The latest round in Ulster Bank League Division 1A has some fascinating match-ups. There is a lot of interest in UCD’s clash with defending champions Lansdowne, while new Young Munster boss David Corkery is plotting the downfall of his former club Cork Constitution at Greenfields.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 7
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BALLYNAHINCH (10th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (7th), Ballymacarn Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LLLLLL; Terenure College: LWLWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 20; Tries: Lorcan Dow, Craig Trenier, Aaron Cairns, Robin Harte 2 each; Terenure College: Points: Stephen O’Neill, Jake Swaine 20 each; Tries: James O’Neill, James O’Donoghue 2 each
Preview: A third of the way into the campaign, Ballynahinch remain rooted to the bottom of the table, winless and with the division’s worst defensive record.
But given the talented players at their disposal and with the likes of captain Paul Pritchard returning from injury, head coach Derek Suffern will be staying positive. They did run Young Munster and Cork Constitution close in recent weeks.
Although Terenure were held try-less in a home defeat to Clontarf last weekend, they should have enough firepower to beat their struggling hosts here and make it four wins out of seven.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 13, 2014: Terenure College 32 Ballynahinch 20, Lakelands Park; Saturday, December 6, 2014: Ballynahinch 14 Terenure College 10, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
CLONTARF (1st) v GALWEGIANS (9th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWWDLW; Galwegians: WLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 61; Tries: Mick McGrath 6; Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 37; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 5
Preview: Since lowering Lansdowne’s colours, Galwegians have really gone off the boil. They have failed to score a try in 160 minutes of rugby and suffered a 32-point hammering by UCD last time out.
They will be hampered by absentees this weekend, particularly in the back-three as Ciaran Gaffney, Ed O’Keeffe and Niyi Adeolokun all played 70-plus minutes for Connacht Eagles last evening.
Clontarf appear better able to cope without their provincially-tied players. The new league leaders will certainly be fired up to win on a day when Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is present for the opening of the club’s new 4G pitch.
Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since January 2011
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (4th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLWWWL; Garryowen: WDWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Shane McDonald 43; Tries: Rory O’Loughlin 5; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 30; Tries: Steve McMahon 3
Preview: Old Belvedere and Garryowen are both coming off losses on the road, so this is a crunch game for both with just three points currently separating the top four clubs.
Coached by former Garryowen boss Paul Cunningham, ‘Belvo boast the second best attack in the division and the meanest defence so far. However, backs Rory O’Loughlin and Peter Robb will both miss out given their involvement in the ‘A’ interprovincial.
Despite some set piece issues, Garryowen fought hard to earn a losing bonus point at Lansdowne, and this return trip to the capital might come at an opportune time for Conan Doyle’s Light Blues.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 7, 2013: Old Belvedere 15 Garryowen 5, Anglesea Road; Saturday, April 19, 2014: Garryowen 23 Old Belvedere 18, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
UCD (3rd) v LANSDOWNE (5th), Belfield Bowl
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: LWWDLW; Lansdowne: WDWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 31; Tries: Barry Daly, Adam Byrne 4 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 44; Tries: Brian Moylett, Tom Farrell 2 each
Preview: On paper this could be one of the best games of the early season, but again provincial commitments will force some changes on coaches Noel McNamara and Mike Ruddock.
Indeed, UCD had six of their starting side from the 35-3 win over Galwegians involved with Leinster ‘A’ last night, while regular centres Tom Farrell and Tom Daly led the Lansdowne contingent.
Last season’s corresponding fixture was won 38-31 by the students, who finished strongly with 16 unanswered points. UCD winger Barry Daly, a try scorer that day, is gunning for his third try in four games this weekend.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 1, 2014: Lansdowne 10 UCD 19, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, February 21, 2015: UCD 38 Lansdowne 31, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (8th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (6th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LDLDWW; Cork Constitution: LDLDWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 45; Tries: Alan Kennedy 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 83; Tries: James Murphy 2
Preview: A second home match on the bounce for Young Munster and what an occasion it will be for their new head coach David Corkery as he welcomes his former club Cork Constitution to Greenfields.
Interestingly, the two away teams won last season’s meetings – Munsters prevailing 9-6 at Temple Hill and Constitution returning the favour at Tom Clifford Park (6-3) – and no tries were scored.
So if it comes down to place-kicks again, Cork Con, who have Munster’s Billy Holland making his return from injury, should be favoured given that sharpshooting Tomas Quinlan has already racked up 83 points. Munsters’ Gearoid Lyons and Paul Downes are fine kickers in their own right, though, and home advantage may just sway it for Corkery’s men.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 1, 2014: Cork Constitution 6 Young Munster 9, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 21, 2015: Young Munster 3 Cork Constitution 6, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win