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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Clontarf are back in the familiar surroundings of Castle Avenue as they attempt to beat Ballynahinch and pick up their first win in four Division 1A games. Elsewhere, leaders Terenure College will be looking to bounce back at home to Old Belvedere.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 22

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (4th) v BALLYNAHINCH (6th), Castle Avenue, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWLWLLL; Ballynahinch: LWLWWLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 54; Tries: David Joyce, Matt D’Arcy 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Richard Reaney 31; Tries: Ross Adair 4

Preview: This has ‘must win’ written all over it for Clontarf. It has not been a good November for the defending champions with three tight losses to some of their main rivals.

The leaking of a late try foiled them at Cork Constitution last week, and Andy Wood’s men need to quickly eat into the ten-point gap between themselves and leaders Terenure College.

Following a disappointing draw with Dolphin, sixth-placed Ballynahinch are just a point behind ‘Tarf. Their assistant coach Charlie McAleese said: “This is a game we can target. It will be a difficult assignment but surely we can’t play so poorly (again).”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 7, 2013: Ballynahinch 12 Clontarf 16, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, April 19, 2014: Clontarf 27 Ballynahinch 13, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (5th), Lakelands Park, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Terenure College: WWWWWWL; Old Belvedere: WLLLDWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 40; Tries: Harry Moore, Kyle McCoy 5 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 53; Tries: Peter Robb, Daniel Riordan 2 each

Preview: Win number 30 proved just beyond table toppers Terenure as their long-standing league winning streak, which stretched back to February 2013, was ended by Lansdowne last week.

They did score the only try of that game, but the combined boots of Scott Deasy and Conor McKeon edged it for Lansdowne. ‘Nure are a formidable outfit at home, and Lakelands should inspire the required result from James Blaney’s side.

However, they will be wary of an Old Belvedere team that is unbeaten this month with two wins and a draw. Their reliable place-kicker Josh Glynn has also scored 53 points so far.

Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since 2008

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

DOLPHIN (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Irish Independent Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLLLDDD; St. Mary’s College: LLWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 13; Tries: Ryan Murphy 2; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 38; Tries: Keelan McKenna, Stuart O’Flanagan, Conor Toolan, Richie Sweeney, Dave Fanagan, Ray Crotty, Rob Sweeney, Nick Timoney, Cathal Marsh 1 each

Preview: What odds on a fourth draw on the trot for Dolphin? In a remarkable series of results, the Corkmen have now shared the spoils with Old Belvedere, Cork Con and Ballynahinch.

Their head coach Steve Ford has seen definite improvements in his young players, noting: “The biggest progression in this group from the last block of games is that we’re fixing problems quicker.”

A former players reunion lunch should boost the attendance as Dolphin scrap for that elusive first win. St. Mary’s cannot be discounted, though, especially if Cathal Marsh continues the dead-eye form that saw him kick Young Munster into submission.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, October 6, 2013: Dolphin 15 St. Mary’s College 10, Musgrave Park; Saturday, March 22, 2014: St. Mary’s College 20 Dolphin 7, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win

LANSDOWNE (2nd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Sunday, November 23, 2.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WWWLLWW; Young Munster: LWLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 54; Tries: Ian Fitzpatrick, Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell 2 each; Young Munster: Points: Ben Martin 30; Tries: Barry Gibbons 2

Preview: A rare Sunday afternoon outing for these sides, with Lansdowne seeking to end the month with their third successive league victory.

Mike Ruddock’s men deserve their second place ranking given they are currently the second highest scorers in the top flight and also boast the second best defensive record. Out in front on both counts are Terenure, the team they topped last week.

Young Munster’s confidence will have been knocked by their round 7 loss to struggling St. Mary’s. However, they have a pack to test anyone in the division and centres Shane O’Leary and Gearoid Lyons are growing in influence every week.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 26, 2013: Lansdowne 29 Young Munster 22, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, March 1, 2014: Young Munster 24 Lansdowne 21, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

UCD (8th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (7th), Belfield, Sunday, November 23, 2.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WLWLWLL; Cork Constitution: LLWWLDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Ross Byrne 51; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 44; Tries: Rob Jermyn, James Murphy 2 each

Preview: UCD should not be too disheartened by their league position of eighth, as they are only four points behind third-placed Young Munster, but they really need a pick-me-up here.

Smarting from back-to-back defeats to Terenure and Old Belvedere, the last three rounds have seen the students heavily reliant on Ross Byrne and Sam Coghlan Murray for scores – the pair accounted for 39 of UCD’s 49 points during that period.

Cork Con’s most recent trip to the capital saw them beat St. Mary’s 26-15. Their attack needs to go up a gear or two, however, as only Dolphin have scored less points than them to date.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 30, 2013: UCD 23 Cork Constitution 17, Belfield; Saturday, January 25, 2014: Cork Constitution 14 UCD 6, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win