It is semi-final time in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League tomorrow as Clontarf and Cork Constitution look to make home advantage count against UCD and Young Munster respectively.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A SEMI-FINALS: Saturday, April 23
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (1st) v UCD (4th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWDLWWDWLLWWWWWWW; UCD: LWWDLWWWWWWLWLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 130; Tries: Mick McGrath 13; UCD: Points: Barry Daly 55; Tries: Barry Daly 11
Preview: Table toppers Clontarf wrapped up the regular season with a 25-12 win over UCD last week, and the students come calling again at the semi-final stage.
‘Tarf pulled away in the final quarter seven days ago and also won at Belfield in round 1 (24-16), but Clontarf boss Andy Wood expects an even bigger challenge this weekend.
“It’s a semi-final, it’s another step towards what we set out to do at the start of the season,” said the New Zealander. “If we get what we need to get right and a good performance comes off the back of it, the result will follow hopefully.”
Look out for the wing battle between Mick McGrath, the league’s leading scorer with 13 tries, and his Leinster ‘A’ colleague Adam Byrne, while Barry Daly (11 tries) will be keen to add to his haul from the opposite wing for ‘College.
With back rower Peadar Timmins in inspirational form, UCD’s maul was particularly effective last time out, while some of the province’s brightest front row talents will lock horns again in a fascinating scrum showdown.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 11, 2015: UCD 16 Clontarf 24, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, April 16, 2016: Clontarf 25 UCD 12, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: LDLDWWLLWWLWLWWWWW; Young Munster: LDLDWWWWLWWWWWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 163; Tries: Aaron Spring 5; Young Munster: Points: Gearoid Lyons 119; Tries: Alan Kennedy, Dan Goggin 4 each
Preview: Cork Constitution pipped Young Munster to the post in gaining home advantage, sealing a bonus point against Galwegians with centre Niall Kenneally’s late intercept try.
But with a big travelling support, Munsters captain Ger Slattery does not fear travelling to Temple Hill, admitting: “It’s two evenly-matched teams and I think the venue might even be irrelevant.
“There’s always a great battle between us and Con, there was only a point in it when they played them this year in the league.” Indeed, Munsters won 11-10 at home in November and repeated the trick (18-17) on their travels in January.
After their semi-final heartbreak against Lansdowne twelve months ago, the Cookies look even stronger under David Corkery this season, winning eight of their last nine matches.
But Con, who face ‘Wegians in next week’s Bateman Cup final, are bidding for an All-Ireland double. Tomas Quinlan, who is seven points short of Scott Deasy (170 points) in the division’s scoring charts, and winger Aaron Spring, with five tries in as many games, are two key men who could see Brian Hickey’s side avenge those two earlier defeats.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 7, 2015: Young Munster 11 Cork Constitution 10, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, January 30, 2016: Cork Constitution 17 Young Munster 18, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win