery, Jason Risdon, Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: Kevin Buckley, Ben Byrne-Diaper, Erik Jackman, Dean Moore, Andy Dunne, Chris Keane, Karl Miller.

CLONTARF: Daragh O’Shea; Colm O’Shea, Killian Lett, Evan Ryan, Michael Keating; Martin Dufficy, Hugo Nolan; Ciaran Kavanagh, Aaron Dundon, Niall Treston, Ben Gissing, Michael Kearney, Eoin Cremen, Barry O’Mahony, Simon Crawford.

Replacements: Turlough Considine, Ben Barclay, Ben Reilly, Ross McCauley, Erwann Legende, Justin Wilson, Michael McGrath.

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)

Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 19, 2008: Old Belvedere 14 Clontarf 16, Anglesea Road; Saturday, March 21, 2009: Clontarf 24 Old Belvedere 23, Castle Avenue

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Old Belvedere: 1/3: Draw: 20/1; Clontarf: 11/5

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 1-5 points