Division 1A pacesetters Cork Constitution travel to Old Belvedere this weekend. Can they maintain their top of the table position as the Ulster Bank League resumes?
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 26
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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DOLPHIN (2nd) v CLONTARF (5th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: WW; Clontarf: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 20; Tries: Eamonn Mills, Rory Scannell, James Kiernan, Steve Hansel, Darren Sweetnam 1 each; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 21; Tries: Michael McGrath 2
Preview: An intriguing game in prospect between an unbeaten Dolphin outfit and a Clontarf side that put 33 points on Garryowen last time out.
Following a start which has seen them win their opening two games, Dolphin could well emerge as real contenders this season. Rory Scannell has quite rightly been grabbing the headlines with his scoring exploits.
But Ireland Under-20 winger Darren Sweetnam has also made a big impression, scoring a crucial try in the most recent victory over St. Mary’s. That said, they will need to be at their best to beat Clontarf.
Andy Wood’s team responded well to their opening defeat to Old Belvedere with that bonus point success over Garryowen.
Importantly, David Joyce and Max McFarland, two captures from Dublin University, have settled very well into their backs division.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 17, 2012: Dolphin 18 Clontarf 20, Musgrave Park; Saturday, April 6, 2013: Clontarf 26 Dolphin 31, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
GARRYOWEN (10th) v UCD (4th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: LL; UCD: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 11; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne 1; UCD: Points: James Thornton 30; Tries: Andrew Boyle 2
Preview: This is UCD’s first visit to Limerick since beating Shannon in the promotion/relegation game at the end of last season.
They have continued the good work by starting their Division 1A campaign with victories over Lansdowne and Old Belvedere. Everything suggests that they can make an impact in the top flight.
Winger Sam Coghlan Murray carries a real threat, as do most of their back-line. Bottom side Garryowen simply must deny them quality possession.
Clearly, last season’s runners-up are going to have to improve hugely from their 33-3 hammering by Clontarf. Head coach Tom Tierney is, however, optimistic that he will have a stronger team on duty this time around.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 19, 2008: Garryowen 34 UCD 13, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 21, 2009: UCD 7 Garryowen 14, Belfield
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win by 1-5 points
LANSDOWNE (9th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: LL; Young Munster: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 15; Tries: Cian Aherne 2; Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 25; Tries: Derry O’Connor 3
Preview: Who would have believed that Lansdowne would be down at the bottom end of the table following comprehensive defeats in their first two games?
To be fair, the holders have not been helped by the loss of representative players and injuries. They were only a pale shadow of last season’s outfit when losing 33-16 to Cork Constitution last time out.
Head coach Mike Ruddock badly needs to get his strongest team on the pitch. Otherwise, they are facing the prospect of a further setback against a Young Munster side that has started with two victories.
Munsters have done exceptionally well to defeat St. Mary’s and Ballynahinch. Talented half-back Brian Haugh is in outstanding goal-kicking form, while winger Derry O’Connor added to his reputation with two tries against Ballynahinch.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 1, 2012: Young Munster 16 Lansdowne 15, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, March 2, 2013: Lansdowne 37 Young Munster 17, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE (6th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WL; Cork Constitution: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 14; Tries: John Kennedy, Daniel Riordan 2 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 19; Tries: James Ryan 2
Preview: Leaders Cork Constitution will definitely not be taking anything for granted for their visit to Anglesea Road to face Old Belvedere.
So far, it has been the prefect start for the new coaching set-up at Cork Con. They were much too good for Lansdowne last time out, beating them 33-16, with James Ryan getting two tries.
Another victory would keep the momentum going but Old Belvedere are quite capable of pulling off an upset. They did, after all, come from 15 points down to beat Clontarf at home first time out and they then provided UCD with considerable second half problems before losing 33-26 at Belfield.
‘Belvo head coach Paul Cunningham has made a very decent start with his combination of younger players and more experienced individuals like Daniel Riordan. The full-back remains captable of causing problems given half a chance.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 17, 2012: Old Belvedere 44 Cork Constitution 13, Anglesea Road; Saturday, March 23, 2013: Cork Constitution 37 Old Belvedere 32, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th) v BALLYNAHINCH (8th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LL; Ballynahinch: LL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Cathal Marsh 10; Tries: Cathal Marsh 2; Ballynahinch: Points: Richie Lobb 20; Tries: Aaron Ferris, James McBriar 1 each
Preview: A must win game for St. Mary’s following defeats in their opening two games. Unfortunately, they did not help themselves by getting a player sent off in their opening defeat to Young Munster.
They then found themselves in a tough away encounter against Dolphin which they lost 15-10. But they are clearly a much better side than their current lowly position indicates.
For example, they had three players – Darren Hudson, Darragh Fanning and Cathal Marsh – in the Leinster ‘A’ back-line against Moseley last weekend. So, if they have their top players available, they should still be a force.
Ballynahinch have also lost their opening two games. But they did finish ahead of UCD to win the Division 1B title last season which suggests that they should definitely not be underestimated.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points