The Ulster Bank League rolls back into venues up and down country this weekend, starting with a mouth-watering Friday Night Lights derby between St. Mary’s College and Old Belvedere. The following day, Division 1A leaders Young Munster will have home advantage against an ever-improving Lansdowne side.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 26
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Templeville Road, Friday, November 25, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: WLLWW; Old Belvedere: LLLLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 52; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 2; Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane, Andy Dunne 24 each; Tries: Henry Bryce, Karl Miller, Peter Woods 2 each
Preview: A Dublin derby to whet the appetite for the return of Ulster Bank League rugby after a three-week break. Defending champions Old Belvedere are still without a win after Shannon fought back to draw with them last time out.
Phil Werahiko’s men have yet to put in an 80-minute performance so far this season and doing so at Templeville Road will be tough.
St. Mary’s are gunning for their third straight league win, having seen off Dolphin and Blackrock College in recent rounds. Peter Smyth’s side are beginning to find some rhythm.
They were not resounding victories however and a tight tussle is certainly expected here, with ‘Belvo, who were 17-9 winners in this equivalent fixture last season, desperately trying to revive their title defence.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 2, 2010: St. Mary’s College 9 Old Belvedere 17, Templeville Road; Saturday, April 2, 2011: Old Belvedere 25 St. Mary’s College 19, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points
BLACKROCK COLLEGE (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Stradbrook
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: LLLWL; Cork Constitution: WLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Darragh Fitzpatrick 30; Tries: Brendan Macken 2; Cork Constitution: Points: Gerry Hurley 50; Tries: Niall O’Driscoll 3
Preview: Blackrock College have made real strides in recent matches but they still lie at the bottom of the table. The involvement of Leinster centre Brendan Macken, in particular, has made a huge difference.
He was outstanding in the victory over Old Belvedere and also scored a try in the narrow 19-18 home defeat to St Mary’s College.
But ‘Rock face a big task against a Cork Constitution outfit which has moved up to fourth spot following an outstanding victory over the previously unbeaten Clontarf.
Their problem is that they had several of their top players named in the extended Munster squad. Coach Brian Wal can only keep his fingers crossed that enough are available to him.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 2, 2010: Blackrock College 23 Cork Constitution 31, Stradbrook; Saturday, April 2, 2011: Cork Constitution 33 Blackrock College 16, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
CLONTARF (2nd) v SHANNON (3rd), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWWWL; Shannon: WWWLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 53; Tries: Barry O’Mahony, Noel Reid 2 each; Shannon: Points: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 39; Tries: Luke O’Dea 2
Preview: One of the games of the day with second-placed Clontarf taking on Shannon who are in third spot. It is important for Clontarf to return to winning form after their 26-18 defeat to Cork Constitution.
Their scrum came under some pressure against a formidable Con front row and they took a long time to get going. Strangely, it was only after being reduced to 14 men that they scored their two tries through Noel Reid and Barry O’Mahony.
Their prospects should undoubtedly be helped by the fact that they will be at home. But Shannon are sure to provide formidable opposition.
After an outstanding start to their campaign, they have faltered a bit. But their achievement in coming from 18-8 down to draw 18-18 with Old Belvedere last time out shows that there is nothing wrong with the character of the side.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Clontarf 13 Shannon 21, Castle Avenue; Saturday, March 27, 2010: Shannon 26 Clontarf 32, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
DOLPHIN (9th) v GARRYOWEN (7th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LWLLL; Garryowen: LWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 22; Tries: Eric Moloney, Cian Bohane 2 each; Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 27; Tries: Alan Gaughan 2
Preview: Dolphin are in dire need of a victory following a run of results which has left them as one of three teams on six points at the bottom of the table.
Their 38-21 defeat to Lansdowne in their last outing did not bode well. Certainly, they will need to improve their defensive work after conceding five tries to the headquarters outfit.
At least though they are back at Musgrave Park after two defeats in Dublin to St. Mary’s and Lansdowne. But they will face a very lively outfit in Garryowen.
Oddly, Garryowen seem to reserve their best rugby for away games. While they have lost three at home, they have beaten Old Belvedere and Cork Constitution on their travels.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 23, 2010: Garryowen 45 Dolphin 27, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 5, 2011: Dolphin 14 Garryowen 3, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (1st) v LANSDOWNE (6th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WLWWW; Lansdowne: LWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Willie Staunton 64; Tries: Matthew Costelloe 2; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 55; Tries: Matt Healy 3
Preview: An interesting test for the new league leaders Young Munster. They should not fall into the trap of underestimating Lansdowne.
Clearly, Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock has done a very decent job with his young team. Given the right sort of possession, they have the backs to score tries.
They got five in all in beating Dolphin but Young Munster will, of course, be a much different proposition. Player-coach Mike Prendergast continues to a key figure, scoring the winning try against Garryowen.
But the real strength of this Young Munster team is the fact that everyone does their bit. And, crucially, the have an ace place-kicker in Willie Staunton.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, March 30, 2002: Young Munster 30 Lansdowne 20, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points
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