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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Two of the most anticipated matches in the latest round of Ulster Bank League Division 1A are in the capital on Saturday, as current leaders UCD entertain fellow play-off hopefuls Garryowen and there is a repeat of last year’s final between Clontarf and Lansdowne at Castle Avenue.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 9

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (10th) v GALWEGIANS (8th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLWL; Galwegians: WLLWLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 55; Tries: Craig Trenier 3; Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 46; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 6

Preview: Ballynahinch can draw on a tremendous second half comeback away to Lansdowne last week, albeit that they fell short at 29-24 and only had a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

The top flight’s bottom side are without one of their try scorers from that day, the injured Adam Craig, and Richard Reaney and Stuart Morrow will also be absent in the back-line. But the return of Ulster’s Peter Browne could prove important up front in this dress rehearsal for next week’s Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final in Glenina.

Giving the league positions of both clubs, this is a ‘must win’ game for both. If Galwegians continue the clinical form they showed in overcoming in-form Young Munster (15-12), then a second successive New Year victory should be theirs.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 21, 2012: Ballynahinch 29 Galwegians 20, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, November 28, 2015: Galwegians 33 Ballynahinch 16, Crowley Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win

CLONTARF (2nd) v LANSDOWNE (5th), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: WWWDLWWDWL; Lansdowne: WDWLLWLDLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 93; Tries: Mick McGrath 9; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 84; Tries: Joe O’Brien 3

Preview: Lansdowne’s hopes of reaching the play-offs improved last week with their bonus point win over Ballynahinch and defeats for two of their main rivals – Clontarf and Old Belvedere.

Mike Ruddock’s men head across the Liffey on Saturday, knowing that a second straight victory could move them back into the top four. There was little between the sides when they met in November – a late Joe O’Brien try helping Lansdowne to a 23-all draw.

Clontarf, who ended the game with 13 men, were kicking themselves after that result. Garryowen managed to contain ‘Tarf’s main attacking threats in securing a 10-3 success in Limerick last week, but Andy Wood’s charges are unlikely to let that happen again – especially in a Dublin derby.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, May 9, 2015: Final: Lansdowne 18 Clontarf 17, Aviva Stadium main pitch; Saturday, November 28, 2015: Lansdowne 23 Clontarf 23, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (7th) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: LDLDWWLLW; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 102; Tries: James Murphy 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Shane McDonald 52; Tries: Rory O’Loughlin, Daniel Riordan 5 each

Preview: Old Belvedere will be happy just to have new opponents after a run of three successive defeats to league pacesetters UCD. But the journey down to Leeside does not hold happy memories after last year’s losses away to Cork Constitution (18-17) and Dolphin (13-3).

Completing a season’s double over Con is all that is on the minds of Paul Cunningham’s men, though, as they look to follow up on November’s 19-17 triumph. Full-back Daniel Riordan cut through for a brace of tries that day, but a couple of yellow cards for the hosts allowed Con to grab a late losing bonus point.

A flying start at Terenure paved the way for a 32-22 win for the Corkmen last time out and they will want to put in another strong performance ahead of next week’s return trip to the capital for their Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final against UCD.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 6, 2014: Cork Constitution 18 Old Belvedere 17, Temple Hill; Saturday, November 28, 2015: Old Belvedere 19 Cork Constitution 17, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win

UCD (1st) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Belfield Bowl

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: LWWDLWWWWW; Garryowen: WDWLWLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 45; Tries: Barry Daly 7; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 66; Tries: Neil Cronin 4

Preview: This is a fascinating fixture with a lot hinging on the result. If leaders UCD continue on the winning trail, they will have beaten Garryowen (twice), Old Belvedere (twice) and reigning champions Lansdowne in five successive rounds. Quite a confidence boost heading into their Bateman Cup showdown with Con.

On the other hand, a victory for Garryowen – their second in as many weeks against one of their play-off rivals – would be a big fillip for them and the other clubs chasing a top four spot. Kiwi number 8 and captain Josh Hrstich steered the Light Blues past Clontarf last week on a 10-3 scoreline.

Seven points was also the difference when UCD prevailed at Dooradoyle in November, two unconverted second half tries from Sean McNulty and Jamie Glynn getting them over the line. A number of players have been making match-winning contributions recently for the students, and it is that squad depth which could prove crucial in this second half of the season.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 1, 2014: UCD 26 Garryowen 20, Belfield; Saturday, November 28, 2015: Garryowen 6 UCD 13, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (9th), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: LDLDWWWWL; Terenure College: LWLWWLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 48; Tries: Alan Kennedy 3; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 30; Tries: James O’Neill, James O’Donoghue, Jake Swaine, Ian Hanly 2 each

Preview: Young Munster had a disappointing start to the New Year when losing 15-12 away to Galwegians. They were held tryless and unable to convert their scrum dominance into scores, instead relying on the goal-kicking of Gearoid Lyons and David O’Mahony for points.

Munsters conceded two tries from lineout mauls and another from a blocked kick, so head coach David Corkery will be seeking big improvements in defence for the visit of second-from-bottom Terenure College.

Since beating current leaders UCD in October, Terenure have gone through a rough patch with three losses in four games. The Cookies were 26-8 winners at Lakelands Park in November. Out-half/centre Lyons tallied up 21 points that day, and ‘Nure will certainly have to curb his influence if they want to gain revenge.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 10, 2015: Young Munster 21 Terenure College 22, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, November 28, 2015: Terenure College 8 Young Munster 26, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win