The top four teams in Ulster Bank League Division 1B are all on the road this weekend, with St. Mary’s Dublin derby clash with Blackrock drawing most of the attention. All gate receipts from the game at Stradbrook will go to the Berkeley tragedy fund.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, October 3
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BELFAST HARLEQUINS (9th) v BUCCANEERS (4th), Deramore Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: LLL; Buccaneers: WLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Mark Best 29; Tries: David McMaster, Mark Best 2 each; Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon 39; Tries: Rory O’Connor 3
Preview: The pressure is on Belfast Harlequins to deliver a winning performance at home following three defeats on the trot – two by way of a bonus point.
Curtailing the influence of in-form Buccaneers backs Conor McKeon (39 points) and Rory O’Connor (3 tries) would help. Defence has been an issue for Harlequins, along with an over-reliance on goal-kicking centre Mark Best (29 points) for scores.
Notably, last season’s two meetings were won by the away side on the day with Buccs triumphing 20-7 at Deramore Park and ‘Quins returning the favour with a 43-6 success in Athlone.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 8, 2014: Belfast Harlequins 7 Buccaneers 20, Deramore Park; Saturday, February 28, 2015: Buccaneers 6 Belfast Harlequins 43, Dubarry Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win
BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd), Stradbrook
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: WWL; St. Mary’s College: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Jack O’Carroll 14; Tries: Cillian Duff, David Scott-Lennon 2 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 26; Tries: Darragh Fanning 4
Preview: Blackrock College are hoping for a big crowd at Stradbrook for this Dublin derby, with all gate receipts going to the Berkeley tragedy fund.
Third-placed St. Mary’s will take some stopping if they keep up their current free-scoring form. 91 points scored and only 22 conceded in their first two outings suggests Peter Smyth’s men mean business.
Blackrock have been competitive both home and away, picking up two bonus points at Buccaneers last time out with full-back David Scott-Lennon bagging a brace. So, this is shaping up to be a good examination of both sides’ promotion credentials.
Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since March 2012
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win
DOLPHIN (6th) v OLD WESLEY (1st), Irish Independent Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLW; Old Wesley: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Cian McGovern 10; Tries: John Madigan, Will Hanly, Niall Scannell 1 each; Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 48; Tries: Ian Cassidy 2
Preview: Old Wesley, the second tier’s form team, pay a visit to a Dolphin side that steadied the ship with their opening win of the season away to UL Bohemians (28-13).
The Cork club’s forward strength was evident as they picked up two penalty tries and hooker Niall Scannell also forced his way over during a fine second half display in Limerick.
Winning on Leeside would be a big statement of intent from Wesley who beat Harlequins 33-8 for a third successive bonus point victory. Their goal-kicking winger Barry McLaughlin remains out in front as the division’s top scorer with 48 points.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v UL BOHEMIANS (7th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dublin University: LL; UL Bohemians: LWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Conor Kearns 14; Tries: Raef Tyrrell, Angus Lloyd, Paddy Lavelle, Tim Maupin, Conor Kearns 1 each; UL Bohemians: Points: Rick McKenna 10; Tries: Darren Moroney, Cian Aherne, Kevin O’Byrne 1 each
Preview: On the back of a demanding schedule at the World Universities Rugby Cup, Dublin University put in a brave effort at Ballymena in the last round with late tries from Paddy Lavelle and Tim Maupin earning them a bonus point.
They lost this equivalent fixture 16-13 last year and will be very eager to win their first home game of the season ahead of next Friday’s visit of St. Mary’s to College Park.
With their derby clash with Shannon looming large on the horizon, UL Bohs are in a similar boat. A five-point gap has already developed between the division’s top five clubs and those below. So whoever loses this will be playing catch-up, just four rounds in.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 20, 2014: Dublin University 13 UL Bohemians 16, Sydney Parade; Saturday, January 3, 2015: UL Bohemians 13 Dublin University 32, Thomond Park back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
SHANNON (10th) v BALLYMENA (2nd), Coonagh
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Shannon: LLL; Ballymena: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Ronan McKenna 14; Tries: Shane Mullaney, Ronan McKenna, Sean McCarthy, John Shine, Stephen Fitzgerald 1 each; Ballymena: Points: Ritchie McMaster 32; Tries: Callum Patterson 4
Preview: Shannon have fond memories of hosting Ballymena last March when tries from Richie Mullane and Niall Horan helped them to an 18-11 success. Their new head coach Marcus Horan would gladly take a win by any margin following a run of three straight losses.
A heavy 45-12 defeat at St. Mary’s was not good for Shannon’s morale, albeit that try scorers John Shine and Stephen Fitzgerald remain potential match winners on their day.
Unbeaten Ballymena just look too strong at present – and too far along in their development – for Shannon to derail them. Talented centre Callum Patterson is chasing his fifth try in four league outings.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 22, 2014: Ballymena 43 Shannon 15, Eaton Park; Saturday, March 28, 2015: Shannon 18 Ballymena 11, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win