Two Friday Night Lights fixtures launch the latest round of the Ulster Bank League’s top flight, as leaders Lansdowne and St. Mary’s play host to Old Belvedere and Dublin University respectively.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 1
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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LANSDOWNE (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Friday, September 30, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WW; Old Belvedere: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 21; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 2; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 22; Tries: Shane McDonald 3
Preview: As well as Ulster Bank League points being on the line, this floodlit tie doubles up as the Leinster Senior League Cup final with both Lansdowne and Old Belvedere coming through the group stages unbeaten.
The headquarters club have brought that winning form into Division 1A and their rampant pack will have to be curtailed by a ‘Belvo side smarting from a 13-11 home defeat by Garryowen.
Mindful of Belvedere’s quality (they did the double on Lansdowne last season), Mike Ruddock said: “Belvedere are going to be difficult, no doubt about that. Another big battle at the breakdown is in store and, with a six-day turnaround, the freshest side on the day, I think, will be the winning team.”
Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 16, 2015: Old Belvedere 19 Lansdowne 0, Anglesea Road; Saturday, February 20, 2016: Lansdowne 15 Old Belvedere 26, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (6th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th), Templeville Road, Friday, September 30, 7.30pm (live streaming on Irish Rugby Facebook page)
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LW; Dublin University: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 29; Tries: Sean Kearns, Brian McGovern, Paddy O’Driscoll 1 each; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 18; Tries: Paddy Finlay, Michael Courtney, Evan Dixon, Colm Hogan 1 each
Preview: The two teams that came up from Division 1B at the end of last season. Sean Kearns’ right boot decided the corresponding fixture in St. Mary’s favour – 9-5 in April – in response to Trinity’s 20-14 October win.
Kearns was coolness personified when drilling over the late penalty that defeated title holders Clontarf last week. The 21-year-old out-half is already top of the division’s scoring charts with 29 points after two rounds.
Trinity gave their arch rivals UCD a good rattle before losing 23-13, and this week they will be facing their former captain Paddy Lavelle, who had a terrific debut in the Mary’s midfield against ‘Tarf.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 9, 2015: Dublin University 20 St. Mary’s College 14, College Park; Friday, April 1, 2016: St. Mary’s College 9 Dublin University 5, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win
GARRYOWEN (7th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (9th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LW; Cork Constitution: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 18; Tries: Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, Johnny Keane, David Johnston, Andrew O’Byrne 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan, Shane Daly 10 each; Tries: Shane Daly 2
Preview: Garryowen delivered the goods in their opening win away to Old Belvedere, captain Neil Cronin kicking three from three in what was new forwards coach Denis Leamy’s debut on the touchline.
They will be expecting a backlash from Cork Constitution who were surprisingly hammered by Young Munster (37-15). Con’s discipline and scrummaging simply have to improve – their four yellow cards in the first two rounds were costly.
The Light Blues blooded an impressive nine league debutants over the past fortnight. One of those newcomers, Liam Coombes, should have a fascinating full-back duel with Cork Con’s Ireland Under-20 international Shane Daly.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 26, 2015: Garryowen 23 Cork Constitution 19, Dooradoyle; Saturday, March 5, 2016: Cork Constitution 16 Garryowen 14, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v UCD (4th), Lakelands Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LL; UCD: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 7; Tries: Jake Swaine, Conor Finn 1 each; UCD: Points: Tim Foley 13; Tries: Stephen Murphy, Greg Jones, Peadar Timmins, Jamie Glynn 1 each
Preview: Terenure will be doing everything in their power to avoid a third successive league defeat. They can, at least, draw confidence from their season’s double over UCD last term.
Creating more opportunities for wingers Jake Swaine and Sam Coghlan Murray is a must for ‘Nure, with the latter set to line out against some of his former UCD and Leinster ‘A’ team-mates.
The Belfield side closed out a hard-fought victory at Trinity last week, despite being outperformed at set piece time. A better return there should provide the springboard for a winning performance at Lakelands.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 16, 2015: UCD 18 Terenure College 20, Belfield Bowl; Friday, February 19, 2016: Terenure College 13 UCD 0, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v CLONTARF (5th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LW; Clontarf: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 15; Tries: Dan Walsh, Robin Copeland, Rob Guerin 2 each; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 22; Tries: Rob McGrath, Vakh Abdaladze, Tony Ryan, Royce Burke Flynn 1 each
Preview: A high error count in the backs let Clontarf down in their home defeat to St. Mary’s and the reigning champions can ill-afford another sloppy display against in-form Young Munster.
The forwards battle will be worth the admission price alone at Greenfields, as two of the division’s best scrums collide, and Robin Copeland (the scorer of a sublime solo try against Cork Con) and Tony Ryan lead two athletic back row units.
The sides’ corresponding clash in Limerick twelve months ago finished in a 27-all draw. ‘Tarf lost their grip on an eight-point interval lead as Munsters’ big pack grew increasingly influential.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 3, 2015: Young Munster 27 Clontarf 27, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, February 27, 2016: Clontarf 42 Young Munster 25, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win