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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

There is a feast of ‘Friday Night Lights’ games in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League. Why not kick off the international weekend with a visit to your local club and see some of the rising young stars in Irish rugby?


Kick-off 7.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (3rd) v UCD (1st), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LWWW; UCD: WWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 41; Tries: Michael McGrath 4; UCD: Points: James Thornton 36; Tries: Andrew Boyle, Eoin Joyce, Alex Kelly 2 each

Preview: First against third and a cracking game in prospect. Leaders UCD have not put a foot wrong so far, winning all of their four games.

But this is likely to be their toughest test against an experienced Clontarf side that has won their last three outings. They will be looking to their pack, the accurate goal-kicking of David Joyce and the finishing power of winger Michael McGrath.

The key to beating UCD is denying them the right sort of possession. If the students secure even a reasonable share of the ball, their backs division is capable of being devastating.

They were outstanding in the second half when getting a bonus point against Dolphin last time out. Dan Leavy and Conor Gilsenan will be key figures in their back row with winger Sam Coghlan Murray and full-back Andrew Boyle among the major threats out wide.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 12, 2008: UCD 8 Clontarf 14, Belfield; Saturday, January 17, 2009: Clontarf 8 UCD 14, Castle Avenue

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

DOLPHIN (6th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd), Musgrave Park (live on IrishRugby.ie)

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: WWLL; Cork Constitution: WWDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 25; Tries: Rory Scannell 2; Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons, Johnny Holland 19 each; Tries: James Ryan 3

Preview: Dolphin must feel they deserve a break against their great rivals Cork Constitution. Every time they have them beaten, Cork Con seem to snatch victory with a late score.

And they just do not do it against Dolphin, they also grabbed a late win against Garryowen last weekend. Bryan Cagney’s last-minute try has kept Cork Con in second position in the table, two points behind UCD.

Dolphin have lost two games on the trot, after winning their first two, to drop down to mid-table. But they did not play that badly when losing 22-7 to UCD at Belfield last Saturday.

Having lost twice narrowly to Cork Con last season, they would like nothing better than to put one over them in this game. It is going to be another close and hugely competitive encounter.

Watch the game live on IrishRugby.ie

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 9, 2012: Cork Constitution 18 Dolphin 13, Temple Hill; Friday, March 29, 2013: Dolphin 24 Cork Constitution 27, Musgrave Park

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

GARRYOWEN (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), Dooradoyle

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: LLLL; Young Munster: WWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 22; Tries: Harry McNulty 2; Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 47; Tries: Derry O’Connor 4

Preview: Could this be the occasion that Garryowen secure their first victory of the current league campaign? Disappointingly, last season’s runners-up lie bottom of the table with just one point to their name.

But there were definite signs of encouragement against Cork Constitution last time out. They looked to be in with a great chance of winning when 15-7 ahead in the second half.

Unfortunately for them, Constitution snatched a late win. While it was devastating for Garryowen, they were much improved from some of their earlier performances.

Flanker Barry O’Mahony is going to be a key figure against a Young Munster team that has won two out of four so far.

Surprisingly, their goal-kicking let them down against Old Belvedere last Saturday when they scored two tries to one but still lost 13-10.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, November 18, 2012: Young Munster 14 Garryowen 21, Tom Clifford Park; Friday, March 22, 2013: Garryowen 20 Young Munster 14, Dooradoyle

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

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th) v LANSDOWNE (7th), Templeville Road

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LLWL; Lansdowne: LLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 23; Tries: Cathal Marsh 2; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 35; Tries: Cian Aherne 4

Preview: Surprising to see these two teams in the bottom half of the table, although Lansdowne have pulled things together to win their last two games.

They now lie fourth from bottom, four points ahead of St. Mary’s in third last spot. St. Mary’s desperately need to get something going quickly.

They will, however, feel they are in with a chance at Templeville Road as Lansdowne are not the team that swept all before them last season.

There are simply too many players missing. But it is to their credit that they have responded by winning their
last two. They still have some very dangerous players in their back-line, most notably Cian Aherne on the right wing.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 26, 2012: St. Mary’s College 9 Lansdowne 29, Templeville Road; Saturday, March 16, 2013: Lansdowne 35 St. Mary’s College 6, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points

OLD BELVEDERE (4th) v BALLYNAHINCH (9th), Anglesea Road, Saturday, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLDW; Ballynahinch: LLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 17; Tries: John Kennedy, Daniel Riordan 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Richie Lobb 24; Tries: Aaron Ferris, James McBriar, Paul Pritchard, Adam Craig 1 each

Preview: Old Belvedere must be seen as one of the success stories of the season to date under the coaching of Paul Cunningham.

Despite having to play the two leaders UCD and Cork Con, they have managed an excellent start which sees them currently lying fourth in the table.

Jack Conan at number 8 continues to impress, while out-half Steve Crosbie also added to his reputation in last Saturday’s 13-10 away success over Young Munster.

Not a lot has gone right for Ballynahinch. But they are obviously better than their four defeats and second-from-bottom position in the table would indicate.

Generally, they have tended to be reasonably competitive without getting a result. So, while Old Belvedere will undoubtedly be favourites, they would be unwise to take anything for granted.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Ballynahinch 10 Old Belvedere 29, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, March 27, 2010: Old Belvedere 57 Ballynahinch 38, Anglesea Road

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