Three of the leading four teams in Division 1B are away from home on Saturday, with table toppers St. Mary’s visiting UL Bohemians, second-placed Ballymena looking to bounce back at Buccaneers, and fourth-ranked Dublin University have a Leeside date with Dolphin.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, November 7
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BELFAST HARLEQUINS (10th) v SHANNON (8th), Deramore Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Belfast Harlequins: LLLLLL; Shannon: LLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Belfast Harlequins: Points: Mark Best 35; Tries: David McMaster, Mark Best, Frankie Taggart, Mark Foster 2 each; Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 25; Tries: Tony Cusack 2
Preview: Two teams that seem to be going in opposite directions at present, with Belfast Harlequins still awaiting their first win and Shannon chasing a third victory on the trot.
Adam Larkin’s ‘Quins will need no reminding how important home games are, particularly in their current lowly position. They need to tighten up their discipline as a yellow card for captain Neil McComb proved very costly at Trinity last Saturday.
Any penalties will be punished if Shannon out-half Tadhg Bennett continues his dead-eye form. He finished with 20 points against Old Wesley, and the Limerick men will want to avenge last February’s 31-13 reversal at Deramore.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 1, 2014: Shannon 21 Belfast Harlequins 26, Thomond Park; Saturday, February 21, 2015: Belfast Harlequins 31 Shannon 13, Deramore Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win
DOLPHIN (6th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (4th), Irish Independent Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLWLWW; Dublin University: LLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Cian McGovern 24; Tries: Will Hanly, Chris Rowe, Cian Bohane 2 each; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 53; Tries: Jack McDermott, Max McFarland, Conor Kearns 3 each
Preview: Rory Scannell was effectively the difference between Dolphin winning and losing last week against Buccaneers. But he is on the bench for Munster this weekend, so the likes of Cian McGovern and Cian Bohane will need to step up for Feargus O’Donoghue’s charges.
Dublin University have only won one of their three away games so far, but they enjoyed a very profitable October, notching four straight wins and 17 league points in all.
Trinity’s greater consistency suggests they should prevail, especially if centres Paddy Lavelle and Seb Fromm get the edge in the midfield battle.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
OLD WESLEY (3rd) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (7th), Donnybrook
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Wesley: WWWWLL; Blackrock College: WWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 82; Tries: Ian Cassidy, Barry McLaughlin, Niall O’Brien, Rory Stynes 2 each; Blackrock College: Points: Alan Hughes 22; Tries: Mikey Carroll 3
Preview: The two clubs that came up from Division 2A last term renew rivalries, and this looks like an ideal opportunity for Old Wesley to recapture their form after two testing weeks.
Back-to-back losses to Trinity and Shannon saw them fall from first to third, but Morgan Lennon’s charges are only three points off the summit and a repeat of last January’s 33-15 triumph over ‘Rock would do nicely.
However, two wins and three losing bonus points show Blackrock are a tough team to beat, and Emmet Farrell will have his troops primed for a big performance in this south Dublin derby.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, January 14, 2015: Blackrock College 15 Old Wesley 33, Stradbrook
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win
UL BOHEMIANS (9th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (1st), Annacotty
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWLLLW; St. Mary’s College: WWWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Robbie Bourke 31; Tries: Darren Moroney, Jamie McNamara 2 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 68; Tries: Darragh Fanning 4
Preview: St. Mary’s have laid down a marker by beating likely promotion rivals Buccaneers and Ballymena in recent weeks, claiming the latter’s unbeaten record last time out.
Now top of the table on scoring difference, Peter Smyth’s men will be hoping for another positive outcome from only their second trip out of Dublin so far this season.
UL Bohs ended a three-match losing streak by overhauling Blackrock at Stradbrook, aided by winger Jamie McNamara’s brace of tries. But it is hard to see them outscoring a Mary’s side that is averaging almost 30 points per game.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 29, 2012: St. Mary’s College 17 UL Bohemians 13, Templeville Road; Saturday, April 13, 2013: UL Bohemians 15 St. Mary’s College 3, Annacotty
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win
BUCCANEERS (5th) v BALLYMENA (2nd), Dubarry Park, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: WLWWLL; Ballymena: WWWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon 47; Tries: Rory O’Connor 5; Ballymena: Points: Ritchie McMaster 49; Tries: Callum Patterson 5
Preview: These clubs are two of the highest points scorers in the division, so the entertainment value should be high in this floodlit clash in Athlone.
Buccaneers’ flying winger Rory O’Connor has already scored ten tries this season – five of them in the league – and dangerous Ballymena backs Callum Patterson (5) and Rodger McBurney (4) have tallied up nine between them.
Provincial call-ups, including talented young out-half Conor McKeon, will impact on Buccs’ starting line-up, and Ballymena, determined to bounce back from their defeat at St. Mary’s, look the stronger all-round side.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 6, 2014: Buccaneers 8 Ballymena 23, Dubarry Park; Saturday, April 11, 2015: Ballymena 45 Buccaneers 0, Eaton Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win