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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

There is still a lot to be sorted out at the top and bottom of Ulster Bank League 1A. Rugby fans have a great choice of five games in the capital on Saturday, including the Dublin 6W derby between Terenure and St. Mary’s.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 7

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (3rd) v DOLPHIN (10th), Castle Avenue

Preview: Last week’s 21-17 loss at St. Mary’s College means Clontarf still have some work to do before confirming their play-off spot in Division 1A.

The defending champions know a home semi-final is almost out of their reach, but three clubs are within a six-point reach of them in third place, so beating bottom side Dolphin is simply a must.

The Corkmen are fighting for their lives with three rounds to go. They are eight points worse off than second-from-bottom Old Belvedere, meaning defeat at Castle Avenue could relegate them.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 1, 2014: Clontarf 59 Dolphin 7, Castle Avenue; Saturday, September 20, 2014: Dolphin 16 Clontarf 22, Musgrave Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

LANSDOWNE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (5th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Preview: Play-off-bound Lansdowne are set to finish the season as table toppers after edging out Old Belvedere 17-13 in a titanic tussle last time out. Full-back Cian Aherne’s try-saving tackle late on was a key moment.

Their settled front row were particularly impressive at scrum time, and the set piece battle should be fascinating here with Lansdowne loosehead Ian Prendiville coming up against his Ireland Club international team-mate Ger Sweeney.

Sweeney’s Cork Con side were below par in losing 20-8 to Terenure. They need a quick turnaround in fortunes if they are to claw their way back into the top four in the final weeks.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 22, 2014: Lansdowne 18 Cork Constitution 24, Aviva Stadium main pitch; Saturday, September 20, 2014: Cork Constitution 13 Lansdowne 15, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

OLD BELVEDERE (9th) v BALLYNAHINCH (4th), Anglesea Road

Preview: Having maintained their unbeaten home record against play-off rivals UCD, fourth-placed Ballynahinch’s next challenge is to overcome relegation-threatened Old Belvedere.

Easier said than done as ‘Hinch have lost on all five of their previous visits to Dublin this season. Head coach Derek Suffern said they were ‘lucky enough to hang on’ against ‘Belvo, with Aaron Cairns and Ross Adair both touching down.

‘Belvo currently fill the relegation/promotion play-off spot and are fiercely determined to arrest an alarming run of seven defeats in eight games (six of them with a losing bonus point).

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 8, 2014: Ballynahinch 17 Old Belvedere 23, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, September 20, 2014: Ballynahinch 13 Old Belvedere 8, Ballymacarn Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

UCD (6th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (8th), Belfield

Preview: Young Munster make the trip to the capital buoyed by last week’s four-try dismissal of Dolphin. They will be targeting another win to move clear of that relegation/promotion play-off position.

However, UCD will not be overly welcoming as they are pushing hard for the play-offs themselves, lying just a point outside the top four. The students are also smarting from a narrow loss to Ballynahinch.

Recent Leinster debutant Ross Molony is set to start in the second row alongside captain Emmet MacMahon, as UCD look to avenge last September’s 24-19 loss at Greenfields.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 19, 2014: UCD 45 Young Munster 24, Belfield; Saturday, September 20, 2014: Young Munster 24 UCD 19, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), Lakelands Park, 3pm

Preview: Terenure and St. Mary’s both enjoyed wins in round 15 and a huge contest is expected in this Dublin 6W derby, with play-off and relegation matters very much at stake.

Tries from wingers Shane Donovan and Harry Moore proved decisive when Terenure beat Mary’s 20-14 back in September, and the in-form Moore is now chasing his tenth score of the campaign.

Mary’s are improving with each week, though, and the centre pairing of Mark Sexton and Marcus O’Driscoll is particularly threatening. They could have a big say as Peter Smyth’s men aim for their fifth straight win.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 20, 2014: St. Mary’s College 14 Terenure College 20, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win