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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ballynahinch can seal the Division 1B title with a win this weekend, while their chief chasers UCD and Dublin University are angling for a promotion play-off spot


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (1st) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th), Shaw’s Bridge, 3pm (Match moved due to waterlogged pitch at Ballymacarn Park)

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: WWWWWWWDWWLWWWW; Blackrock College: LLLLWWLLWDDWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Michael Lawton 119; Tries: Adam Craig 9; Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 112; Tries: Job Langbroek 5

Preview: Ballynahinch can make certain of the title and promotion. They are nine points clear, and such is their impressive points difference, just one more point would do it.

But they will, of course, be looking to add to their impressive string of victories. Blackrock have enjoyed a very good second half to the league to move up to fifth in the table after a dismal start.

But it is hard to visualise them spoiling Ballynahinch’s celebrations. Not only can the Ulster side win in style but they can also succeed in the close games as they demonstrated when number 8 Michael Graham’s injury-time try gave them victory over Dublin University last Saturday.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, November 3, 2012: Blackrock College 19 Ballynahinch 52, Stradbrook

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

BELFAST HARLEQUINS (6th) v DUNGANNON (8th), Deramore Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: LLWWWLWWWLDWLLLL; Dungannon: LLWLLLLDWLLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 88; Tries: Rory Scholes, Stuart Olding, Mark Kettyle 3 each; Dungannon: Points: Stuart McCloskey 48; Tries: Ali Birch, Chris Cochrane 5 each

Preview: Dungannon are now 10 points clear of the bottom two, Bruff and Ballymena, following some recent improved performances.

With the pressure off, there is every chance they can secure another victory against their Ulster rivals.

They have some quality players, two of which – Ulster’s Chris Cochrane and Ali Birch – have scored try hat-tricks in recent outings.

Belfast Harlequins, for their part, have spent most their time around mid-table. Their most recent game saw them go down 39-22 to Buccaneers but they did field an experimental team.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 11, 2012: Dungannon 17 Belfast Harlequins 44, Stevenson Park; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Dungannon 13 Belfast Harlequins 23, Stevenson Park

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

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (3rd) v BRUFF (9th), College Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dublin University: WWWWWWLLLWWLWWWL; Bruff: WLLLLWLLLLLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Cathal Marsh 97; Tries: Niyi Adeolokun 10; Bruff: Points: Brian Carroll 46; Tries: Brendan Deady, Mark Cosgrave, Michael Carroll, Dumani Mtya, Willie Casey 2 each

Preview: Unfortunatey, Dublin University’s chance of getting second spot and a promotion/relegation play-off game may well have disappeared following their narrow defeat to Ballynahinch.

They were bitterly disappointed to go down to an injury-time try against the league leaders. Still, they must keep going in the hope that UCD, who have a game in hand, will slip up.

Flanker Pierce Dargan continues to impress for Trinity and they should undoubtedly be good enough to defeat a struggling Bruff outfit desperate to stay ahead of Ballymena at the bottom of the table.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 29, 2008: Bruff 13 Dublin University 12, Kilballyowen Park; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Bruff 6 Dublin University 12, Kilballyowen Park

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

UCD (2nd) v MALONE (7th), Belfield

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WWLWLLWLWWWWWWW; Malone: WWWLLLLDLWWLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Thornton 109; Tries: Barry Daly 12; Malone: Points: Niall O’Connor 68; Tries: Michael Barker 8

Preview: It is hard to visualise UCD wasting their chance of getting second place and a promotion/relegation match against the team finishing second last in Division 1A.

Their form has been outstanding lately, while Malone would appear to be a shadow of the side which started the season in such impressive fashion. Everything points to a UCD victory.

They remain particularly dangerous behind the scrum, with two of their backs, Andrew Boyle and Sam Coghlan Murray having featured in the Leinster ‘A’ team’s 30-26 British & Irish Cup quarter-final victory over Bristol last weekend.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 2, 2011: UCD 61 Malone 17, Belfield; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Malone 15 UCD 18, Gibson Park

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

BUCCANEERS (4th) v BALLYMENA (10th), Dubarry Park, 7pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: LWLWWWWWLDWWLLW; Ballymena: LLLLLLWDLLLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 157; Tries: Alex Hayman 8; Ballymena: Points: Tim Small 23; Tries: Connor Smyth 4

Preview: Ballymena could yet move away from bottom spot following their 29-14 home success over fellow strugglers Bruff.

But this is a very tough task against a Buccaneers side that lies fourth in the table. Furthermore, they showed their well being by putting 39 points on Belfast Harlequins last Saturday.

Once again, Alex Hayman with two tries and captain Kolo Kiripati with another, were key performers. It will take a very big performance if Ballymena are to come away with anything.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 28, 2012: Buccaneers 6 Ballymena 8, Dubarry Park; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Ballymena 13 Buccaneers 17, Eaton Park

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