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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

The Ulster Bank League resumes tonight with two cracking Dublin derbies to ring in the New Year, while Saturday’s schedule is headed up by the meeting of the second and third placed teams – Terenure College and Cork Constitution.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 3

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (4th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Castle Avenue, Friday, January 2, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWLWLLLWLW; St. Mary’s College: LLWLLLWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 82; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 5; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 65; Tries: Nick Timoney 3

Preview: Clontarf bid farewell to a memorable 2014 with a much-needed win away to Old Belvedere. They will be hoping for more of same here against second-from-bottom St. Mary’s.

Mick McGrath returned to the ‘Tarf back-three last time out and it will be interesting to see if the Leinster winger will be available to the club during this month’s important run of games.

Mary’s should be higher up than ninth spot, especially given the level of performance they produced against new leaders Lansdowne. Openside flanker Conor Oliver is one to watch, and it would be no surprise to see them run ‘Tarf close in another Friday night thriller.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 1, 2013: Clontarf 24 St. Mary’s College 13, Castle Avenue; Saturday, March 15, 2014: St. Mary’s College 6 Clontarf 25, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

LANSDOWNE (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Friday, January 2, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WWWLLWWWWW; Old Belvedere: WLLLDWWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 73; Tries: Tom Farrell, Joe McSwiney 3 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 70; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5

Preview: Lansdowne would have enjoyed their Christmas break, sitting three points clear at the summit on the back of a five-match winning streak.

Full-back/winger Cian Kelleher, one of their promising young backs, picked up the league’s Rising Star of the Month award for November and is always a threat with ball in hand.

Old Belvedere lost three games before Christmas, sliding down to eighth place, but they did the double over Lansdowne last season and full-back Daniel Riordan is always a potential match winner. He touched down in both 2013/14 fixtures against Lansdowne.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 22, 2013: Lansdowne 13 Old Belvedere 22, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, January 31, 2014: Old Belvedere 19 Lansdowne 13, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Lakelands Park, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Terenure College: WWWWWWLWLL; Cork Constitution: LLWWLDWDWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 54; Tries: Kyle McCoy, Harry Moore 6 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 49; Tries: Rob Jermyn 3

Preview: Terenure will have been targeting this game ever since their surprise home defeat to UCD on December 20, which knocked them off the top of the table.

It is second plays third at Lakelands, with ‘Nure desperately keen to get back on track. They certainly have the firepower to do so – including the league’s current top two try scorers, Kyle McCoy and Harry Moore (6 each).

After a poor start to the campaign, Cork Constitution are now unbeaten in five matches and will be itching for a run-out due to the postponement of the Munster Senior Cup final over the festive period. Still, it is hard to see past a home win.

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

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

DOLPHIN (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (7th), Irish Independent Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLLLDDDLLL; Young Munster: LWLWWWLLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 24; Tries: Ryan Murphy 3; Young Munster: Points: Ben Martin 38; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 3

Preview: A win would be vital for either side’s fortunes, particularly Dolphin who have been languishing at the bottom of the table since September.

Head coach Steve Ford will have been emphasising that the New Year offers the Corkmen a clean slate as they continue to chase their first league victory.

Munsters themselves will want to banish memories of a disappointing 30-6 defeat at Ballynahinch. They already beat Cork Con away in November and will be quietly confident of claiming a second Leeside success.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 23, 2013: Young Munster 18 Dolphin 7, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, February 1, 2014: Dolphin v Young Munster, Musgrave Park (Dolphin awarded match points following Young Munster’s failure to fulfil the fixture)

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win

UCD (5th) v BALLYNAHINCH (6th), Belfield

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: WLWLWLLDWW; Ballynahinch: LWLWWLDLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Ross Byrne 73; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 5; Ballynahinch: Points: Richard Reaney 45; Tries: Ross Adair 5

Preview: These two teams would probably have wanted to play through Christmas given their recent form – notably, UCD and Ballynahinch have both beaten the top two already this season.

‘Hinch defeated the students home and away last season, but Derek Suffern’s charges have not won on their travels yet this term with four losses in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

Both sides lie in mid-table and home advantage could be enough to edge UCD back into the top four. Whatever the result, Bobby Byrne’s side certainly offer a high entertainment value, averaging 27 points and more than three tries per game recently.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 4, 2014: UCD 26 Ballynahinch 32, Belfield; Saturday, April 12, 2014: Ballynahinch 29 UCD 14, Ballymacarn Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win