There are two mouth-watering top four clashes in Ulster Bank League Division 1A this Saturday, with current leaders Young Munster travelling to Cork Constitution and St. Mary’s College hosting second-placed Clontarf in a tasty Dublin derby.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 3
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (1st), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WLWLWW; Young Munster: WLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Gerry Hurley 57; Tries: Niall O’Driscoll, Brian O’Hara 3 each; Young Munster: Points: Willie Staunton 79; Tries: Matthew Costelloe 2
Preview: Third against first in what promises to be another tightly fought encounter between these two great rivals. Young Munster player-coach Mike Prendergast describes it as a ‘huge challenge’ for his side.
He is right. While Cork Constitution may not have the resources of recent seasons, they are always very formidable at at Temple Hill – just ask Clontarf.
If they can add the scalp of the league leaders, Cork Con are set to move menacingly up the table. But this Young Munster team will not be easily beaten, they have developed the important habit of winning tight games.
Last weekend’s narrow victory over Lansdowne was the perfect example, Willie Staunton earning the win with the last kick of the game.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 5, 2011: Young Munster 6 Cork Constitution 3, Tom Clifford Park; Sunday, April 17, 2011: Semi-final: Cork Constitution 19 Young Munster 9, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
GARRYOWEN (5th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (10th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: LWLWLW; Blackrock College: LLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 33; Tries: Alan Gaughan 2; Blackrock College: Points: Darragh Fitzpatrick 44; Tries: Brendan Macken 2
Preview: A great opportunity for Garryowen to record their first home victory. Remarkably, they have lost all three at home and won all three away to date.
But they only went down to a late score against leaders Young Munster in their last outing at Dooradoyle. They are a useful young side, capable of playing the game at pace.
Furthermore, some of those young players are making real progress, centre Corey Hircock doing particularly well in last weekend’s triumph over Dolphin.
Not a lot is going right for bottom-of-the-table Blackrock. Out-half Darragh Fitzpatrick did exceptionally well, scoring all of their points in last Saturday’s narrow 17-14 defeat to Cork Con, but he could do with more back up.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 30, 2010: Blackrock College 16 Garryowen 11, Stradbrook; Saturday, February 12, 2011: Garryowen 20 Blackrock College 21, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 6-10 points
OLD BELVEDERE (8th) v DOLPHIN (9th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: LLLLDL; Dolphin: LWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane, Andy Dunne 24 each; Tries: Peter Woods 3; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 31; Tries: Eric Moloney, Cian Bohane 2 each
Preview: Could this be the weekend that Old Belvedere get their first league victory? Nobody could have predicted that the defending champions would fail to win any of their opening six games.
Fortunately, they have picked up seven bonus points which means they are ahead of Dolphin and Blackrock on points difference. But what they really need is that overdue win to give them confidence for the remainder of their campaign.
This would seem to their opportunity, given Dolphin’s slump in form. Too often the Cork outfit have had plenty of possession without putting the scores on the board.
They are, quite clearly, depending far too much on the boot of Barry Keeshan. That said, they will also rate their chances of winning this bottom of the table clash.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 27, 2010: Dolphin 15 Old Belvedere 18, Musgrave Park; Saturday, February 26, 2011: Old Belvedere 16 Dolphin 16, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (6th) v LANSDOWNE (7th), Coonagh
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Shannon: WWWLDL; Lansdowne: LWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 39; Tries: Luke O’Dea 2; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 63; Tries: Matt Healy 4
Preview: A very interesting game between these well-established clubs with Shannon hoping to get back to winning form after last weekend’s disappointing away loss to Clontarf.
To be fair, they were without a few of their top players because of Munster call-ups, including the highly promising Luke O’Dea who marked his debut for his province with a try. So, they will surely give an improved performance.
But they will face a decent team in Lansdowne. Mike Ruddock’s charges came within a whisker of upsetting Young Munster in Limerick last Saturday and will surely feel they can go one better against Shannon.
If they get sufficient ball, they can be dangerous. Craig Ronaldson is emerging as a very promising out-half, Ross McCarron is a top class full-back and Matt Healy on the wing a good finisher.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 24, 2007: Shannon 26 Lansdowne 17, Thomond Park; Saturday, December 15, 2007: Lansdowne 19 Shannon 45, the RDS
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (4th) v CLONTARF (2nd), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: WLLWWW; Clontarf: WWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 67; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 2; Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 62; Tries: Barry O’Mahony 3
Preview: This Dublin derby is one of the matches of the day. St. Mary’s College have put together a run of three victories without exactly setting the world alight.
They will be hard to beat on their home track, especially as they have one of the most consistent place-kickers around in full-back Gavin Dunne. Clontarf cannot afford to give him too many opportunities.
But second-placed Clontarf will be in a good frame of mind after last weekend’s impressive 29-8 victory over Shannon. That was the perfect response to the first loss of their campaign to Cork Con.
Their back row of Barry O’Mahony, Simon Crawford and Frank Cogan is sure to play a major role as they seek their sixth win in seven games and a possible return to the top of the table.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 3, 2009: St. Mary’s College 24 Clontarf 7, Templeville Road; Saturday, April 10, 2010: Clontarf 24 St. Mary’s College 39, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
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