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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League Division 1B resumes tonight with the meeting of Limerick rivals UL Bohemians and Shannon, while the Old Wesley v Dublin University and Buccaneers v St. Mary’s College ties top the bill on Saturday afternoon.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, October 17

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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UL BOHEMIANS (8th) v SHANNON (10th), Thomond Park, tonight, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWLL; Shannon: LLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Robbie Bourke 29; Tries: Darren Moroney, Cian Aherne, Kevin O’Byrne 1 each; Shannon: Points: Ronan McKenna 14; Tries: Tony Cusack 2

Preview: There is nothing like a floodlit Limerick derby to get the Ulster Bank League weekend underway. This fixture is a timely one, with UL Bohemians and Shannon both looking to shake off some disappointing recent displays.

Occupying two of the division’s bottom two places, these local rivals have been struggling to produce results under new coaches Gearoid Prendergast (UL Bohs) and Marcus Horan (Shannon).

Bohs really need to increase their try-scoring threat. They relied on Robbie Bourke for seven penalty goals in their most recent loss to Trinity, while Shannon’s sheer competitiveness against second-placed Ballymena suggests they are very close to Horan’s maiden victory.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 14, 2014: Shannon 20 UL Bohemians 16, Thomond Park; Friday, March 6, 2015: UL Bohemians 14 Shannon 26, Thomond Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

BALLYMENA (2nd) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (6th), Eaton Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: WWWW; Blackrock College: WWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Ritchie McMaster 39; Tries: Callum Patterson 4; Blackrock College: Points: Jack O’Carroll, Alan Hughes 14 each; Tries: Cillian Duff, David Scott-Lennon 2 each

Preview: A strong finish saw Ballymena prevail at Shannon last time out. Whether at full-back or in the centre, Rodger McBurney remains a serious attacking force and he scored his third try in as many matches in Limerick.

Blackrock have lost some of their early momentum with back-to-back defeats. They caved to St. Mary’s (23-19) late on, giving away a decisive try from a scrum. On the plus side, goal-kicking full-back Alan Hughes was assured with a 14-point contribution.

Blackrock won 32-17 up at Eaton Park in March 2013, but a repeat result is unlikely with Andy Graham’s Braidmen poised for win number five since the start of the season.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 1, 2012: Blackrock College 18 Ballymena 23, Stradbrook; Saturday, March 2, 2013: Ballymena 17 Blackrock College 32, Eaton Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win

BELFAST HARLEQUINS (9th) v DOLPHIN (7th), Deramore Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: LLLL; Dolphin: LLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Mark Best 29; Tries: David McMaster, Mark Best, Frankie Taggart 2 each; Dolphin: Points: Cian McGovern 22; Tries: Will Hanly 2

Preview: Four successive defeats made for a very forgettable opening spell for Belfast Harlequins, despite the best efforts of David McMaster, Mark Best and Frankie Taggart who chipped in with two tries each.

With visitors Dolphin only four points better off in the table, Harlequins will have targeted this game as a gilt-edged opportunity to open their win account.

Aided by winger Will Hanly’s second try of the campaign, the Corkmen ran leaders Old Wesley close in the previous round. Another one-score game looks likely here.

Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since December 2006

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Belfast Harlequins to win

BUCCANEERS (4th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd), Dubarry Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: WLWW; St. Mary’s College: WWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon 39; Tries: Rory O’Connor, Alan Gaughan 3 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 43; Tries: Darragh Fanning 4

Preview: Fourth-placed Buccaneers and St. Mary’s, in third, are both only four points off the summit, so this could be a key encounter in terms of building momentum for a promotion bid.

With three wins from four outings, these two sides have started the campaign in encouraging fashion. Mary’s, though, are smarting from last week’s 20-14 reversal at Trinity where only fleet-footed young winger Terry Kennedy could force his way over.

Buccs have to be favoured at their Athlone fortress, even with the influential Shane Layden out injured. There are some intriguing individual match-ups, particularly at out-half where young guns Conor McKeon and Sean Kearns (with 82 points between them) go head to head.

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

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win

OLD WESLEY (1st) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (5th), Donnybrook

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Wesley: WWWW; Dublin University: LLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 67; Tries: Ian Cassidy, Barry McLaughlin, Niall O’Brien 2 each; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 39; Tries: Jack McDermott 3

Preview: Table toppers Old Wesley still look in irresistible form. An unblemished four wins from four, three bonus points and almost half of their scores coming from goal-kicking winger Barry McLaughlin (67 points, including two tries).

But Dublin University are just the sort of side who could trouble Wesley on their home patch. They have their own scoring star in talented number 10 Jack McDermott who amassed 39 points in their back-to-back victories over UL Bohemians and St. Mary’s.

They won last week’s rescheduled clash with Mary’s 20-14, and this Donnybrook duel is set up to be a cracking contest and Wesley’s most difficult test since their promotion.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, April 1, 2011: Old Wesley 10 Dublin University 22, Donnybrook; Saturday, April 14, 2012: Dublin University 12 Old Wesley 10, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win