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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

The top of the table meeting of fast-starting UL Bohemians and Old Wesley is the headline act in round 3 of Ulster Bank League Division 1B.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BALLYNAHINCH (5th) v SHANNON (9th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: WL; Shannon: LL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Johnny McPhillips 15; Tries: Sam Windsor, Jordan Grattan 2 each; Shannon: Points: Ronan McKenna 19; Tries: Ronan McKenna 1

Preview: Second-from-bottom Shannon make the trip north after a heavy 24-point beating by Buccaneers. Munster ‘A’ back rower Lee Nicholas, who captains from the base of the scrum, will demand a big collective improvement.

Shannon will likely need that and more as Ballynahinch are eager to avoid defeat to Limerick opposition for the second week running. UL Bohemians had ‘Hinch’s number in a high-scoring affair.

Poor passing led to the Co. Down outfit coughing up some soft tries to Bohs, but Ballymacarn Park provides a timely dose of home comfort and they should get straight back to winning ways.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

DOLPHIN (10th) v GALWEGIANS (4th), Irish Independent Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dolphin: LL; Galwegians: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Cillian Monahan 8; Tries: Cameron O’Shaughnessy, Barry Fitzgerald 1 each; Galwegians: Points: Mitch Lam 14; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe, Matthew Byrne, Cormac Brennan, Jack Dinneen, Conor Carey, Aidan Moynihan 1 each

Preview: If Galwegians continue where they left off against UCC, it is hard to see anything other than an away win here. Dolphin are bottom of the table and hoping that their early season injuries can quickly clear.

Tighthead Conor Carey, a try scorer in that 31-14 dismissal of UCC, has been catapulted into the Connacht team for his provincial debut, while the Academy’s Jack Dinneen and Cormac Brennan are also impressing in ‘Wegians blue.

Dolphin’s youngsters are still finding their feet under new head coach David Corkery, but they showed some promising signs against Old Wesley, including an excellent late try from key forward Barry Fitzgerald.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win

NAAS (7th) v BUCCANEERS (6th), Forenaughts

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Naas: WL; Buccaneers: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 11; Tries: Fionn Carr, Henry Bryce, Fionn Higgins 1 each; Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon, Jordan Conroy 10 each; Tries: Jordan Conroy 2

Preview: A first ever league meeting for these clubs. Can Buccaneers build on their excellent 27-3 triumph over Shannon, or will Naas claim their second Connacht scalp in three weeks at Forenaughts?

Fionn Carr, who made a number of appearances for Buccs last season, is the main threat in a lively Naas back-line. He will get close attention from two of his former Connacht team-mates, Shane Layden and Mata Fifita.

Watch out too for the battle between powerful Samoan number 8s Kolo Kiripati, the Buccs captain, and Naas’ Paulie Tolofua, who was an Ulster Bank Division 2A Player of the Year award nominee in 2015/16.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win

UCC (8th) v BALLYMENA (3rd), the Mardyke

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCC: LL; Ballymena: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Kevin O’Keeffe 19; Tries: Conor Barry, Peter McCabe, Cillian Ansbro 1 each; Ballymena: Points: Mark Best 25; Tries: Mark Best 2

Preview: Results have been hard to come by for promoted UCC, who had played well in spells without getting fully rewarded. Having gone 11-0 in front against Galwegians, they ended up losing by 17 points.

Ballymena were worthy winners of their two openers, but are not killing sides off. Against Naas, their back row trio of Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland and man-of-the-match Matthew Rea were especially influential.

Both back-lines will hope for drier conditions this week, with Ulster’s Mark Best looking to add to his two tries so far and Charlie O’Regan, the reigning Division 2A Player of the Year, looking to unleash UCC’s skilful outside backs.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 21, 2012: Ballymena 41 UCC 6, Eaton Park; Saturday, March 29, 2014: UCC 17 Ballymena 9, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win

UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v OLD WESLEY (2nd), University of Limerick 4G pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UL Bohemians: WW; Old Wesley: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Rick McKenna 16; Tries: Jamie McNamara 3; Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 24; Tries: Paul Harte 3

Preview: Few would have predicted that this would be an early season top of the table clash, but UL Bohemians and Old Wesley have shot out of the traps with back-to-back victories.

Bohs are playing some great stuff under their new management, with winger Jamie McNamara – the division’s joint-top try scorer with three in two games – in a really rich vein of form.

Wesley, who had have three touchdowns from their own flying wing Paul Harte, were 33-5 winners when they last visited Bohs a year ago. A much tighter affair is expected tomorrow afternoon.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 12, 2015: UL Bohemians 5 Old Wesley 33, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, April 16, 2016: Old Wesley 23 UL Bohemians 24, Donnybrook

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UL Bohemians to win