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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B-2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B-2C Previews

The Christmas shopping has been put on hold for players and coaches from eight difference clubs this Saturday as four Ulster Bank League matches go ahead in Cork, Derry and Navan.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: Saturday, December 19

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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DOLPHIN (9th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (7th), Irish Independent Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LLWLWWLL; Blackrock College: WWLLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Cian McGovern 27; Tries: Will Hanly, Chris Rowe, Cian Bohane, Shane McAuliffe 2 each; Blackrock College: Points: Jack O’Carroll 27; Tries: Mikey Carroll 4

Preview: Originally postponed on December 5, this pre-Christmas clash has the potential to be a real cracker with a win for struggling Dolphin potentially lifting them above visitors Blackrock into seventh place.

That is easier said than done, of course, and November was certinaly a disappointing month for the Corkmen who lost to both Dublin University (44-3) and Shannon (30-19). It is no coincidence that their best results come when Munster backs Rory Scannell and Cian Bohane are on the field, but both Bohane and the two Scannell brothers are on provincial duty this weekend.

Dolphin will need other players to step up, like full-back Shane McAuliffe who is chasing his third try in as many matches. Blackrock have unlikely top try scorer in prop Mikey Carroll, who has bagged four tries in his last six outings, and the loosehead is clearly thriving in an Owen Cullen-led pack.

These sides are split by just three points in the table, and a one-score game looks likely with Blackrock favoured to take the verdict and make it back-to-back league wins for Emmet Farrell’s side.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 8, 2011: Dolphin 17 Blackrock College 10, Musgrave Park; Saturday, March 31, 2012: Blackrock College 31 Dolphin 24, Stradbrook

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win


UCC (5th) v Thomond (9th), the Mardyke

Preview: These Munster rivals will be hoping it is third time lucky after their recent back-to-back clashes were both called off due to waterlogged pitches. Since beating current leaders Banbridge in late September, Thomond’s results have been poor with four losses in the last five rounds.

Both form and home advantage suggest UCC should claim the spoils here. The Cork students are on a three-match unbeaten run, and another victory would send them into the top four and possibly up to third spot, giving their promotion bid a serious boost.

Hard to see them maintaining their recent average of 31 points per game if the weather is wet again, so Kevin O’Keeffe’s place-kicking might prove to be the difference for the hosts.


City of Derry (1st) v Rainey Old Boys (6th), Judge’s Road

Preview: These local rivals have had their patience tested after two postponements in as many weeks, so table toppers City of Derry and sixth-placed Rainey will be raring to go coming kick-off time.

Derry boss Terry McMaster will field the same squad originally chosen for last weekend’s postponed tie in Magherafelt, with Neil Burns given the nod at out-half. They will be very eager to get back on track after struggling to see off bottom side Seapoint last time out.

Rainey gained momentum from their surprise 18-13 win over second-placed Highfield three weeks ago, aided by an excellent return from their scrum. A repeat performance from John Andrews’ youngsters would be ideal as they try to climb further up the table, but City of Derry should have the edge on them.


Navan (6th) v Boyne (7th), Balreask Old

Preview: A big derby game for both sides, as Alan Kingsley’s Navan team look to build on last Saturday’s encouraging 28-18 dismissal of Wanderers and draw closer to the division’s top four.

Boyne’s 21-19 defeat of bottom club Dundalk was their first win in five away trips this season, and they would have to go up a couple of notches – particularly in defence – to get the better of Navan. There may be only six points between the sides in the standings, but the Balreask Old outfit have a +59 scoring difference compared to Boyne’s -50.

Navan won 16-13 when these local rivals met at Shamrock Lodge in early November, the disciplined and well-organised Boyne defence frustrating the visitors but a 62nd minute penalty from player-coach Kingsley proved to be the match-winning score.