Lansdowne and Terenure College, the top two finishers in the table from last season, meet tonight to get Division 1A’s third round underway. Saturday’s schedule includes a mouth-watering Munster derby between unbeaten Garryowen and Cork Constitution.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, September 25
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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LANSDOWNE (2nd) v TERENURE COLLEGE (6th), Aviva Stadium, Friday, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WD; Terenure College: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 23; Tries: Tom Farrell, Ross Deacon, Tom Daly, Scott Deasy, Matthew D’Arcy 1 each; Terenure College: Points: Stephen O’Neill 15; Tries: Robert Duke, Harry Moore, Oisin Heffernan, Eoin Joyce, James O’Donoghue 1 each
Preview: Champions Lansdowne showed their battling qualities when coming from 13 points down to earn a draw at Cork Constitution, with new scrum half Matthew D’Arcy among the try scorers.
This will be another early season tester for Mike Ruddock’s men as Terenure, second place finishers in the table last year, look to avenge two defeats from 2014/15.
Leaking 48 points in their two opening games is a concern for ‘Nure, but their four-try efforts against Galwegians show they remain one of the best attacking sides in the top flight.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 14, 2014: Lansdowne 15 Terenure College 13, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, March 28, 2015: Terenure College 20 Lansdowne 29, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
CLONTARF (1st) v BALLYNAHINCH (10th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WW; Ballynahinch: LL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 24; Tries: Mick McGrath, Rob McGrath 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: James McBriar 7; Tries: Jordan Grattan, James McBriar 1 each
Preview: All looks rosy at Castle Avenue at present. Clontarf sit top of the table with two wins and brothers Mick and Rob McGrath sharing out four tries so far.
Winless Ballynahinch are bottom following a demoralising 47-13 loss to UCD. They had seven new players involved last week, and it may take some time before they bed into the team.
Last season’s clashes were well won by ‘Tarf – 27-16 at home and 33-18 at Ballymacarn Park – and given recent form, a similar outcome looks likely here.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 22, 2014: Clontarf 27 Ballynahinch 16, Castle Avenue; Saturday, April 11, 2015: Ballynahinch 18 Clontarf 33, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
GARRYOWEN (3rd) v CORK CONSTITUTION (8th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: WD; Cork Constitution: LD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: James Frawley 20; Tries: Shane Buckley, Liam McMahon 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 18; Tries: Kerry Desmond, Brian Hayes, Luke Cahill 1 each
Preview: Unbeaten Garryowen come into this Munster derby on the back of a hard-earned draw away to Young Munster, while Cork Constitution led a 13-point lead slip in drawing 16-all with Lansdowne.
Cork Con should really have claimed the scalp of the defending champions, but the usually reliable Tomas Quinlan missed five of his eight penalty attempts. Back rowers Luke Cahill and James Ryan remain influential figures for the Leesiders.
Just two tries from Garryowen in their two openers. Winger James Frawley has weighed in with 20 points off the kicking tee, but they will have to carry more of a try-scoring threat if they are to down Constitution.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 2, 2013: Cork Constitution 18 Garryowen 15, Temple Hill; Saturday, March 15, 2014: Garryowen 12 Cork Constitution 8, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
OLD BELVEDERE (5th) v GALWEGIANS (7th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WL; Galwegians: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Shane McDonald 21; Tries: Rory O’Loughlin 2; Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 13; Tries: Cormac Brennan, Ed O’Keeffe, Paddy Finn 1 each
Preview: A promising start from Old Belvedere with five points in the bag from the first two weeks. Their 27-8 defeat of Terenure suggests they will be formidable opposition at Anglesea Road this season.
Rory O’Loughlin’s late try earned them a losing bonus point at Clontarf, and captain Jonathan Slattery, Michael Oyuga and Leinster’s Steve Crosbie stood out with big individual performances.
Well-drilled Galwegians make their second successive trip to the capital. They pushed Terenure all the way last week and ‘Belvo will certainly have to fight for every point here.
Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since February 2010
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win
UCD (4th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (9th), Belfield Bowl
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: LW; Young Munster: LD
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 16; Tries: Peadar Timmins, Barry Daly 2 each; Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 17; Tries: Alan Kennedy 1
Preview: UCD are a dangerous side when high on confidence, and last week’s 47-13 dismissal of Ballynahinch up north shows the capabilities of Noel McNamara’s youngsters. Peadar Timmins is really shining in the number 8 role.
The students will be keen to put one over on Munsters after last season’s 24-19 and 20-17 losses. The sides’ March meeting was decided by a second half penalty try.
The Cookies’ pack remains a powerful unit led by captain Ger Slattery. They are still chasing their first league win under Australian coach Anthony Mathison, and winning at Belfield would give them a timely boost.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 20, 2014: Young Munster 24 UCD 19, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, March 7, 2015: UCD 17 Young Munster 20, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win