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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

The most wins, the highest points scored and the least points conceded. Unbeaten Ballynahinch are fully deserving of their nine-point lead at the top of Division 1B. But with third-placed UCD visiting on Saturday, the County Down club can ill-afford to let their standards slip.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, February 16

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYMENA (10th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd), Eaton Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: LLLLLLWDLL; Dublin University: WWWWWWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Tim Small 23; Tries: Conor Smyth, Darrell Montgomery 2 each; Dublin University: Points: Cathal Marsh 56; Tries: Niyi Adeolukan 6

Preview: Desperate times for Ballymena as they attempt to get away from the bottom of the table. They will not find it easy against second-placed Dublin University.

After losing so many players, it has been a tough season for Ballymena. Their hopes of an improvement were not helped by a 26-5 trouncing by Malone last time out.

But Dublin University would be unwise to take anything for granted. They went through a tough period themselves, losing two in-a-row before returning to winning form with a 24-16 home victory over Dungannon.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2011: Ballymena 26 Dublin University 19, Eaton Park; Saturday, October 27, 2012: Dublin University 25 Ballymena 11, College Park

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

BALLYNAHINCH (1st) v UCD (3rd), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: WWWWWWWDWW; UCD: WWLWLLWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 94; Tries: Adam Craig 8; UCD: Points: James Thornton 82; Tries: Barry Daly 7

Preview: Match of the day in this division. Runaway league leaders Ballynahinch seem to be unstoppable following their 36-3 demolition of Belfast Harlequins.

‘Quins were expected to make a match of it but were simply blown away as Ballynhinch scored five tries, two of them coming from Adam Craig.

So, UCD have a big job on their hands. But they will travel to Ballymacarn Park in good form with some impressive recent victories to move up to third spot in the table. Last time out, they trounced Bruff 26-3 away with Conor Gilsenan adding to his growing reputation.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 31, 2012: UCD 25 Ballynahinch 12, Belfield; Saturday, October 27, 2012: UCD 13 Ballynahinch 24, Belfield

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

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (7th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (5th), Stradbrook

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: LLLLWWLLWD; Belfast Harlequins: LLWWWLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 54; Tries: Jan-Simon Byrne, Job Langbroek 3 each; Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 51; Tries: Rory Scholes, Stuart Olding 3 each

Preview: Slowly but surely Blackrock have moved away from the bottom of the table. Their last effort saw them feature in a remarkable 36-36 away draw with Buccaneers.

The fact that they came from behind to snatch a draw with four second half tries shows that there is nothing wrong with the character in the side. They also have some pace out wide and a useful goal-kicker in Rob Keogh.

It is hard to know what to expect from Belfast Harlequins. They put together a series of decent results, including an away victory over Dublin University, but were then blitzed 36-3 by Ballynahinch.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 27, 2007: Blackrock College 36 Belfast Harlequins 43, Stradbrook; Saturday, October 27, 2012: Belfast Harlequins 27 Blackrock College 19, Deramore Park

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

BRUFF (9th) v MALONE (6th), Kilballyowen Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Bruff: WLLLLWLLLL; Malone: WWWLLLLDLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Bruff: Points: Brian Carroll 32; Tries: Brendan Deady 2; Malone: Points: Niall O’Connor 51; Tries: Michael Barker 7

Preview: Second-from-bottom Bruff would give anything to win this one. Nothing has gone right for them lately and they are curently only two points clear of bottom side Ballymena.

Quite clearly, they are going to need to show an improvement form their 26-3 home defeat to UCD.

Malone have tended to be very erratic but at their best they are a pretty formidable outfit. That was shown when they drew with league leaders Ballynahinch and in their 26-5 victory over Ballymena last time out.

Ulster out-half Niall O’Connor tends to be their key figure for the Belfast club when he is available.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 3, 2010: Bruff 28 Malone 27, Kilballyowen Park; Saturday, October 27, 2012: Malone 46 Bruff 3, Gibson Park

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

DUNGANNON (8th) v BUCCANEERS (4th), Stevenson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dungannon: LLWLLLLDWL; Buccaneers: LWLWWWWWLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: Jaryd Bennett 24; Tries: Chris Cochrane, Ali Birch 2 each; Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 101; Tries: Alex Hayman 6

Preview: Dungannon showed signs of an improvement when losing 24-16 away to Dublin University. But they badly need to register some victories if they are to move clear of the relegation zone.

Currently they lie third-from-bottom just two points ahead of Bruff. You feel that they should be capable of better given that they have some good young talent which includes Chris Cochrane and Ali Birch.

Buccaneers, currently in fourth spot, will not be in the mood to do them any favours. But the visitors will obviously need to improve on their defensive effort against Blackrock which saw them concede 36 points.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 24, 2012: Dungannon 47 Buccaneers 3, Stevenson Park; Saturday, October 27, 2012: Buccaneers 12 Dungannon 26, Dubarry Park

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