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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

A number of key battles will be played out in Ulster Bank League Division 1B this Saturday, with table toppers Malone welcoming UCD to Gibson Park and Belfast Harlequins visiting Dungannon for a mouth-watering Ulster derby.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, November 3

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYMENA (10th) v BUCCANEERS (7th), Eaton Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: LLL; Buccaneers: LWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Niall Martin 8; Tries: Niall Martin, John Andrew 1 each; Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 27; Tries: Kolo Kiripati, Billy Henshaw, Luke Satchwell, Callum Boland, David Heffernan 1 each

Preview: Ballymena lie bottom following three defeats but there were signs of an improvement against high-flying Dublin University last Saturday.

They made Dublin University battle hard for a 25-11 victory. A repeat of that effort and they could be in with a chance of recording a first victory of their campaign.

It is hard to know what to make of Buccaneers. They, at least, have a win to their credit but they will need to improve on their effort when losing to Dungannon last time out.

With this being their head coach Hendre Marnitz’s last game before he returns home to South Africa, expect Buccs to dig deep in pursuit of their second league victory.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 8, 2011: Ballymena 10 Buccaneers 16, Eaton Park; Saturday, January 28, 2012: Buccaneers 6 Ballymena 8, Dubarry Park

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

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (9th) v BALLYNAHINCH (3rd), Stradbrook

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: LLL; Ballynahinch: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: David Godfrey 15; Tries: Mark Scott-Lennon, Jan-Simon Byrne, Michael Carroll, Job Langbroek 1 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Michael Lawton 25; Tries: Chris Napier 2

Preview: Life does not get any easier for Blackrock College who are second-from-bottom in the table without a win in any of their first three games.

They are unlikely to get any favours from a Ballynahinch side that lies in third spot after winning all of their matches. Their last effort, a 24-13 away success over the previously unbeaten UCD, was particularly impressive.

So, under-pressure Blackrock are clearly going to have to make a major step up if they are to secure that overdue first victory.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

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

BRUFF (8th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd), Kilballyowen Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Bruff: WLL; Dublin University: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Bruff: Points: Brian Carroll 18; Tries: Brendan Deady 2; Dublin University: Points: Cathal Marsh 17; Tries: Ariel Robles, Niyi Adeolukan 2 each

Preview: Bruff will be glad to back to their own patch after conceding six tries away to leaders Malone.

Normally, the Limerick side are pretty competitive at home. But they will need to be against an unbeaten Dublin University side that currently lies second in the table.

The students have one of the best playmakers and place-kickers around in out-half Cathal Marsh. Bruff must keep tabs on him to be in with a chance.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, November 29, 2008: Bruff 13 Dublin University 12, Kilballyowen Park

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

DUNGANNON (5th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (6th), Stevenson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dungannon: LLW; Belfast Harlequins: LLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: Peter Nelson, Jaryd Bennett 11 each; Tries: Chris Cochrane 2; Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 12; Tries: Adam D’Arcy 2

Preview: Both of these sides got their season going with wins last Saturday. In Dungannon’s case, it was an excellent bonus point away success over Buccaneers.

Brothers Steve and Glen Sinnamon got tries as Dungannon at last displayed some of last season’s flair. Another win would do wonders for their confidence.

But Belfast Harlequins are unlikely to roll over. They have a potential match winner in out-half Stuart Olding, the Ireland Under-20 international.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2011: Belfast Harlequins 15 Dungannon 27, Deramore Park; Saturday, February 11, 2012: Dungannon 17 Belfast Harlequins 44, Stevenson Park

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

MALONE (1st) v UCD (4th), Gibson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Malone: WWW; UCD: WWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Malone: Points: Niall O’Connor 45; Tries: Glenn Moore, Chris Leathem 4 each; UCD: Points: James Thornton 30; Tries: Barry Daly 3

Preview: The match of the day in Division 1B. So far, no one has come remotely close to stopping the Malone machine.

In winning their three games to top the table, they have scored a remarkable 142 points and picked up three bonus points. Furthermore, Niall O’Connor does not seem to miss very often with the boot.

UCD should, however, give them something to think about, providing they can rediscover the form which saw them win their opening two matches so impressively. Unfortunately, they fell below that standard when losing at home to Ballynahinch last weekend.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 27, 2010: Malone 51 UCD 28, Gibson Park; Saturday, April 2, 2011: UCD 61 Malone 17, Belfield

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Malone to win by 10+ points