We have reached the halfway stage of the Ulster Bank League’s regular season, and Saturday’s matches are a reversal of the round 1 fixtures with leaders Terenure travelling to Ballynahinch and second-placed Lansdowne paying bottom side Dolphin a visit.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 6
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BALLYNAHINCH (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (1st), Ballymacarn Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LWLWWLDL; Terenure College: WWWWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Richard Reaney 31; Tries: Ross Adair 4; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 40; Tries: Kyle McCoy 6
Preview: A good benchmark game for both teams as leaders Terenure College look to round off the first half of the 18-match regular season with their eighth win.
When they met in Dublin in the opening round, two Ross Adair tries had Ballynahinch leading 20-14 before ‘Nure finished strongly to record a 32-20 victory – their top try-scoring number 8 Kyle McCoy was among the scorers that day.
British & Irish Cup commitments will rob ‘Hinch of some key men, and Terenure – given their resources and form – should take the points in what will be a tough test, nonetheless.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 13, 2014: Terenure College 32 Ballynahinch 20, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: LLWWLDWD; Old Belvedere: WLLLDWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 44; Tries: Rob Jermyn 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 58; Tries: Daniel Riordan 3
Preview: Old Belvedere achieved a notable double over Cork Constitution last season, winning by two points at Temple Hill, and will travel south with a good deal of confidence.
November was a rewarding month for ‘Belvo, who picked up a losing bonus point against Terenure last time out to add to wins over champions Clontarf and UCD.
Recent losses to Lansdowne and Young Munster show that Temple Hill is not the fortress it once was, but Constitution boast an energetic pack – Graeme Lawler and Luke Cahill are stand-out performers – and the prospect of climbing above ‘Belvo into fourth place is a serious carrot for them.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 1, 2014: Cork Constitution 24 Old Belvedere 26, Temple Hill; Saturday, September 13, 2014: Old Belvedere 24 Cork Constitution 8, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DOLPHIN (10th) v LANSDOWNE (2nd), Irish Independent Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLLLDDDL; Lansdowne: WWWLLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 18; Tries: Ryan Murphy 3; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 62; Tries: Tom Farrell, Joe McSwiney 3 each
Preview: Winless Dolphin are now seven points adrift at the bottom of the Division 1A table and must be praying for an early Christmas present as they prepare to face second-placed Lansdowne.
The Corkmen matched St. Mary’s two-try haul last time out, but indiscipline cost Steve Ford’s side as Gavin Dunne landed five penalties to give the Dubliners a 27-18 win.
Lansdowne bagged their third try-scoring bonus point of the season against Young Munster. Their first came on the opening day against Dolphin (37-6), but a closer margin is expected this time given the visitors’ B&I Cup call-ups.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 19, 2014: Dolphin 16 Lansdowne 18, Musgrave Park; Saturday, September 13, 2014: Lansdowne 37 Dolphin 6, Aviva Stadium main pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th) v UCD (8th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LLWLLLWW; UCD: WLWLWLLD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 55; Tries: Richie Sweeney, Nick Timoney 2 each; UCD: Points: Ross Byrne 51; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 4
Preview: St. Mary’s College have been reliant on their place-kickers to do much of the damage in recent weeks – Cathal Marsh kicked 21 points in the win over Young Munster and Gavin Dunne’s 17-point haul helped them see off Dolphin.
The progression of their joint-top try scorer Nick Timoney (2 tries) is such that he has been summoned by Leinster ‘A’, and UCD will also have to cope with some notable absentees this week – particularly in the back row.
St. Mary’s will feel they owe the students one after losing a tight Friday Night Lights opener (23-20) back in September. It certainly would be a big blow if UCD were to go four games without a win and fall further down the table.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, January 31, 2014: St. Mary’s College 26 UCD 15, Templeville Road; Friday, September 12, 2014: UCD 23 St. Mary’s College 20, Belfield
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v CLONTARF (3rd), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LWLWWWLL; Clontarf: WWLWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Ben Martin 30; Tries: Barry Gibbons, Derry O’Connor 2 each; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 66; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 3
Preview: A big fixture for both sides as Clontarf look to continue their recovery from a difficult November, while Young Munster will be hoping home advantage can help them end a two-match losing streak.
‘Tarf, who are back up to third having beaten Ballynahinch, will need big performances from top scorers David Joyce (66 points) and Matt D’Arcy (3 tries). The scrum battle in Limerick will also be fascinating as these two packs are renowned for their front row strength.
With Yasin Browne, Ger Slattery and Sean Rennison impressing up front, Munsters are chasing their fourth straight victory on home turf in Greenfields. Saturday’s winners will definitely breathe a little easier at this halfway point in the regular season.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 25, 2014: Young Munster 9 Clontarf 26, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, September 13, 2014: Clontarf 37 Young Munster 19, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win