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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ballynahinch remain on course for promotion as they host Malone under the Ballymacarn Park floodlights tonight. Meanwhile, struggling Ulster rivals Ballymena and Dungannon face off in a potential relegation decider on Saturday afternoon.

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

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (1st) v MALONE (5th), Ballymacarn Park, 7.30pm, Friday, March 15

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: WWWWWWWDWWLWW; Malone: WWWLLLLDLWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Michael Lawton 95; Tries: Adam Craig 9; Malone: Points: Josh Pentland 60; Tries: Michael Barker 8

Preview: Leaders Ballynahinch remain very much on course for automatic promotion but there is nothing straightforward about this Friday Night Lights encounter at Ballymacarn Park.

Malone did, after all, earn a 15-15 draw against Ballynahinch when the sides met at Gibson Park. At their best, they are a pretty decent outfit.

But Ballynahinch, in their current mood, must be fancied to secure a victory. They scored nine tries in demolishing Bruff 57-7 away while they also have a top class place-kicker in winger Michael Lawton.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 29, 2011: Malone 21 Ballynahinch 59, Gibson Park; Saturday, January 5, 2013: Malone 15 Ballynahinch 15, Gibson Park

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

BELFAST HARLEQUINS (6th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (3rd), Deramore Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: LLWWWLWWWLDWL; Dublin University: WWWWWWLLLWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 84; Tries: Rory Scholes, Stuart Olding, Mark Kettyle 3 each; Dublin University: Points: Cathal Marsh 72; Tries: Niyi Adeolokun 9

Preview: Dublin University simply cannot afford any slip-ups as they bid to maintain their pormotion bid.

Currently they lie in third spot just a point behind UCD. After losing to their Belfield rivals in the Colours match, they recorded a really important 23-19 home success over Buccaneers with the dangerous Niyi Adeolokun getting one of their tries.

Belfast Harlequins, however, should represent a difficult enough challenge on their home ground. They have been in the top half of the table for most of the season but their most recent 26-22 defeat by Malone has left them in sixth spot.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 23, 2010: Belfast Harlequins 12 Dublin University 10, Deramore Park; Saturday, January 5, 2013: Dublin University 16 Belfast Harlequins 20, College Park

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

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (7th) v BRUFF (9th), Stradbrook

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: LLLLWWLLWDDWW; Bruff: WLLLLWLLLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 93; Tries: Job Langbroek 5; Bruff: Points: Brian Cahill 41; Tries: Brendan Deady, Mark Cosgrave, Michael Carroll, Dumani Mtya 2 each

Preview: It now seems a long time ago that Blackrock College supporters were seriously worried about the possibility of relegation.

Their most recent 32-17 away success over Ballymena means that they have moved well clear of the three bottom sides. Sadly Bruff, by comparison, are still right in the thick of the relegation battle in second last spot.

It is a straight battle between Bruff, bottom side Ballymena and Dungannon with just five points separating them. Bruff will really have to lift themselves considerably after their crushing 57-7 home defeat by Ballynahinch last time out.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, January 5, 2013: Bruff 3 Blackrock College 6, Kilballyowen Park

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

DUNGANNON (8th) v BALLYMENA (10th), Stevenson Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dungannon: LLWLLLLDWLLLL; Ballymena: LLLLLLWDLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: Stuart McCloskey 32; Tries: Chris Cochrane, Ali Birch, Mark Jenkinson, Jaryd Bennett 2 each; Ballymena: Points: Tim Small 23; Tries: Darrell Montgomery, Connor Smyth 3 each

Preview: A huge relegation battle between two of the bottom three sides in the table. Although Dungannon are in the better position, lying third from bottom, their confidence cannot be very high just now.

Their 84-15 annihilation by UCD on their home patch in their last outing demonstrated the enormous gap between the top and bottom sides.

Fortunately, Dungannon are not playing a side approaching UCD’s level in Ballymena. They, in fact, are in an even worse situation than their Ulster rivals, lying last in the table with just one win. So, there is a huge amount at stake here.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 14, 2012: Dungannon 37 Ballymena 15, Stevenson Park; Saturday, January 5, 2013: Ballymena 9 Dungannon 9, Eaton Park

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

UCD (2nd) v BUCCANEERS (4th), Belfield

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WWLWLLWLWWWWW; Buccaneers: LWLWWWWWLDWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Thornton 101; Tries: Barry Daly 9; Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 149; Tries: Alex Hayman, Kolo Kiripati 6 each

Preview: It will be interesting to see how UCD perform after their effort in scoring 14 tries, with three of them coming from the prolific Sam Coghlan Murray, in their recent demolition of Dungannon.

The one thing they can be sure about is that Buccaneers are going to prove a different proposition altogether. They are currently in fourth, some five points behind second-placed UCD.

Consequently, a win at Belfield would be a major boost to their promotion ambitions. They did beat the Dublin students at their home ground in Athlone but UCD, in their current mood, are bound to fancy their chances of taking revenge.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 4, 2012: UCD 15 Buccaneers 16, Belfield; Saturday, January 5, 2013: Buccaneers 25 UCD 20, Dubarry Park

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