Having been knocked off the summit of Division 1A, Clontarf will be determined to bounce back away to in-form Terenure College in the lone Friday Night Lights clash. Meanwhile, Saturday is packed full of Halloween treats with games in Cork, Galway, Dublin and Limerick.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 31
Kick-off 2pm unless stated –
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TERENURE COLLEGE (5th) v CLONTARF (2nd), Lakelands Park, tonight, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Terenure College: LWLWW; Clontarf: WWWDL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Stephen O’Neill 20; Tries: James O’Neill, James O’Donoghue 2 each; Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 53; Tries: Mick McGrath 6
Preview: Late wins over Garryowen and UCD suggest Terenure College are showing more of a clinical edge in recent weeks. But will they be able to make it three in-a-row against Clontarf?
‘Tarf’s first defeat of the season – a 15-14 loss at home to Cork Constitution – knocked them off the top of the table, and Lakelands is a particularly tough place to be chasing your first victory in three games.
However, Andy Wood’s men took a 9-0 verdict in last April’s semi-final at the Dublin 6W venue, and they have the personnel to secure a repeat result this evening.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 21, 2015: Clontarf 16 Terenure College 11, Castle Avenue; Saturday, April 25, 2015: Semi-final: Terenure College 0 Clontarf 9, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (7th) v BALLYNAHINCH (10th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: LDLDW; Ballynahinch: LLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 61; Tries: Kerry Desmond, Brian Hayes, Luke Cahill, James Murphy, Darren Sweetnam 1 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Richard Reaney, Chris Quinn 14 each; Tries: Lorcan Dow, Craig Trenier 2 each
Preview: Edging out former leaders Clontarf by a single point provided a timely confidence boost for Cork Constitution, who followed up with a 57-6 Munster Senior Cup hammering of Highfield last week.
The Leesiders really need to up their try-scoring rate. They have relied on out-half Tomas Quinlan for 61 of their 86 points so far, and are the only team yet to register a try-scoring bonus point.
Bottom side Ballynahinch make the trip south at a bad time, with four defeats on the bounce. Getting a consistent 80-minute performance has been a real problem for Derek Suffern’s charges, and Con look well equipped to take the points.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 27, 2014: Cork Constitution 23 Ballynahinch 16, Temple Hill; Saturday, January 10, 2015: Ballynahinch 34 Cork Constitution 13, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
GALWEGIANS (8th) v UCD (4th), Crowley Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: WLLWL; UCD: LWWDL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 34; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 5; UCD: Points: Billy Dardis 23; Tries: Billy Dardis, Barry Daly 3 each
Preview: Two teams that disappointed in the previous round, Galwegians turning in a below-par display away to Garryowen and UCD suffering a late collapse at home to Terenure.
‘Wegians’ two wins so far have come at home. They usually reserve their best form for Crowley Park where their leading try scorer Ed O’Keeffe (5 tries) touched down twice against Lansdowne.
UCD could easily be on a four-match winning streak, given that they drew with Cork Con and were just pipped by Terenure in the dying minutes. Billy Dardis and Barry Daly have scored six tries between them, evidence of a back-line that remains one of the best in the top flight.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 26, 2011: UCD 13 Galwegians 26, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, March 3, 2012: Galwegians 38 UCD 17, Crowley Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win
LANSDOWNE (6th) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Aviva Stadium main pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WDWLL; Garryowen: WDWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 37; Tries: Brian Moylett, Tom Farrell 2 each; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 25; Tries: Steve McMahon 3
Preview: There will be no sense of panic at Lansdowne as they are only two points off the top four, but the manner of their back-to-back defeats to Galwegians and Old Belvedere must be concerning.
Their failure to score against ‘Belvo (19-0) will have frustrated captain Scott Deasy and in particular, centres Tom Daly and Tom Farrell who usually find a way to unlock defences.
With their skipper Josh Hrstich in potent form off the back of the scrum, Garryowen are coming along nicely but still searching for a first success on the road. Nonetheless, if Lansdowne tighten up their defence out wide, Mike Ruddock’s side should get back to winning ways.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 30, 2013: Garryowen 10 Lansdowne 35, Dooradoyle; Saturday, January 25, 2014: Lansdowne 13 Garryowen 9, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (1st), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LDLDW; Old Belvedere: WLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 45; Tries: Alan Kennedy 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Shane McDonald 43; Tries: Rory O’Loughlin 5
Preview: Old Belvedere’s 19-0 dismissal of defending champions Lansdowne pushed them to the summit. Perhaps a little too early for head coach Paul Cunningham’s liking, but if they win in Greenfields they have two successive home games (against Garryowen and Cork Con) to look forward to.
Young wingers Shane McDonald (43 points) and Rory O’Loughlin (5 tries) have shone so far for the Dubliners, with Leinster Academy talent O’Loughlin really hitting a rich vein of form.
The wing battle between O’Loughlin and Young Munster flyer Diarmaid McCarthy should be an intriguing one. The Cookies, who now have former Ireland international David Corkery on board as head coach, opened their win account away to Ballynahinch, and the combination of a strongly-built pack and a reliable goal-kicker (Paul Downes – 45 points) makes them very hard opposition to overhaul.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 4, 2014: Young Munster 26 Old Belvedere 19, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, January 31, 2015: Old Belvedere 38 Young Munster 18, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win