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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Division 1A leaders Lansdowne will try to get back to winning ways when they visit Old Belvedere tonight, while the other Friday Night Lights tussle sees St. Mary’s College entertaining title holders Clontarf at Templeville Road.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, February 28

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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OLD BELVEDERE (7th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Anglesea Road, Friday, February 27, 7.30pm

Preview: A real test of character for Lansdowne after their eight-match winning streak was ended last week by UCD, a team that have now beaten them twice this season.

It has been an up-and-down campaign for Old Belvedere who are mindful that they are only seven points clear of the automatic relegation spot. Their eight losing bonus points show just how difficult they can be to beat.

When these sides met in early January, Lansdowne relied on a missed Josh Glynn conversion to squeeze their way to a 21-20 verdict. It could be a close one again under the Anglesea Road floodlights.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, January 31, 2014: Old Belvedere 19 Lansdowne 13, Anglesea Road; Friday, January 2, 2015: Lansdowne 21 Old Belvedere 20, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th) v CLONTARF (3rd), Templeville Road, Friday, February 27, 7.30pm

Preview: A tough test for defending champions Clontarf as they visit a St. Mary’s College side whose three wins on the trot have them climbing up the table.

Ever since losing 44-15 at Clontarf last month, Mary’s seem to have turned a corner. They are eighth overall now, still fighting relegation but also only eight points adrift of fourth-placed Cork Con.

With both sides having plenty to play for – ‘Tarf remain in the hunt for a home semi-final – this Friday Night Lights derby should draw a good sized crowd to Templeville Road.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 15, 2014: St. Mary’s College 6 Clontarf 25, Templeville Road; Friday, January 2, 2015: Clontarf 44 St. Mary’s College 15, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

BALLYNAHINCH (6th) v UCD (5th), Ballymacarn Park

Preview: There is a lot riding on this game for both sides, with UCD just two points outside the play-off places and hosts Ballynahinch a further two points back.

If the students can replicate last weekend’s superb performance in defeating leaders Lansdowne, then they stand a good chance of following up on last month’s 31-24 home win over ‘Hinch.

Some of the division’s most threatening back-three players will be in action with ‘Hinch’s Ross Adair and Adam Craig looking to get the better of UCD flyers Sam Coghlan-Murray and Adam Byrne.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 12, 2014: Ballynahinch 29 UCD 14, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, January 3, 2015: UCD 31 Ballynahinch 24, Belfield

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), Temple Hill

Preview: Since beating Terenure College 21-7 away early last month, Cork Constitution have dropped off with two defeats and a scrappy try-less win over Young Munster last time out.

This rematch is hugely important for both Con and ‘Nure’s play-off hopes. A win for the Dubliners would strengthen their grip on second spot and a coveted home semi-final.

Con have already lost to Lansdowne, Young Munster and St. Mary’s at Temple Hill this season. A fourth home loss would really open the door for the sides currently below them.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, January 3, 2015: Terenure College 7 Cork Constitution 21, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (9th) v DOLPHIN (10th), Tom Clifford Park

Preview: Dolphin may still be bottom of the table, but their form – three wins in four games – suggests they will not be there for too much longer. It all kicked off for them with a gritty 12-11 home win over Young Munster last month.

Munster centre/out-half Rory Scannell has been in a rich vein of form for Steve Ford’s relegation-battling side, scoring 52 points in his last four outings.

Although Tom Clifford Park is noted as a fortress for the Cookies, they are enduring a five-match losing streak at present. Their five losing bonus points is what separates them from Dolphin in the standings.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 1, 2014: Dolphin v Young Munster, Musgrave Park (Dolphin awarded match points following Young Munster’s failure to fulfil the fixture); Saturday, January 3, 2015: Dolphin 12 Young Munster 11, Irish Independent Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win