Every game counts in Division 1A, none more so than the clash at Castle Avenue where leaders Clontarf host third-placed Young Munster this Saturday.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 30
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (1st) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LWWWWW; Young Munster: WWLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 82; Tries: Michael McGrath 4; Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 66; Tries: Derry O’Connor 4
Preview: Can leaders Clontarf register a sixth successive victory when they take on third-placed Young Munster in the match of the day at Castle Avenue?
Much will clearly depend on their pack and the ability of their out-half David Joyce to continue his such outstanding goal-kicking form. Remarkably, Joyce has accumulated 41 points in his last two matches.
After landing six penalties and a conversion in the 25-16 victory over UCD, he followed that up by kicking seven penalties in helping Clontarf beat Cork Constitution 26-13 last Saturday. That is a fantastic effort by the former Dublin University man.
But Clontarf will face tough opponents in Young Munster. They have surprised a lot of people by their impressive start to their campaign and have a top class points scorer of their own in Brian Haugh.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 3, 2012: Young Munster 11 Clontarf 18, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, February 23, 2013: Clontarf 35 Young Munster 10, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
DOLPHIN (6th) v BALLYNAHINCH (9th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: WWLLWL; Ballynahinch: LLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 36; Tries: Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam, Cian Bohane 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Richie Lobb 40; Tries: Aaron Ferris 2
Preview: It is imperative that Dolphin get back to winning form after their disappointing 18-7 away defeat to Young Munster last time out.
On the face of it, they should do so but they will surely not make the mistake of underestimating Ballynahinch. They are a decent enough outfit, despite their position in second last place in the table.
After giving Old Belvedere a tough match, ‘Hinch at last secured their first victory when defeating bottom side Garryowen 18-6 last weekend.
Ross Adair proved a very good late replacement at out-half, scoring one of their two tries.
Dolphin will be looking for a repeat of their performance which saw them beat Cork Constitution in their last home outing. Centre Cian Bohane and out-half Rory Scannell are sure to be important figures.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 5, 2005: Ballynahinch 6 Dolphin 26, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, January 14, 2006: Dolphin 42 Ballynahinch 17, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
GARRYOWEN (10th) v LANSDOWNE (7th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: LLLLLL; Lansdowne: LLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 31; Tries: Harry McNulty 2; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 40; Tries: Cian Aherne 4
Preview: Garryowen fans must be wondering when their side is going to secure their first victory. They wasted a big chance in their last home game against Young Munster.
Unfortunately, they were then well beaten by Ballynahinch, leaving them six points adrift at the bottom of the table. Very obviously, they must get a result pretty quickly.
Thankfully, from their point of view, the current Lansdowne outfit is nowhere near as good as the team that travelled to Dooradoyle last season and won 23-0. That was probably Lansdowen’s best display of their title-winning campaign.
Given the amount of players they have lost, they have done okay to have won three out of six. That said, last Saturday’s home 22-13 defeat to Old Belvedere was a disappointing effort.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 26, 2013: Garryowen 0 Lansdowne 23, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 16, 2013: Lansdowne 34 Garryowen 22, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th) v OLD BELVEDERE (2nd), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LLWLLW; Old Belvedere: WLDWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 23; Tries: Cathal Marsh, Mark Sexton, Chris Lilly, Gareth Austen 2 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie, Daniel Riordan 25 each; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5
Preview: This is another big challenge for the surprise team so far in Division 1A this season, Old Belvedere. So far they seem to have come up with all the answers.
To go to the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium and beat Lansdowne was an impressive effort. Once again, Jack Conan added to his reputation in the pack and Steve Crosbie and skipper Daniel Riordan delivered behind the scrum.
While Old Belvedere lie second, just a point behind the leaders, St. Mary’s are down the table, third from bottom. But they may well have gone a long way to turning their season around following their 18-16 success at UCD.
That results suggests that they are going to get a lot better.
So, Old Belvedere will appreciate that they are going to have to play really well if they are to secure another victory here.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 9, 2012: St. Mary’s College 16 Old Belvedere 18, Templeville Road; Saturday, March 30, 2013: Old Belvedere 25 St. Mary’s College 13, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points
UCD (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (5th), Belfield
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WWWWLL; Cork Constitution: WWDWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Thornton 41; Tries: Andrew Boyle, Eoin Joyce, Alex Kelly, Sam Coghlan Murray 2 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 28; Tries: James Ryan 3
Preview: After losing two on the trot, UCD cannot afford another slip-up. Then again, the same can be said of Cork Constitution.
The two sides have dropped to fourth and fifth spots in the table having previously led the way. For UCD the obvious target is to provide their pacey backs division with the right sort of ball.
Last weekend’s late loss at home to St. Mary’s was a big disappointment. Cork Con, for their part, were comprehensively beaten 26-13 at Temple Hill by leaders Clontarf.
Their try from Conor Desmond was only a consolation effort in the closing minutes. They must hope to do a lot better if they are to beat the students on their home patch.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 15, 2007: Cork Constitution 46 UCD 13, Temple Hill; Saturday, October 11, 2008: UCD 7 Cork Constitution 9, Belfield
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win by 1-5 points