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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

The final day of the regular season in Division 1A sees Young Munster and Cork Constitution both aim for a home semi-final, while it is decision time at the bottom end of the table.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 16

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (10th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLWLWWLLLLW; Garryowen: WDWLWLWLLWLWDLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 119; Tries: Craig Trenier, Aaron Cairns, Robin Harte 3 each; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 114; Tries: Neil Cronin, James McInerney 5 each

Preview: Bottom side Ballynahinch will have to pull off one of the greatest escapes in league history to avoid automatic relegation. They trail Galwegians by five points, so they need a sizable bonus point win over Garryowen and a favourable result between Cork Constitution and ‘Wegians.

A key element to that is making up a -44 scoring difference on the Galway men. ‘Hinch boss Derek Suffern said: “Avoiding the straight drop is a slim hope so we have to look after our own house first and foremost and then wait and see.”

Their cause may be helped by the fact that Garryowen are no longer in the hunt for promotion, but the Light Blues did beat the Co. Down outfit in their last two meetings (18-9 and 14-10), both at Dooradoyle.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 1, 2014: Garryowen 18 Ballynahinch 9, Dooradoyle; Saturday, September 12, 2015: Garryowen 14 Ballynahinch 10, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

CLONTARF (1st) v UCD (4th), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWDLWWDWLLWWWWWW; UCD: LWWDLWWWWWWLWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 130; Tries: Mick McGrath 12; UCD: Points: Barry Daly 55; Tries: Barry Daly 11

Preview: Unless UCD edge ahead of Cork Constitution in the final table, they will be repeating this visit to Clontarf in the upcoming Division 1A semi-finals.

Beaten by Ballynahinch last time out, the students have now fallen to four defeats on the trot and they are desperate to post a morale-boosting result, especially given that ‘Tarf won the sides’ two most recent clashes (38-17 and 24-16).

The north Dubliners have top spot locked down, lying a full eight points clear, and the division’s top try scorer Mick McGrath (12 tries) is still as dangerous as ever on the left wing. 

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 31, 2015: UCD 17 Clontarf 38, Belfield Bowl; Friday, September 11, 2015: UCD 16 Clontarf 24, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v GALWEGIANS (9th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: LDLDWWLLWWLWLWWWW; Galwegians: WLLWLLLWWLLLLWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 157; Tries: Aaron Spring, Tomas Quinlan 4 each; Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 58; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 7

Preview: A dress rehearsal for the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup final on April 30, but neither club will be thinking beyond tomorrow as Cork Constitution chase a home league semi-final and Galwegians battle to avoid relegation.

Constitution have emerged as the division’s form team of late with four straight victories, aided by some superb individual displays from top scorer Tomas Quinlan (157 points), his back-three colleague Aaron Spring (4 tries) and captain James Ryan.

Second-from-bottom ‘Wegians have four points to make up on Terenure above them, and bottom side Ballynahinch are five points worse off. The Galway club will need some more heroics from the likes of John Cleary and Aidan Moynihan to end their three-match losing streak.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 12, 2015: Galwegians 12 Cork Constitution 11, Crowley Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (8th) v OLD BELVEDERE (6th), Lakelands Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LWLWWLWLLLLLWLWLW; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLWLLLLLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 95; Tries: Jake Swaine 6; Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 66; Tries: Daniel Riordan 6

Preview: Terenure College still have work to do to avoid falling into the relegation play-offs spot, while Old Belvedere are out of the running for the top four but assured of their Division 1A status for another year.

‘Nure, who have won three of their last five games, hold a four-point buffer over Galwegians, but they will want to get the job done themselves rather than relying on a favourable result from Cork Con v ‘Wegians.

‘Belvo gave table toppers Clontarf a decent rattle when losing 27-21 last time out, and they are chasing a season’s double over Terenure after beating them convincingly (27-8) on the opening night back in September.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 11, 2015: Old Belvedere 18 Terenure College 8, Anglesea Road; Friday, September 11, 2015: Old Belvedere 27 Terenure College 8, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v LANSDOWNE (7th), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LDLDWWWWLWWWWWLWW; Lansdowne: WDWLLWLDLWWWDLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Gearoid Lyons 107; Tries: Alan Kennedy 4; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 167; Tries: Scott Deasy 5

Preview: What a difference seven months can make. Lansdowne opened their title defence back in September with a storming 29-6 victory over Young Munster, but they have since slid down the league and are destined for a mid-table finish at best.

Contrast that with Munsters who have risen from tenth place back then to their current lofty position of second. David Corkery took the coaching reins from Anthony Mathison and the wins – 11 in all – have the Cookies through to the play-offs for the second consecutive year.

They could yet seal a home semi-final at their Greenfields fortress – they have a point to spare over Cork Con – and beating Lansdowne on the final day would give them some revenge for last year’s extra-time heartbreak against the headquarters club.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 25, 2015: Semi-final – Lansdowne 23 Young Munster 19 (AET), Aviva Stadium main pitch; Saturday, September 12, 2015: Lansdowne 29 Young Munster 6, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win