Lansdowne travel to Cork Constitution having scored over 100 points in their last three games. Table toppers St. Mary’s visit last season’s champions Old Belvedere, who are still without a win, Shannon and Clontarf replay one of their epic finals, Garryowen host a resurgent Dolphin and Young Munster look to get back on track against Blackrock.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 28
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v LANSDOWNE (3rd), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WLWLWWLWL; Lansdowne: LWWLWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Gerry Hurley 71; Tries: Niall O’Driscoll 5; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 93; Tries: Matt Healy, Cian Aherne 4 each
Preview: A big test for both sides this weekend. Brian Walsh’s Cork Constitution have struggled for the consistency that has been their hallmark in previous season.
Admittedly they have seen young tyros like Peter O’Mahony and Simon Zebo make the transition to Munster and have lost players of the calibre of Frank Cogan, but they are still one of the top clubs around.
Mike Ruddock’s Lansdowne outfit have been in sparkling form, notching up over 100 points in their last three games.
A home win sees Cork Con still in touch with the top of the table. An away victory sees Lansdowne go four games undefeated and marks them as serious title contenders.
Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 19, 2008: Lansdowne 13 Cork Constitution 20, the RDS; Saturday, October 1, 2011: Lansdowne 9 Cork Constitution 21, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
GARRYOWEN (7th) v DOLPHIN (6th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: LWLWLWWL; Dolphin: LWLLLLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 40; Tries: Alan Gaughan, Paul Neville 2 each; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 56; Tries: Eric Moloney 3
Preview: Only a point separates these sides in the table but Garryowen now have a game in hand, albeit against Limerick rivals Shannon.
The Dooradoyle outfit lost to Lansdowne in their last outing and with four wins and four losses are finely balanced for the rest of the season.
Dolphin put a serious dent in Young Munster’s title push last weekend having done the same to Clontarf the week before.
Can the Musgrave Park outfit continue this winning form? They will still be outside the top four if they do but in a nice position to pounce on any slip-ups.
Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 5, 2011: Dolphin 14 Garryowen 3, Musgrave Park; Saturday, November 26, 2011: Dolphin 9 Garryowen 14, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (1st), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: LLLLDLLLL; St. Mary’s College: WLLWWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Andy Dunne 34; Tries: Peter Woods 4; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 101; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 4
Preview: Seven losing bonus points in eight games tells a story for Old Belvedere this season and but for them they would be nailed on relegation certainties. As it stands they can still salvage their season if they can start to win games.
St. Mary’s have gone about their business very efficiently this season, negotiating some tricky games to date.
They are three points clear at the top and with ‘Tarf and Lansdowne on the road to Munster, a win in Anglesea Road on Saturday could see them stretch that even further.
Still, this is an ‘old school’ derby and ‘Belvo might just break out at some point this season even if form favours the visitors.
Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 2, 2011: Old Belvedere 25 St. Mary’s College 19, Anglesea Road; Friday, November 25, 2011: St. Mary’s College 15 Old Belvedere 10, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points
SHANNON (8th) v CLONTARF (2nd), Thomond Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Shannon: WWWLDLLL; Clontarf: WWWWLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 39; Tries: Luke O’Dea 2; Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 87; Tries: Noel Reid 4
Preview: Not too many seasons back these two sides played out a league final that ended in a dramatic victory for Shannon on the basis of first try scored.
There is no grand final this season but Shannon, who bid farewell to the emigrating David O’Donovan this week, have bigger concerns – namely being two points above the relegation zone.
Clontarf put 35 points on ‘Belvo last weekend but only managed a losing bonus away to Dolphin the week before.
The north Dublin side will have to rediscover their early season winning form if they are to keep the pressure on St. Mary’s.
Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 27, 2010: Shannon 26 Clontarf 32, Coonagh; Saturday, November 26, 2011: Clontarf 29 Shannon 8, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 6-10 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (9th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WLWWWWWLL; Blackrock College: LLLWLLLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Willie Staunton 108; Tries: Matthew Costelloe 2; Blackrock College: Points: Darragh Fitzpatrick 65; Tries: Brendan Macken, Alex Dunlop, Jan-Simon Byrne, Darragh Fitzpatrick 2 each
Preview: A fall from grace for the Cookies since the Christmas break. Losing at home by a big score to St. Mary’s seriously dented their confidence while last weekend saw them squeeze a losing bonus away to Dolphin.
They are not out of the running by any means, but they need to start winning again and will be without the services of emigrating pair Matthew Costelloe and Shane Hassett.
Blackrock were smashed on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium last weekend but ran up 30 points against Shannon the week before. Which ‘Rock will travel to Limerick? Which Young Munster will meet them?
Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2011: Blackrock College 11 Young Munster 13, Stradbrook; Saturday, October 15, 2011: Blackrock College 13 Young Munster 37, Stradbrook
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points