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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ballynahinch seem to be unstoppable at the top of the Division 1B standings while Bruff, Ballymena and Dungannon are scrapping it out to avoid the drop zone at the wrong end of the table.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, March 2

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYMENA (10th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (7th), Eaton Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: LLLLLLWDLLLL; Blackrock College: LLLLWWLLWDDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Tim Small 23; Tries: Darrell Montgomery 3; Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 88; Tries: Job Langbroek 5

Preview: Something is going to need to happen very quickly if Ballymena are to get out of trouble. Just one win in the entire league to date speaks for itself.

Last Saturday’s 66-5 humiliation at the hands of leaders Ballynahinch summed up their situation. One very obvious consolation is that Blackrock are not quite Ballynahinch.

Furthermore, Ballymena did get their only victory against them at Stradbrook. But the fact is that Blackrock have improved hugely since then, their latest 31-5 home victory over Dungannon showing just how much they have come on.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 21, 2009: Blackrock College 27 Ballymena 10, Stradbrook; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Blackrock College 18 Ballymena 23, Stradbrook

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

BRUFF (9th) v BALLYNAHINCH (1st), Kilballyowen Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Bruff: WLLLLWLLLLLL; Ballynahinch: WWWWWWWDWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Bruff: Points: Brian Cahill 34; Tries: Brendan Deady, Mark Cosgrave, Michael Carroll, Dumani Mtya 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 94; Tries: Adam Craig 9

Preview: You would have to feel for Bruff. As hard as they try they just cannot seem to get the victories they need.

So, they still lie second from bottom, just four points ahead of Ballymena and one behind Dungannon. Unfortunately, they would appear to face an impossible task against league leaders Ballynahinch.

The Ulster side proved far too good when the sides met at Ballymacarn Park. At least Bruff have home advantage this time but it would be one of ther surprises of the season if they were to turn over the league leaders.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 3, 2012: Bruff 13 Ballynahinch 8, Kilballyowen Park; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Ballynahinch 55 Bruff 3, Ballymacarn Park

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

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (3rd) v BUCCANEERS (4th), College Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dublin University: WWWWWWLLLWWL; Buccaneers: LWLWWWWWLDWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: David Joyce 61; Tries: Niyi Adeolokun 8; Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 135; Tries: Alex Hayman, Kolo Kiripati 6 each

Preview: A massive game for both teams. Dublin University lie third, level on points with UCD, and just a point ahead of Buccaneers.

The students will quite clearly be keen to put the disappointment of last weekend’s 17-10 Colours defeat to UCD behind them. They must hope that home advantage proves crucial.

They remain a good all-round side with a top class coach in Tony Smeeth. But Buccaneers represent formidable opposition as Dublin University found when they lost to them at Dubarry Park earlier in the season.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 29, 2008: Buccaneers 22 Dublin University 3, Dubarry Park; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Buccaneers 25 Dublin University 23, Dubarry Park

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

DUNGANNON (8th) v UCD (2nd), Stevenson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dungannon: LLWLLLLDWLLL; UCD: WWLWLLWLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: Jaryd Bennett 29; Tries: Chris Cochrane, Ali Birch, Mark Jenkinson, Jaryd Bennett 2 each; UCD: Points: James Thornton 95; Tries: Barry Daly 8

Preview: UCD are very much the form team of the moment having ended Ballynahinch’s unbeaten run and then defeated Dublin University last weekend.

It is a run which has brought them into second spot in the table but they cannot afford any slip ups.

On paper, the running ability of the likes of Andrew Boyle, Sam Coghlan Murray and Barry Daly should prove too much for struggling Dungannon.

The worry for the students, however, is that Dungannon are fighting for their lives and will somehow raise their game.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 21, 2012: UCD 36 Dungannon 23, Belfield; Saturday, December 1, 2012: UCD 36 Dungannon 18, Belfield

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

MALONE (6th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (5th), Gibson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Malone: WWWLLLLDLWWL; Belfast Harlequins: LLWWWLWWWLDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Malone: Points: Niall O’Connor, Josh Pentland 1 each; Tries: Michael Barker, Chris Leathem 7 each; Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 72; Tries: Rory Scholes, Stuart Olding, Mark Kettyle 3 each

Preview: Both teams seem destined to finish around mid-table. But with Malone involved, it usually tends to be pretty entertaining.

Their problem is that they have lost one more than they have won in what has been a most erratic campaign. Belfast Harlequins have done a bit better, and are currently four points ahead of their local rivals.

The fact that it is a derby game should make it lively. The contribution of the two goal-kickers – Malone’s Josh Pentland and Michael Heaney of Belfast Harlequins – is sure to prove crucial.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 16, 2011: Malone 6 Belfast Harlequins 34, Gibson Park; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Belfast Harlequins 36 Malone 3, Deramore Park

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