Ballynhinch and Dublin University lead the way unbeaten at the top of Division 1B. ‘Hinch are away to Ballymena on Saturday afternoon, while Trinity are at home to student rivals UCD at College Park.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, November 17
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BALLYMENA (10th) v BALLYNAHINCH (1st), Eaton Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: LLLLL; Ballynahinch: WWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Niall Martin 16; Tries: Niall Martin, John Andrew, Darrell Montgomery 1 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 60; Tries: Chris Quinn 5
Preview: Last against first. On the face of it, this should be pretty straightforward with Ballynahinch securing their sixth successive victory.
That said, the Ballynahinch head coach Derek Suffern will undoubtedly be warning his players not to take anything for granted. Look, after all, what happened to UCD at home to Blackrock in the previous round.
Nonetheless, Ballynahinch must be fancied to win. Winger Chris Quinn continues to carry a major threat, adding to his reputation with another try against Dungannon last time out.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 3, 2011: Ballymena 6 Ballynahinch 3, Eaton Park; Saturday, March 24, 2012: Ballynahinch 25 Ballymena 20, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win by 10+ points
BRUFF (8th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (6th), Kilballyowen Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Bruff: WLLLL; Belfast Harlequins: LLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Bruff: Points: Brian Carroll 29; Tries: Brendan Deady 2; Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 36; Tries: Adam D’Arcy, Stuart Olding, Rory Scholes 2 each
Preview: Bruff will be glad to get back to their home ground after some very poor away results in the Ulster Bank League.
So far, it has been a disappointing campaign with only one win in their five matches. It leaves them third last in the table, now just a point ahead of Blackrock College. Consequently, it is essential that they return to winning form.
Belfast Harlequins, however, will represent reasonably tough opposition, particularly if Michael Heaney – should he be available – repeats the goal-kicking form he showed in the 16-11 victory over Ballymena.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 3, 2011: Bruff 10 Belfast Harlequins 6, Kilballyowen Park; Saturday, March 24, 2012: Belfast Harlequins 23 Bruff 26, Deramore Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Belfast Harlequins to win by 1-5 points
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd) v UCD (4th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dublin University: WWWWW; UCD: WWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Cathal Marsh 42; Tries: Niyi Adeolukan 3; UCD: Points: James Thornton 33; Tries: Barry Daly 4
Preview: A terrific match in prospect. Dublin University’s dramatic 28-24 victory over Malone last Saturday extended their winning run to five matches in the current campaign.
What is more, they are unbeaten in 17 games between this season and last. To come from 24-10 down at the interval to defeat Malone with a late Brian du Toit try was a superb collective effort.
UCD, in complete contrast, went down to a shock 19-17 home defeat to Blackrock College in their last outing. No one could have seen that coming. But they remain one of the most most talented sides in the division.
There is a huge amount at stake between these two great student rivals with Dublin University lying second and UCD fourth.
Recent League Meetings – Thursday, March 4, 2010: UCD 28 Dublin University 8, Donnybrook; Saturday, April 16, 2011: Dublin University 31 UCD 22, Donnybrook
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win by 1-5 points
DUNGANNON (7th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (9th), Stevenson Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dungannon: LLWLL; Blackrock College: LLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: Jaryd Bennett, Peter Nelson 16 each; Tries: Chris Cochrane 2; Blackrock College: Points: David Godfrey 19; Tries: Michael Carroll, Des Dillon, Jan-Simon Byrne 2 each
Preview: Blackrock College should find a lot more about themselves with this visit to Stevenson Park.
Their performance should tell whether the shock away victory over UCD was a flash in the pan or whether they really have make a significant improvement.
Once again, they will be looking to Jan-Simon Byrne to provide the inspiration and for Rob Keogh to nail his kicks.
The victory over UCD has moved Blackrock within range of some of the sides ahead of them. Dungannon are one of those, lying fourth from bottom, so there is a lot at stake in this game.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 10, 2007: Blackrock College 29 Dungannon 22, Stradbrook; Saturday, April 11, 2009: Dungannon 22 Blackrock College 14, Stevenson Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dungannon to win by 6-10 points
MALONE (3rd) v BUCCANEERS (5th), Gibson Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Malone: WWWLL; Buccaneers: LWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Malone: Points: Niall O’Connor 45; Tries: Glenn Moore 5; Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 51; Tries: Alex Hayman, David Heffernan, Conor Finn 2 each
Preview: After running run riot in their early games, Malone have been brought down to earth with a couple of defeats.
But they remain a quality outfit.
Despite those defeats, Malone are still in third spot and very much a danger to the top two, Ballynahinch and Dublin University.
Their head coach Jacques Benade must lift them after the disappointment of losing a big lead against Dublin University. No doubt, he will be looking to in-form winger Lorcan McGillan against a Buccaneers team that has also won three out of five.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, March 22, 2008: Malone 0 Buccaneers 24, Gibson Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Malone to win by 6-10 points