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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

There are some fascinating fixtures in Division 1A on Saturday with teams in title contention facing those in the bottom half of the table. Meanwhile, mid-table rivals Cork Constitution and UCD meet in a precursor to their Bateman Cup decider.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 25

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (9th) v DOLPHIN (7th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LLLLLWLLW; Dolphin: WWLLWLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Richie Lobb 74; Tries: Aaron Ferris, Ross Adair, David McIlwaine 2 each; Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 46; Tries: Cian Bohane, Darren Sweetnam 3 each

Preview: Ballynahinch should not be lacking in confidence following their their outstanding 32-26 away victory over UCD.

Although they still lie second-from-bottom in the table, the result again showed that they are a pretty decent outfit.

And crucially ‘Hinch have one of the best goal-kickers around in out-half Richie Lobb. His contribution of 22 points was vital against UCD.

After a promising opening to their campaign, Dolphin have gone through an erratic patch which has seen them drop to fourth-from-bottom.

So, they can ill-afford to lose at Ballymacarn Park. There was not much between the sides when Dolphin won 25-18 at home and it promises to be a close-run contest again.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 14, 2006: Dolphin 42 Ballynahinch 17, Musgrave Park; Saturday, November 30, 2013 – Dolphin 25 Ballynahinch 18, Musgrave Park

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

CORK CONSTITUTION (6th) v UCD (5th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WWDWLLLWL; UCD: WWWWLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 40; Tries: James Ryan 4; UCD: Points: James Thornton 70; Tries: Andrew Boyle 4

Preview: Interesting fixture between two teams that have recently qualified to face one another in the Ulster Bank Bateman All-Ireland Cup final.

They did so in contrasting style with Cork Con trouncing Queen’s University 46-14, while an understrength UCD just got the better of Galwegians 21-20 in dreadful conditions at Belfield. Both sides, however, have gone off the boil in the Ulster Bank League.

UCD, the early pacesetters, have dropped to fifth with Cork Con now sixth. When the sides met at Belfield, the students came out on top 23-17 but their chances of completing the double will depend greatly on how strong a team they can put out.

Cork Con scored six tries in their demolition of Queen’s, with Darragh Lyons making a big impact in the number 10 jersey. But UCD will, of course, be an altogether different prospect.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 11, 2008: UCD 7 Cork Constitution 9, Belfield; Saturday, November 30, 2013 – UCD 23 Cork Constitution 17, Belfield

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

LANSDOWNE (4th) v GARRYOWEN (10th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: LLWWWLWWL; Garryowen: LLLLLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 71; Tries: Ron Boucher 5; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 46; Tries: Harry McNulty, Andrew O’Byrne 2 each

Preview: Big interest in this game following the confirmation that former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan has been brought in to try and somehow help Garryowen avoid relegation.

The club stress it is in an advisory capacity with Tom Tierney and Paul Neville remaining as coaches. Either way, Garryowen face a massive task if they are to avoid the drop.

They are currently without a win and 12 points adrift of Ballynahinch at the bottom. Fourth-placed Lansdowne are unlikely to be in the mood to do them any favours having narrowly lost out to the leaders Clontarf last time out.

Prior to that defeat, Lansdowne were on a really good run. One of their victories was a 35-10 away success over Garryowen, so it is going to take some turnaround for the Limerick outfit to get that elusive first victory.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 16, 2013: Lansdowne 34 Garryowen 22, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, November 30, 2013 – Garryowen 10 Lansdowne 35, Dooradoyle

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

OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Anglesea Road

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLDWWWWWW; St. Mary’s College: LLWLLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 34; Tries: Daniel Riordan, Jack Conan 5 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 46; Tries: Cathal Marsh, Mark Sexton, Chris Lilly, Gareth Austen, Robbie Hudson, Steve Toal-Lennon, Colm McMahon, Darren Hudson 2 each

Preview: Tough match in prospect for second-placed Old Belvedere against a St. Mary’s side that has generally underachieved this season.

While they currently lie third-from-bottom, they are capable of a lot better. All the more so, if Darren Hudson and captain Darragh Fanning are involved in their backs division.

That said, Old Belvedere are very much the form team. They have only lost one game and have already beaten St. Mary’s 27-24 at Templeville Road.

Significantly, some of their younger players are making a big impact. Three of them, Steve Crosbie, Peter Robb and Jack Conan, were among the try scorers in the most recent 22-10 away success over Dolphin.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 30, 2013: Old Belvedere 25 St. Mary’s College 13, Anglesea Road; Saturday, November 30, 2013 – St. Mary’s College 24 Old Belvedere 27, Templeville Road

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

YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd) v CLONTARF (1st), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWLLWWLWW; Clontarf: LWWWWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 94; Tries: Derry O’Connor 6; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 115; Tries: Michael McGrath 9

Preview: Another big test for the leaders Clontarf. They have now won eight games on the trot to lead the table by a point from Old Belvedere.

Young Munster lie in third spot, eight points adrift of Clontarf. So a victory here could open things right up.

They know exactly what to expect having lost 46-28 away to Clontarf at the end of November. On that occasion, Young Munster just could not come to terms with the finishing power of the Clontarf winger Michael McGrath who went over for a hat-trick of tries.

No doubt, they will keep a closer eye on him on their home patch. It promises to be a much closer encounter this time around but Clontarf, in their current mood, are going to take a lot of beating.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 23, 2013: Clontarf 35 Young Munster 10, Castle Avenue; Saturday, November 30, 2013 – Clontarf 46 Young Munster 28, Castle Avenue

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