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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Lansdowne may have wrapped up the Ulster Bank League title and been crowned champions, but there is still a lot at stake in Division 1A – not least in the relegation zone.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 13

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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LANSDOWNE (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, 7.30pm, Friday, April 12

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WWWLWWLWWWWWWWWW; Old Belvedere: LLLWWWLLLLLLLWLW

Preview: It will be interesting to see see what attitude Lansdowne take for this Friday Night Lights encounter now that they have already make certain of the title. But all the signs are that they will be going flat out for another victory.

That, needless to say, will not make life easy for an Old Belvedere side desperate for points in their bid to steer clear of the relegation zone.

At the moment, they are third-from-bottom, four points ahead of Shannon and eight clear of bottom side UL Bohs.
Fortunately, their form has picked up at the right time, their last performance seeing them defeat St. Mary’s College 25-13.

What is more, they ran Lansdowne very close (16-9) in the opening game of the season.

But Lansdowne are a different side these days. They will be fielding a strong line-up, although centre Mark Roche will be absent because of the Fraser McMullen All-Ireland Under-21 Cup final against Dublin University on Saturday.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 14, 2012: Old Belvedere 22 Lansdowne 18, Anglesea Road; Friday, September 28, 2012: Old Belvedere 9 Lansdowne 16, Anglesea Road

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

CLONTARF (2nd) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LLWWLWWLWLWWWWLL; Cork Constitution: WLWWWLWLWWLLLWWW

Preview: Second against third. Both teams will be hoping to secure that second spot, although Cork Constitution will also have their eyes on the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup final against St. Mary’s at the end of the month.

There are four points between the teams following Clontarf’s 31-26 defeat to Dolphin last weekend. Clontarf played some decent rugby, scoring four tries but they just found an in-form Dolphin outfit too good for them.

Still, their display in running Lansdowne so close showed what a useful side they can be. Winger Mick McGrath’s try last Saturday means that he has joined Lansdowne’s Cian Aherne as the top try-scorer in the division with 12.

Cork Con will be looking to build on their dramatic injury-time success over Dolphin. With Johnny Holland playing so well at out-half, anything is possible.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 18, 2012: Clontarf 10 Cork Constitution 9, Castle Avenue; Saturday, September 29, 2012: Cork Constitution 22 Clontarf 20, Temple Hill

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

DOLPHIN (5th) v GARRYOWEN (4th), Musgrave Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LWWWLLWLLLLWWWLW; Garryowen: WWWLWWWWLLLWLLWL

Preview: Another match between two sides who could finish in second spot. Garryowen are fourth, just a point clear of Dolphin in fifth position.

On recent form, you would have to fancy Dolphin. They reacted to the bitter disappoinment of losing to Cork Constitution in injury-time with that fine bonus point away success over Clontarf.

Steve Ford’s team have been very good. Former Ireland Under-20 hooker Naill Scannell continues to add to his reputation, while full-back Eamonn Mills scored two tries against Clontarf.

By contrast, Garryowen seem to have lost their way since leading the league at the end of January. They will need to play particularly well if they are to come away from Musgrave Park with the points.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 28, 2012: Garryowen 19 Dolphin 13, Dooradoyle; Friday, September 28, 2012: Garryowen 19 Dolphin 3, Dooradoyle

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

UL BOHEMIANS (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), Annacotty

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWLWLLLLWLWLLLW; St. Marys College: WLLLLWLWLWWWWLLW

Preview: A massive game for bottom side UL Bohs. If they lose, they can surely forget about playing in the top flight next season.

To give them their due, they recovered from a couple of huge defeats to Clontarf and Lansdowne to beat Young Munster. But they could well find St. Mary’s a different proposition.

St. Mary’s showed a lot of character to come back and beat Shannon with 14 men last Saturday. Prop Rob Sweeney, sent off in that game, will be missing against UL Bohs but St. Mary’s will still be bringing a useful team to Annacotty.

Place-kicker Gavin Dunne, scorer of 17 points against Shannon, remains an important figure while winger Steve Toal-Lennon can also cause problems when given the opportunity.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 20, 2010: St. Mary’s College 39 UL Bohemians 12, Templeville Road; St. Mary’s College 17 UL Bohemians 13, Templeville Road

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

YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v SHANNON (9th), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWLLWLWWWWLLLLLL; Shannon: LLLLLLLWLWLWWLWL

Preview: This is a huge game for Shannon. They lie second-from-bottom, four points ahead of bottom side UL Bohs and four behind Old Belvedere.

Coach James Hickey was hugely disappointed to let a match-winning situation slip against St. Mary’s. Still, they are a greatly improved outfit and they have an in-form half-back pairing in Rob Guerin and Tadhg Bennett.

Remarkably, Young Munster will be trying to avoid going down to their seventh successive league defeat.
Nothing has gone right since they lost to Clontarf in late February.

But there is still a lot of pride to play for, particularly when they take on Shannon in a Limerick derby.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, February 10, 2012: Shannon 20 Young Munster 23, Thomond Park; Friday, September 28, 2012: Shannon 3 Young Munster 36, Thomond Park

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