Clontarf and St. Mary’s College kick off the weekend with a Friday Night Lights clash at Castle Avenue. On Saturday unbeaten UCD host Dolphin, champions Lansdowne travel to Ballynahinch, Cork Constitution face Garryowen and Young Munster entertain Old Belvedere.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 2
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (3rd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), Castle Avenue, 7.30pm, Friday, November 1
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LWW; St. Mary’s College: LLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 27; Tries: Michael McGrath 3; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 15; Tries: Cathal Marsh 2
Preview: Clontarf will go top of the league, at least until Saturday, if they can manage a third successive victory. On current form, they would appear to be in a good position to do so.
The north Dubliners produced an outstanding effort to travel to Musgrave Park to defeat previously unbeaten Dolphin 21-15 last weekend.
Head coach Andy Wood has clearly sorted things out following their surprise opening round defeat to Old Belvedere. They have a strong pack and good half-backs, while winger Michael McGrath appears on top of his game at present.
St. Mary’s College had to wait until last Saturday before getting their first victory over lowly Ballynahinch. But they did the double over Clontarf last season and are well capable of lifting their game.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 5, 2013: St. Mary’s College 16 Clontarf 3, Templeville Road; Friday, February 1, 2013: Clontarf 17 St. Mary’s College 19, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 6-10 points
BALLYNAHINCH (9th) v LANSDOWNE (8th), Ballymacarn Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LLL; Lansdowne: LLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Richie Lobb 20; Tries: Aaron Ferris, James McBriar 1 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 24; Tries: Cian Aherne 3
Preview: After their bonus point success over Young Munster last weekend, Lansdowne will be hoping to get their season really going with a second victory away to Ballynahinch.
But it may not be as straightforward as it seems. Although Ballynahinch have yet to win and lie second last in the table, they are quite capable of making life difficult for Lansdowne.
They are usually at their best on their home ground. In their only match at Ballymacarn Park to date on the opening day of the season, they ran Cork Constitution close before going down 24-17.
Still, it will be a disappointment for Lansdowne if they cannot manage a second league triumph. After trailing at half-time, they played some good rugby in the second half against Young Munster with Cian Aherne and Mark Roche very dangerous.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 13, 2008: Lansdowne 13 Ballynahinch 10, the RDS; Monday, May 4, 2009: Ballynahinch 29 Lansdowne 13, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (10th), Temple HIll
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WWD; Garryowen: LLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 19; Tries: James Ryan 2; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 17; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne, Harry McNulty 1 each
Preview: Second-placed Cork Constitution will be eager to get back to winning form after their hard fought 3-3 draw with Old Belvedere in Dublin.
They should do so, given Garryowen’s start to the season. The Limerick outfit are bottom of the table without a point to their name.
Cork Con will, however, be conscious that last season’s runners-up have to improve sometime. Garryowen appear to have put in a decent enough first half effort against UCD but could not live with the students in the second half.
They will face tough opponents in Cork Con. This is their first match at the home venue since their impressive flanker James Ryan scored two tries in a 33-16 victory over Lansdowne.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 5, 2013: Cork Constitution 14 Garryowen 20, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 2, 2013: Garryowen 18 Cork Constitution 21, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
UCD (1st) v DOLPHIN (4th), Belfield
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WWW; Dolphin: WWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Thornton 34; Tries: Andrew Boyle 2; Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 20; Tries: Eamonn Mills, Rory Scannell, James Kiernan, Steve Hansel, Darren Sweetnam, Cian Bohane, John Gleeson 1 each
Preview: Surely the match of the day with leaders UCD taking on fourth-placed Dolphin. Everything suggests a cracking encounter if the conditions are at all favourable.
So far, the students have done everything right with the possible exceptional of not picking up a try-scoring bonus point. In each of their three victories they have had to settle for three tries.
It says a lot for their team that their tries have been pretty well spread out. The emerging Daniel Leavy got one of them in the 25-11 away success over Garryowen.
But Dolphin are also a fine side with two victories in their three games. After losing their ubeaten record to Clontarf, they would like nothing better than to bounce back with an away success at Belfield.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 16, 2008: UCD 23 Dolphin 28, Belfield; Sunday, March 8, 2009: Dolphin 29 UCD 12, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win by 1-5 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (5th) v OLD BELVEDERE (6th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWL; Old Belvedere: WLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 47; Tries: Derry O’Connor 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 17; Tries: John Kennedy, Daniel Riordan 2 each
Preview: A very competitive game in prospect between two teams that have made better than expected starts to their leage campaign.
While Young Munster lost their unbeaten record to Lansdowne last time out, they were well in it for long stages. Indeed, they led 13-7 at half-time before eventually having to settle for a losing bonus point.
Old Belvedere head coach Paul Cunningham was delighted to come away with eight points from a very tough opening schedule against Clontarf, UCD and Cork Constitution.
Last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Cork Con, played in dreadful conditions, showed that ‘Belvo can battle when required.
Those qualities will undoubtedly be needed for their visit to Tom Clifford Park. Brian Haugh, having scored all of Young Munster’s 22 points against Lansdowne, represents a big threat to the visiting Dubliners’ hopes.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 5, 2013: Young Munster 40 Old Belvedere 3, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, February 2, 2013: Old Belvedere 8 Young Munster 10, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points