The penultimate round of Ulster Bank League Division 1A has some mouth-watering ties, including tonight’s derby offerings of Garryowen v Young Munster and Old Belvedere v Clontarf.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 2
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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GARRYOWEN (5th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Dooradoyle, tonight, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: WDWLWLWLLWLWDLWL; Young Munster: LDLDWWWWLWWWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 111; Tries: Neil Cronin, James McInerney 5 each; Young Munster: Points: Gearoid Lyons 98; Tries: Alan Kennedy 4
Preview: The picture is clear for both sides here. Lose and Garryowen will be out of the play-off race, while another win would see Young Munster hone in on a home semi-final.
The Light Blues lie seven points outside the top four after losing to Galwegians and Cork Constitution in recent rounds.
Munsters have been going the other way, stringing together six wins in seven games, and if they carry that form into April, they will be a big threat to the other title contenders.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 15, 2014: Young Munster 16 Garryowen 33, Tom Clifford Park; Friday, September 18, 2015: Young Munster 16 Garryowen 16, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
OLD BELVEDERE (6th) v CLONTARF (1st), Anglesea Road, tonight, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLWLLLLLWWW; Clontarf: WWWDLWWDWLLWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 66; Tries: Daniel Riordan 6; Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 123; Tries: Mick McGrath 11
Preview: Although they head into the final two rounds with a seven-point cushion at the top, there will be no easing off from Andy Wood’s Clontarf.
The north Dubliners have all but confirmed home advantage in the semi-finals, amassing 73 points and 10 tries in their most recent wins over Munsters and Ballynahinch.
A win over the league leaders would keep alive Belvedere’s slim hopes of making the play-offs, however fifth place looks like the best they can hope for.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 20, 2014: Old Belvedere 24 Clontarf 21, Anglesea Road; Friday, September 18, 2015: Clontarf 20 Old Belvedere 14, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
LANSDOWNE (7th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch, 1.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WDWLLWLDLWWWDLWL; Cork Constitution: LDLDWWLLWWLWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 164; Tries: Scott Deasy 5; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 147; Tries: James Murphy, James Ryan, Max Abbott, Aaron Spring, Conor Kindregan, Niall Kenneally, Tomas Quinlan 3 each
Preview: Despite the best efforts of top-scoring captain Scott Deasy (164 points), defending champions Lansdowne have fallen well off the pace.
Their capitulation against Terenure College, going down 32-3 at Lakelands last time out, leaves them seventh overall and they look destined for a mid-table finish.
Third-placed Cork Con, on the other hand, are on a three-match winning streak. They hit the capital with the momentum of last week’s 35-17 bonus point victory over Terenure, during which free-scoring full-back Tomas Quinlan tallied up 20 points.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 7, 2015: Lansdowne 27 Cork Constitution 20, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, September 19, 2015: Cork Constitution 22 Lansdowne 22, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
GALWEGIANS (9th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (8th), Crowley Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Galwegians: WLLWLLLWWLLLLWLL; Terenure College: LWLWWLWLLLLLWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 53; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 7; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 86; Tries: Jake Swaine 5
Preview: It is crunch time for both of these clubs, as they battle to avoid ninth place and the relegation/promotion play-offs with the second to fourth-placed finishers in Division 1B.
Terenure looked in rude health when thrashing Lansdowne 32-3 in early March, but they were rocked back onto their heels by Cork Con (35-17) last week.
Galwegians certainly have match winners in John Cleary and Api Pewhairangi, and they really have to make home advantage count with a trip to Con to come in the final round.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 29, 2012: Terenure College 19 Galwegians 8, Lakelands Park; Saturday, September 19, 2015: Terenure College 32 Galwegians 21, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win
UCD (4th) v BALLYNAHINCH (10th), Belfield Bowl
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWWDLWWWWWWLWLLL; Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLWLWWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Barry Daly 55; Tries: Barry Daly 11; Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 114; Tries: Craig Trenier, Aaron Cairns 3 each
Preview: It is a very tall order but bottom side Ballynahinch could still mathematically avoid automatic relegation. Two closing wins (ideally with bonus points) would give them a fighting chance.
However, Derek Suffern’s men have not won a league game since late January and former leaders UCD, hurting from three straight losses, are unlikely to be in a charitable mood.
At their early season peak, the students hammered ‘Hinch 47-13 in Co. Down. The margin should be tighter this time around, but expect UCD to seal their play-off berth.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 28, 2015: Ballynahinch 18 UCD 16, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, September 19, 2015: Ballynahinch 13 UCD 47, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win