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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Some testing away trips for the unbeaten trio of Clontarf, Lansdowne and Garryowen as the action hots up in Ulster Bank League Division 1A this weekend.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (10th) v OLD BELVEDERE (5th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LLL; Old Belvedere: WLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Richard Reaney 10; Tries: Jordan Grattan, James McBriar, David Busby, Craig Trenier 1 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Shane McDonald 27; Tries: Rory O’Loughlin 2

Preview: A fourth straight defeat would be hugely deflating for bottom side Ballynahinch. They lost nine times last season, but won this equivalent fixture 13-8 with Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey playing a central role.

‘Hinch really need to make Ballymacarn Park a fortress again, and this is the time to do it with Old Belvedere and Young Munster visiting in back-to-back fixtures.

Two home wins and a losing bonus point secured on their travels is an encouraging start for Belvedere. Leinster’s Steve Crosbie had a match-winning contribution against Galwegians, while goal-kicking winger Shane McDonald has been responsible for 27 of their 65 points so far.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 20, 2014: Ballynahinch 13 Old Belvedere 8, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, March 7, 2015: Old Belvedere 40 Ballynahinch 14, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Preview: Old Belvedere to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (7th) v UCD (4th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: LDL; UCD: LWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 32; Tries: Kerry Desmond, Brian Hayes, Luke Cahill, James Murphy 1 each; UCD: Points: Billy Dardis 23; Tries: Billy Dardis 3

Preview: Cork Constitution were the only team to move up in the table last week, climbing into seventh spot despite suffering a last-gasp 23-19 defeat to Munster rivals Garryowen.

Con’s back row of captain James Ryan, Luke Cahill and James Murphy has impressed in recent weeks, with the latter two touching down against Lansdowne and Garryowen respectively.

They will need more cutting edge from their backs, though, as UCD have already hit their scoring groove. 103 points and 16 tries scored in the last two rounds, the students are very difficult to contain if the likes of Billy Dardis, their hat-trick hero against Young Munster, and Ireland Sevens star Adam Byrne are given space.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, November 23, 2014: UCD 25 Cork Constitution 25, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, April 11, 2015: Cork Constitution 3 UCD 10, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Preview: UCD to win

GALWEGIANS (8th) v LANSDOWNE (2nd), Crowley Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: WLL; Lansdowne: WDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan, Ed O’Keeffe 15 each; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 3; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 32; Tries: Brian Moylett 2

Preview: An acid test for Galwegians as they welcome the reigning champions out west. They endured a frustrating final quarter slide last week at Old Belvedere where locks Aly Muldowney and Marty Cummins both saw yellow.

Connacht Academy recruit Ed O’Keeffe has been a bright spark for ‘Wegians with three tries from the wing, but they will need a big effort from their forwards if they are to scalp Mike Ruddock’s men.

The strong-scrummaging Lansdowne pack have used their superior conditioning to kick on in the second halves of their recent games. With that and Scott Deasy’s marshalling of the backs in mind, it is hard to look past an away victory.

Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since February 2011

IrishRugby.ie Preview: Lansdowne to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (6th) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Lakelands Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Terenure College: LWL; Garryowen: WDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Stephen O’Neill 15; Tries: Robert Duke, Harry Moore, Oisin Heffernan, Eoin Joyce, James O’Donoghue, James O’Neill, Niall Lalor 1 each; Garryowen: Points: James Frawley 23; Tries: Steve McMahon 2

Preview: Garryowen certainly go for the full 80 minutes. A late Alex Wootton try saw them edge out Cork Con last week, and prior to that final quarter scores from Shane Buckley and Liam McMahon saw them beat Ballynahinch and draw with Young Munster respectively.

They visit a Terenure side licking their wounds following a 24-10 reversal at Lansdowne. ‘Nure matched the title holders’ two-try haul, but the concession of four penalty goals really stung them.

There will be plenty of key individual tussles at Lakelands, in the back row in particular and two of the division’s best scrum halves will duel it out – ‘Nure’s Kevin O’Neill and Garryowen’s Neil Cronin, younger brother of Leinster and Ireland hooker Sean.

Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since January 2009

IrishRugby.ie Preview: Terenure College to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (9th) v CLONTARF (1st), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LDL; Clontarf: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 24; Tries: Alan Kennedy 2; Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 37; Tries: Mick McGrath 5

Preview: Clontarf will be determined to finish off this first block of four matches with another triumph. Their new out-half Joey Carbery (37 points) and ace poacher Mick McGrath (5 tries) are the leading scorers in the top flight so far.

With home advantage, Young Munster will definitely put ‘Tarf’s unbeaten start to the test. Former South Africa Under-20 scrum half Abrie Griesel is set to make his home league debut for the Cookies.

Anthony Mathison’s side are still chasing their maiden win of the campaign, and the Australian is undoubtedly demanding a big response to last week’s nine-try hammering by UCD.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 13, 2014: Clontarf 37 Young Munster 19, Castle Avenue; Saturday, December 6, 2014: Young Munster 18 Clontarf 17, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win