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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

With fourth-placed Belfast Harlequins hosting leaders Ballynahinch and Ballymena, in fifth place, travelling to third-placed Buccaneers, we could see some big shifts at the top of the table in Ulster Bank League Division 1B.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, January 28

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BELFAST HARLEQUINS (4th) v BALLYNAHINCH (1st), Deramore Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: WLWLWWLWW; Ballynahinch: WWWWLWLDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 62; Tries: Neil McComb 4; Ballynahinch: Points: James Lash 67; Tries: James Thompson 5

Preview: A difficult match for Ballynahinch as they attempt to hold on to top spot in what has become a really tight battle at the top of the table.

Only four points separate the top five teams. And four of those are from Ulster, with Buccaneers, in third spot, the exception.

Clearly, this is going to be another keenly-fought encounter. Fourth-placed Belfast Harlequins, having secured a bonus point in an impressive 39-22 away success over UCD, represent a definite threat to the leaders.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2011: Ballynahinch 18 Belfast Harlequins 15, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, October 8, 2011: Ballynahinch 27 Belfast Harlequins 16, Ballymacarn Park

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

DUNGANNON (2nd) v UL BOHEMIANS (6th), Stevenson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dungannon: WLLWLWLWW; UL Bohemians: LWWLWLLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: Chris Cochrane 40; Tries: Chris Cochrane 8; UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 94; Tries: Ben Martin 3

Preview: Dunganonn are very much the team of the moment in this division, having put 39 points on Ballymena at Eaton Park.

They have scoring potential to burn in their backs division through the likes of Conor Gaston and Chris Cochrane. The fact that they have secured six try-scoring bonus points in their nine outings speaks for itself.

UL Bohemians staged a great fightback against Ballynahinch before eventually losing 20-16 but they are clearly going to have to improve again to overcome in-form Dungannon.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 29, 2011: UL Bohemians 32 Dungannon 22, Annacotty; Saturday, October 8, 2011: UL Bohemians 12 Dungannon 5, Annacotty

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dungannon to win by 6-10 points

GALWEGIANS (8th) v BRUFF (9th), Crowley Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: LLLLWWWLL; Bruff: LWLLLLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Tadhg Leader 64; Tries: Barry Lee, John Cleary 3 each; Bruff: Points: Brian Cahill 52; Tries: John Shine 4

Preview: Galwegians have faltered somewhat in recent outings after a great run which brought them up the table. Consequently, they are now only two points ahead of second-from-bottom Bruff.

So, this is a a very important game. Bruff must have taken heart from their effort in getting the better of UCC 22-18 in a bottom of the table clash.

For their part, Galwegians will hope that home advantage gives them an edge. But they must improve from their effort when losing to 14-man Buccaneers last time out.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2011: Bruff 15 Galwegians 25, Kilballyowen Park; Saturday, October 8, 2011: Bruff 21 Galwegians 12, Kilballyowen Park

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

UCC (10th) v UCD (7th), the Mardyke, 3pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCC: LLLLLLLWL; UCD: LWLWDLWDL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Brian Kingston 61; Tries: Brian O’Callaghan 3; UCD: Points: Niall Earls 80; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 3

Preview: There is plenty at stake in this clash of the university outfits. More so perhaps for UCC because they are bottom of the table.

But UCD also need to win in order to stay away from the relegation zone. They currently lie fourth last, only three points ahead of second-from-bottom Bruff.

Furthermore, they cannot have been happy to have conceded 39 points at home to Belfast Harlequins in their last outing. UCC showed when upsetting Buccaneers that they can be very dangerous on their home ground.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, October 8, 2011: UCD 23 UCC 16, Belfield

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win by 6-10 points

BUCCANEERS (3rd) v BALLYMENA (5th), Dubarry Park, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: WWWWWLWLW; Ballymena: WLWWDWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 57; Tries: John O’Brien, Paul Harte, Shane Layden 3 each; Ballymena: Points: John Semple 57; Tries: Richard Aingworth 4

Preview: An important encounter between two of the top five teams. Buccaneers, however, will surely go into it in the better frame of mind.

Their fans must have been delighted with the way they beat Galwegians, despite having to play most of the game with 14 men. They will be looking for the same sort of spirit against Ballymena.

For their part, Ballymena are going to have to improve significantly from their disappoint display when losing 39-13 at home to Belfast Harlequins. Otherwise, they will surely suffer another defeat.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 16, 2010: Buccaneers 13 Ballymena 16, Dubarry Park; Saturday, October 8, 2011: Ballymena 10 Buccaneers 16, Eaton Park

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