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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

The latest round of Division 1B action is launched by two fascinating ‘Friday Night Lights’ derbies tonight – UL Bohemians and Garryowen meet at Thomond Park while Corinthians host former leaders Galwegians out west.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Friday, November 7

Kick-off 7.30pm unless stated –

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CORINTHIANS (7th) v GALWEGIANS (2nd), Corinthian Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Corinthians: LWLLW; Galwegians: WWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Corinthians: Points: Miah Nikora 12; Tries: James Buckley, Jamie Dever, Eoghan Masterson 2 each; Galwegians: Points: Jerome Harimate, Matt Dever 15 each; Tries: Jerome Harimate, Matt Dever 3 each

Preview: Can Corinthians make it two Connacht derby wins in a row? They showed much more belief and conviction to triumph 14-10 at Buccaneers last Friday, with Joey Merrigan and try scorer Eoghan Masterson starring up front.

Galwegians’ winning start to the season was ended by a last-gasp defeat to Ballymena, so Matt Brown’s men will be eager to bounce back with a fifth victory.

The Blues should do so, especially if they collect their third successive try-scoring bonus point – Brian McClearn, Colin Conroy and Doron McHugh have shared out six tries in Galwegians’ last two games.

Recent League Meeting – Friday, November 9, 2012: Galwegians 31 Corinthians 13, Crowley Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win

UL BOHEMIANS (6th) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Thomond Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: WWLLL; Garryowen: WLWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Shane Airey 41; Tries: Ed Kelly, Ian Condell 2 each; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 43; Tries: James Frawley, Neil Cronin 2 each

Preview: UL Bohemians have slid down to sixth place following three defeats on the trot, so tonight’s local derby at Thomond Park offers them an ideal chance to recapture their early season form.

They have been relying on out-half Shane Airey for scores – he has notched 41 of their 81 points so far – and will need to show much more firepower to beat Garryowen.

The Light Blues, who were turned over by Trinity last weekend, are now eight points behind leaders Ballymena and Conan Doyle will be looking for a big response from his players.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 2, 2012: UL Bohemians 16 Garryowen 12, Thomond Park; Friday, February 22, 2013: Garryowen 38 UL Bohemians 3, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v SHANNON (10th), College Park, Saturday, November 8, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dublin University: LLLWW; Shannon: LLLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 29; Tries: Paddy Lavelle, Brian du Toit, Tim Maupin 2 each; Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 25; Tries: John Shine 3

Preview: Dublin University will chase their second Limerick scalp when hosting Shannon, seven days on from a famous 14-8 triumph over Garryowen at Dooradoyle.

Trinity were 19-17 winners over Shannon on the final day of last season and will relish taking on Ian Sherwin’s side in their second game at the newly reopened College Park.

A home defeat to Belfast Harlequins has Shannon bottom of the table, but they are only two points behind Trinity and their recent 30-7 success at Corinthians showed what Tadhg Bennett and company are capable of.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 14, 2013: Shannon 20 Dublin University 5, Coonagh; Saturday, April 19, 2014: Dublin University 19 Shannon 17, Merrion Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

BALLYMENA (1st) v MALONE (4th), Eaton Park, Saturday, November 8, 2.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: WWWWW; Malone: WLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Tim Small 31; Tries: David Shanahan, Tim Small 3 each; Malone: Points: Josh Pentland 45; Tries: Rory Campbell 4

Preview: Ballymena are back on home soil after taking top spot from Galwegians. It is first plays fourth at Eaton Park and the first of the clubs’ two meetings this month – they will also clash in the last-four of the Ulster Senior Cup.

Andy Graham’s in-form Braidmen already have a 12-point buffer on Malone in the table, with Tim Small, who had a stint in Australia with Western District, top-scoring so far with 31 points.

Malone should not be discounted, though, particularly after seeing off UL Bohemians 23-10 and with players of the quality of scrum half John Creighton and Ulster-capped back rower Conor Joyce involved.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 6, 2012: Ballymena 3 Malone 60, Eaton Park; Friday, February 1, 2013: Malone 26 Ballymena 5, Gibson Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win

BELFAST HARLEQUINS (9th) v BUCCANEERS (5th), Deramore Park, Saturday, November 8, 2.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: LLWLW; Buccaneers: LWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Eamon Lane 46; Tries: Sean Reidy 3; Buccaneers: Points: Alan Gaughan 45; Tries: Rory O’Connor 2

Preview: Having been stunned by Corinthians on Halloween night, mid-table Buccaneers are in serious need of a win away to Belfast Harlequins.

The Pirates are craving some consistency after two victories in five outings, with no try-scoring bonus points and the division’s worst defensive record at present (111 points against).

This round 5 clash could well turn out to a place-kicking battle between Alan Gaughan and Eamon Lane. The latter kicked very well as ‘Quins beat Shannon to lift themselves off bottom spot and fifth-placed Buccs are in their sights, lying just a point ahead of them.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 28, 2013: Belfast Harlequins 21 Buccaneers 29, Deramore Park; Saturday, January 25, 2014: Buccaneers 18 Belfast Harlequins 19, Dubarry Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win