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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

The focus for the final day’s action in Ulster Bank League Division 1B is on Crowley Park and College Park, as leaders Garryowen, Galwegians and Dublin University fight it out for automatic promotion and the promotion/relegation play-off spot.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, April 11

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYMENA (4th) v BUCCANEERS (6th), Eaton Park

Preview: Ballymena’s bid for promotion faded in recent weeks, so their only aim for this fixture is completing a season’s double over mid-table Buccaneers.

Buccs’ focus is already on next season with the appointment of Jude Lennon as the club’s director of rugby and they have begun the search for a new head coach.

With both of these sides enduring a winless March, a free-scoring encounter is expected. The Braidmen, including new Ireland Under-19 cap Jonathan Rosborough, are most likely to profit given their attacking prowess at Eaton Park.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 13, 2013: Buccaneers 9 Ballymena 6, Dubarry Park; Saturday, December 6, 2014: Buccaneers 8 Ballymena 23, Dubarry Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (3rd) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (5th), College Park

Preview: A third bonus point win on the trot is Dublin University’s target as they look to overcome Belfast Harlequins in their final league game and finish in the top two.

As well as triumphing at College Park, the promotion-hunting students must hope for a favourable result between the current top two sides, Garryowen and Galwegians, out west.

One thing is for certain – Harlequins will not roll over in Dublin. They beat ‘Wegians in a 70-point thriller last time out for their fourth successive victory, and Trinity’s defence will be tested throughout.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 22, 2014: Dublin University 31 Belfast Harlequins 10, Sydney Parade; Saturday, December 6, 2014: Belfast Harlequins 13 Dublin University 27, Deramore Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

GALWEGIANS (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (1st), Crowley Park

Preview: What a way to wrap up the Division 1B campaign as the two leading lights, Galwegians and Garryowen, meet in a winner-takes-all clash at Crowley Park.

This eagerly-awaited shoot-out for automatic promotion will see either Garryowen bounce straight back up to Division 1A or ‘Wegians return to the top flight for the first time since 2009.

If the Light Blues can gain the upper-hand up front – their five tries against Malone were all scored by forwards, including pack powerhouses Aaron McCloskey and Josh Hrstich Conan Doyle’s side stand a good chance of staying top of the pile.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, December 6, 2014: Garryowen 6 Galwegians 10, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

MALONE (9th) v SHANNON (7th), Gibson Park

Preview: Relegated Malone have little to play for as they host a Shannon side gunning for their third straight win and a possible sixth place finish in Division 1B.

Malone’s season has come off the rails since mid-January with a run of six straight defeats, including a 34-12 loss away to Garryowen last time out.

They face Limerick opposition again this week, hoping that young guns Josh Bingham and Conor Joyce can spur them on to a morale-boosting success in front of their home support.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 12, 2014: Shannon 7 Malone 27, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, December 6, 2014: Shannon 12 Malone 10, Coonagh

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Malone to win

UL BOHEMIANS (8th) v CORINTHIANS (10th), Thomond Park back pitch

Preview: The curtain comes down on Mossy Lawler’s stellar rugby career as he plays his final game for UL Bohemians, lining out at full-back against bottom side Corinthians.

The pressure is off Bohs after they whitewashed Buccaneers last time out to secure their Division 1B status for another year, and they will be eager to give the 35-year-old Lawler a winning send-off on home turf.

Corinthians will hope Connacht winger Niyi Adeolokun can do some damage out wide as they try to avenge their narrow 14-12 loss to UL from early December.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 22, 2014: Corinthians 12 UL Bohemians 8, Corinthian Park; Saturday, December 6, 2014: Corinthians 12 UL Bohemians 14, Corinthian Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UL Bohemians to win