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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

The race for automatic promotion from Division 1B could be decided tonight as St. Mary’s College and Dublin University meet in an Irish Rugby TV-live streamed clash.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, April 2

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (1st) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd), Templeville Road, tonight, 7.30pm (live on Irish Rugby TV)

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WWWLWWWWWWWWWWWW; Dublin University: LLWWWWWWWWLWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 144; Tries: Mark Fallon, Ryan O’Loughlin, Darragh Fanning 6 each; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 155; Tries: Tim Maupin 10

Preview: The Irish Rugby TV cameras will be at Templeville Road to live stream this mouth-watering meeting of Division 1B’s top two clubs.

Table-topping St. Mary’s know that another win – their 13th in-a-row – would secure their promotion straight back to the top flight. Standing in their way is the last team to beat them, second-placed Trinity.

The students won 20-14 when the sides met at College Park back in October, and Tony Smeeth’s youngsters are relishing this return fixture. Fireworks are expected, and it may come down to the respective boots of Sean Kearns and Jack McDermott who have both been in fine form of late.

Recent League Meeting – Friday, October 9, 2015: Dublin University 20 St. Mary’s College 14, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win

BALLYMENA (3rd) v DOLPHIN (7th), Eaton Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Ballymena: WWWWWLWWWWWLLLWL; Dolphin: LLWLWWLLWLLLWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Ritchie McMaster 98; Tries: Rodger McBurney 8; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 63; Tries: Chris Rowe 7

Preview: Ballymena are set for a top four finish and a crack at the Division 1A relegation/promotion play-offs at the end of this month.

Four losses in five saw the Braidmen lose touch with front-running St. Mary’s and Trinity, despite full-back Rodger McBurney’s try-scoring exploits (he has eight in all).

Dolphin are still battling to confirm their Division 1B status for next season and they had a particularly tough run-in, with table-topping Mary’s visiting them in the final round.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 19, 2015: Dolphin 10 Ballymena 37, Irish Independent Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (8th) v SHANNON (6th), Stradbrook

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Blackrock College: WWLLLLLWLWLLLWLL; Shannon: LLLLWWWWLLWWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Jack O’Carroll 50; Tries: Mikey Carroll, Sean Coughlan 4 each; Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 78; Tries: Will Leonard 6

Preview: There was plenty of early season promise for both of these clubs, but Blackrock and Shannon have struggled for results of late.

Shannon have slumped to four defeats on the bounce, with their captain Lee Nicholas admitting: “It’s been a very inconsistent season for us, with good patches and some bad ones. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons why.”

Blackrock won 21-16 in Limerick back in September. Completing the double over Shannon would keep them out of the clutches of that dreaded relegation play-off spot.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 22, 2014: Blackrock College 18 Shannon 19, Stradbrook; Saturday, September 19, 2015: Shannon 16 Blackrock College 21, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

BUCCANEERS (5th) v OLD WESLEY (4th), Dubarry Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: WLWWLLLLLWWWLLWW; Old Wesley: WWWWLLWLLLLWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon 112; Tries: Rory O’Connor 12; Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 145; Tries: Ian Cassidy 5

Preview: Buccaneers and Old Wesley are still pushing to reach the extended Division 1A relegation/promotion play-offs, involving the 1B sides finishing second to fourth.

Fourth-placed Wesley have a one-point lead in that regard, and they accounted for Buccs (42-38) in a very entertaining tussle at Donnybrook in round 2.

There is the added spice of six ex-Buccs players in the Wesley squad, while the Pirates will be thankful that their talismanic out-half Conor McKeon is needed for PRO12 duty this week.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 19, 2015: Old Wesley 42 Buccaneers 38, Donnybrook

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win

UL BOHEMIANS (9th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (10th), Annacotty

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UL Bohemians: LWLLLWLLWLLLWWLW; Belfast Harlequins: LLLLLLLLLLWLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Rick McKenna 103; Tries: Darren Moroney, Ian Condell 4 each; Belfast Harlequins: Points: Mark Best 63; Tries: Mark Glover 4

Preview: The division’s bottom two clubs face off in Limerick, with Belfast Harlequins’ relegation already sealed by results in the last round.

‘Quins actually beat Wesley 29-24 in their most recent fixture and although their visitors only have pride to play for here, UL Bohs will be taking nothing for granted.

A second win on the trot would go down a treat for ninth-placed UL, who won away to Dolphin last time out. Their centres Darren Moroney and Rory White have shared out four tries in as many games.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 20, 2014: Belfast Harlequins 38 UL Bohemians 7, Deramore Park; Saturday, September 19, 2015: Belfast Harlequins 18 UL Bohemians 20, Deramore Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UL Bohemians to win