Three of Division 1B’s top four sides – all of whom are from Ulster – will have home advantage when the Ulster Bank League resumes this weekend. Table toppers Ballynahinch are expected to maintain their winning form against second-from-bottom UCC.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, October 29
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BALLYMENA (3rd) v GALWEGIANS (10th), Eaton Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: WLW; Galwegians: LLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Richard Aingworth 15; Tries: Richard Aingworth 3; Galwegians: Points: Tadhg Leader 34; Tries: Tadhg Leader 2
Preview: Galwegians are going to have to show a major improvement if they are to get their first victory of the season here.
They currently lie bottom of the table after conceding 39 points at home to Ballynahinch last time out. So they really have a job on their hands.
Ballymena will not be lacking confidence after beating Bruff 34-28 away last time out. To come away from the Limerick venue with a bonus point was quite an achievement.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 5, 2009: Ballymena 13 Galwegians 16, Eaton Park; Saturday, March 6, 2010: Galwegians 17 Ballymena 16, Crowley Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win by 1-5 points
BALLYNAHINCH (1st) v UCC (9th), Ballymacarn Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: WWW; UCC: LLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: James Lash 33; Tries: James Thompson, Stuart Morrow 2 each; UCC: Points: Brian Kingston 20; Tries: Brian O’Callaghan 1
Preview: Current leaders Ballynahinch can do very little wrong. They have won three out of three and looked very impressive in doing so.
Dungannon really put it up to them last time out on their home track but Ballynahinch came through 25-21. It will be a real surprise if UCC manage to bring a halt to their gallop.
There has been little to suggest that the Cork students are up to their task. They have lost their opening three games to lie second-from-bottom.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 14, 2009: Ballynahinch 6 UCC 15, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, February 20, 2010: UCC 32 Ballynahinch 10, the Mardyke
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win by 6-10 points
BELFAST HARLEQUINS (4th) v DUNGANNON (6th), Deramore Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: WLW; Dungannon: WLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 29; Tries: Rory Scholes, Richard Lutton, Ian Porter, Michael Allen, Matt Holmes, Rory Blake-Knox 1 each; Dungannon: Points: Paddy Jackson 11; Tries: Chris Cochrane, Derek Hall 2 each
Preview: This is one which could definitely go either way. Belfast Harlequins have made slightly the better start with two victories.
But Dungannon played really well in very nearly upsetting leaders Ballynahinch. Their young Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson was outstanding in a tightly-fought encounter.
This Saturday’s clash may well be equally close. Belfast Harlequins will be hoping that home advantage proves the difference.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 21, 2006: Dungannon 17 Belfast Harlequins 6, Stevenson Park; Saturday, January 6, 2007: Belfast Harlequins 6 Dungannon 23, Deramore Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win by 6-10 points
UL BOHEMIANS (5th) v BUCCANEERS (2nd), Annacotty
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWW; Buccaneers: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 38; Tries: Darren Moroney 1; Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 21; Tries: Paul Harte, Denis Buckley 2 each
Preview: One of the matches of the day. UL Bohemians lie fourth in the standings but Buccaneers are in second spot with three wins.
This, however, could easily be the Athlone outfit’s toughest task to date. UL Bohs are generally very good at home.
That said, Buccaneers’ formidable pack probably makes them favourites. Their front row crossed for three tries in the 23-17 victory over UCD, with Connacht prop Denis Buckley getting two of them.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 13, 2010: UL Bohemians 3 Buccaneers 26, Annacotty; Saturday, February 19, 2011: Buccaneers 11 UL Bohemians 18, Dubarry Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win by 1-5 points
UCD (8th) v BRUFF (7th), Belfield
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: LWL; Bruff: LWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Niall Earls 28; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 2; Bruff: Points: Brian Cahill 24; Tries: John Shine 2
Preview: Two sides who are a lot better than their lowly position in the table indicates. UCD are third-from-bottom with Bruff fourth last.
But UCD showed real signs of an improvement in the second half against leaders Buccaneers. After trailing 20-8 at the interval they reduced the defict to 20-17 before a late penalty sealed their fate.
Bruff, for their part, must improve their defence. They were much too erratic in their 34-28 home defeat by Ballymena last time out.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, October 31, 2009: Bruff 24 UCD 12, Kilballyowen Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Bruff to win by 1-5 points
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