The derby matches are coming thick and fast in the top flight. Three all-Dublin duels are scheduled for tonight along with the crunch clash of Leeside rivals Dolphin and Cork Constitution at Musgrave Park.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Friday, November 7
Kick-off 7.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (2nd) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWLWL; Old Belvedere: WLLLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 48; Tries: David Joyce 2; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 29; Tries: Peter Robb, Daniel Riordan 2 each
Preview: An important game for both sides after Clontarf lost their top of table clash to Terenure and Old Belvedere were held to a draw by Dolphin.
‘Tarf are now seven points behind the runaway leaders, but a dose of home comfort should help tonight – they have won ten of their last 11 league matches at Castle Avenue.
Second-from-bottom ‘Belvo have not won since the opening day of the season, so they will travel across the Liffey with plenty of motivation as the clubs compete for the Jack ‘Binsey’ Whelan Cup.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 28, 2013: Old Belvedere 24 Clontarf 21, Anglesea Road; Friday, March 28, 2014: Clontarf 20 Old Belvedere 13, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
DOLPHIN (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (7th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLLLD; Cork Constitution: LLWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 13; Tries: Eamonn Mills, Brian Quill, James Rochford, Ryan Murphy, Chris Rowe, Niall Scannell 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 32; Tries: Rob Jermyn 2
Preview: Dolphin ended their four-match losing streak with a dramatic 22-all draw at Old Belvedere, their three tries including one from fit-again hooker Niall Scannell.
Cork Constitution lost 9-6 to Young Munster last weekend and need to rediscover the form that saw them beat Ballynahinch and St. Mary’s recently.
Dolphin won last November’s Cork derby at Musgrave Park thanks to a try from Darren Sweetnam, who has since made the switch to Temple Hill. With Dolphin’s influential flanker John Quill away on international duty with the USA, the visitors should shade it this time.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 8, 2013: Dolphin 14 Cork Constitution 9, Musgrave Park; Friday, February 14, 2014: Cork Constitution 6 Dolphin 9, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th) v LANSDOWNE (3rd), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LLWLL; Lansdowne: WWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 28; Tries: Keelan McKenna, Stuart O’Flanagan, Conor Toolan, Richie Sweeney, Dave Fanagan, Ray Crotty, Rob Sweeney 1 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 39; Tries: Ian Fitzpatrick 2
Preview: The six-day turnaround gives both of these sides a chance to quickly get back to winning ways. St. Mary’s have been licking their wounds since a heavy 33-13 beating at Ballynahinch.
Mary’s forwards coach Jonathan Garth said: “Basic errors have been killing us. It’s been a bad start for us but it’s a long season and we are aiming to turn things around against Lansdowne.”
Having suffered a rare home defeat to UCD, third-placed Lansdowne really need to improve their scoring rate – they have averaged just 10 points in their last three outings.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 8, 2013: St. Mary’s College 28 Lansdowne 33, Templeville Road; Saturday, April 5, 2014: Lansdowne 18 St. Mary’s College 38, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
UCD (5th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (1st), Belfield
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WLWLW; Terenure College: WWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Ross Byrne 41; Tries: Harry McNulty, Adam Byrne 2 each; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 32; Tries: Harry Moore, Kyle McCoy 5 each
Preview: Terenure College have beaten all-comers so far, their last victory seeing them dispatch defending champions Clontarf to extend their league winning streak to 28 matches.
Their pack has provided the platform for the likes of number 8 Kyle McCoy and backs Harry Moore, Shane Donovan and Stephen O’Neill to score some decisive tries in recent weeks.
UCD will be tough opponents, though, with teenage out-half Ross Byrne in fine form. The students, who toppled Lansdowne last week, have won their last six Division 1A games at Belfield.
* All gate receipts from the game at Belfield will go to the ‘Get Luke to St. Louis’ campaign. Little Luke Herangi will also be UCD’s mascot tonight. Please support this very worthy cause.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 3, 2010: Terenure College 36 UCD 19, Lakelands Park; Saturday, January 29, 2011: UCD 27 Terenure College 13, Belfield
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v BALLYNAHINCH (4th), Tom Clifford Park, Saturday, November 8, 2.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LWLWW; Ballynahinch: LWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Ben Martin 30; Tries: Barry Gibbons 2; Ballynahinch: Points: Richard Reaney 26; Tries: Ross Adair 4
Preview: Young Munster and Ballynahinch are both on the rise following back-to-back wins. The Cookies have recovered in impressive fashion from September’s 42-0 hammering by Terenure.
The victories for John Staunton’s charges over Old Belvedere and Cork Con included a 27-point contribution from full-back Ben Martin and some strong scrummaging from the pack.
Visitors ‘Hinch stormed to a late bonus point against St. Mary’s, with head coach Derek Suffern highlighting their improvements: “We got a wee bit tighter in the contact, got our carries going a wee bit lower and I think it paid dividends in the end.”
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 5, 2013: Young Munster 29 Ballynahinch 16, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, March 22, 2014: Ballynahinch 36 Young Munster 3, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win