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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

The meeting of defending champions Clontarf and current leaders Lansdowne will command much of the focus in Division 1A this weekend, while fellow play-off chasers Terenure and Cork Constitution face tough trips to Limerick and Down respectively.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 10

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (6th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LWLWWLDLWWL; Cork Constitution: LLWWLDWDWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 47; Tries: Ross Adair 5; Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 49; Tries: Rob Jermyn 3

Preview: Cork Constitution certainly have the wind in their sails at present. Last Saturday they made it six games unbeaten with an eye-catching win away to former league leaders Terenure.

Half-backs Gerry Hurley and Tomas Quinlan scored the decisive tries, and while Con head coach Tom Tierney praised the pair he also said: “Defence wins games in Dublin and that’s exactly what did it for us.”

They will need plenty of defensive grit to unsettle a Ballynahinch side who can be formidable opposition at home. Derek Suffern’s men picked up a losing bonus point in Cork in September, and should gain four at their Co. Down fortress.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 29, 2014: Cork Contitution 8 Ballynahinch 35, Temple Hill; Saturday, September 27, 2014: Cork Constitution 23 Ballynahinch 16, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

CLONTARF (3rd) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWLWLLLWLWW; Lansdowne: WWWLLWWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 101; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 5; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 84; Tries: Tom Farrell, Joe McSwiney, Cian Kelleher 3 each

Preview: No doubt this is the match of the weekend in the Ulster Bank League. Lansdowne may have opened up a seven-point lead at the top, but they were fortunate to squeeze past Old Belvedere last time out.

Luck was on their side too when they beat Clontarf 9-6 back in September, with ‘Tarf’s usually reliable out-half David Joyce missing two crucial penalties. But the north Dubliners seem in much better form now, scoring 68 points in their last two outings.

Joyce has since passed the 100-point mark for the season and his kicking duel with Lansdowne’s Scott Deasy, a key figure against ‘Belvo, is likely to have a big bearing on the result.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, April 11, 2014: Lansdowne 34 Clontarf 27, Aviva Stadium main pitch; Saturday, September 27, 2014: Lansdowne 9 Clontarf 6, Aviva Stadium main pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

DOLPHIN (10th) v UCD (5th), Irish Independent Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLLLDDDLLLW; UCD: WLWLWLLDWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 36; Tries: Ryan Murphy 3; UCD: Points: Ross Byrne 86; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 5

Preview: There was joy at last for bottom side Dolphin when they secured their maiden win of the league campaign last week, edging out Young Munster 12-11.

They are at home for the second week running, but it is difficult to see them lowing the colours of UCD who have beaten them in their last three encounters – scoring 109 points in the process.

The Corkmen will most definitely be all out for revenge against the students, but Bobby Byrne’s youngsters have the quality to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, March 16, 2014: Dolphin 32 UCD 55, Musgrave Park; Saturday, September 27, 2014: UCD 32 Dolphin 12, Belfield

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Templeville Road

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LLWLLLWWLLL; Old Belvedere: WLLLDWWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 70; Tries: Nick Timoney 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 75; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5

Preview: Both of these teams could do with a New Year fillip. St. Mary’s have lost their last three matches, while Old Belvedere are on a four-game losing streak at present.

‘Belvo’s luck simply has to change. They have a bad habit of losing tight games, amassing seven losing bonus points so far. The woodwork denied them a late victory away to Lansdowne last week.

St. Mary’s fell away in closing quarter against Clontarf, going down 44-15 in the end. They really need a result here as they face four play-off chasing sides in the next four rounds.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 25, 2014: Old Belvedere 22 St. Mary’s College 22, Anglesea Road; Saturday, September 27, 2014: Old Belvedere 10 St. Mary’s College 14, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LWLWWWLLWLL; Terenure College: WWWWWWLWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Ben Martin 38; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 3; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 56; Tries: Kyle McCoy, Harry Moore 6 each

Preview: Terenure have fond memories of facing Young Munster who were hammered 42-0 at Lakelands Park in September. However, ‘Nure’s current form suggests the margin will be much closer this time around.

The Dubliners need to return to the peak of their powers if they are to halt a poor run of results, including last week’s 21-7 home loss to Cork Constitution.

They certainly have the players to do that. The same is true of Young Munster who, on paper, have the squad depth to challenge for the play-offs. Four defeats in five games says otherwise, though.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 27, 2014: Terenure College 42 Young Munster 0, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win