Old Belvedere and Terenure College have the honour of kicking off another hotly-anticipated round of Ulster Bank League Division 1A action. Can ‘Belvo, the newly-crowned Leinster Senior League champions, make it two ‘Friday Night Lights’ wins in a row?
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 8
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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OLD BELVEDERE (3rd) v TERENURE COLLEGE (8th), Anglesea Road, Friday, October 7, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLW; Terenure College: LLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 33; Tries: Shane McDonald 3; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 18; Tries: Robert Duke 2
Preview: Two teams that emerged with renewed confidence last week, following their respective home wins over table toppers Lansdowne and highly-rated UCD.
When on their game, Belvedere are an excellent side. Centres John Kennedy and Ben Woods led a destructive defence against Lansdowne, and new flanker Paul Pritchard made a try-scoring impact off the bench.
Robert Duke was another back rower to impress, sniffing out two tries in Terenure’s bonus point defeat of UCD. Despite Daniel Riordan’s absence at full-back, ‘Belvo should have enough to make it three victories in four games.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 11, 2015: Old Belvedere 27 Terenure College 8, Anglesea Road; Saturday, April 16, 2016: Terenure College 36 Old Belvedere 14, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (5th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLW; Young Munster: LWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 34; Tries: Michael Courtney, Colm Hogan 2 each; Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 22; Tries: Dan Walsh, Robin Copeland, Rob Guerin 2 each
Preview: A real benchmark match for Trinity who, having won on the road against Terenure and St. Mary’s, are looking to end the league’s first month with their maiden home win.
To achieve that against Young Munster would be a big statement, especially with the Cookies brimming with confidence after beating both of last season’s finalists. The Limerick men are without Robin Copeland who has made the Munster bench.
Both packs have shone in the three rounds so far, but look out for Colm Hogan and Calvin Nash, two Ireland Under-19 team-mates and Academy starlets from Munster who will oppose each other out wide.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
CLONTARF (7th) v GARRYOWEN (4th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLL; Garryowen: LWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 35; Tries: Rob McGrath, Vakh Abdaladze, Tony Ryan, Royce Burke Flynn, Karl Moran, Rob Keogh 1 each; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 29; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne 2
Preview: Clontarf were left to rue the concession of a late match-winning penalty against Munsters. They have to show their champions’ pedigree and do their utmost to avoid a third straight defeat.
Tomorrow’s Leinster ‘A’ match against Ulster will hamper ‘Tarf’s selection somewhat (as well as centre Conor O’Brien’s continued absence with a foot injury), and visitors Garryowen should benefit from Munster ‘A’ not having a British & Irish Cup warm-up fixture.
The young Light Blues have shown an enviable ability to win tight games, edging past ‘Belvo and Cork Con, with centre Andrew O’Byrne bagging two tries. Winning at the title holders would really push their top four credentials.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 5, 2015: Clontarf 39 Garryowen 25, Castle Avenue; Saturday, January 2, 2016: Garryowen 10 Clontarf 3, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (10th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Temple Hill, 4pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLL; Lansdowne: WWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 18; Tries: Shane Daly 2; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 26; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 2
Preview: Cork Constitution and Lansdowne both come into this one off a three-point defeat, and they will have bottled that hurt for what is annually one of the top flight’s best clashes. The visitors are missing Tom Daly, Peter Dooley and Max Deegan due to Leinster ‘A’ commitments.
Notably, Con were unbeaten against Lansdowne last season, dominating the first half of a 22-all draw at Temple Hill and then winning the rematch 15-13 thanks to Tomas Quinlan’s 10-point salvo.
Lansdowne talisman Scott Deasy will be determined to outshine Quinlan in the kicking stakes as he returns again to his former club. Young Scottish referee Sam Grove-White, one of the new World Sevens Series officials, will have the whistle on Leeside.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 19, 2015: Cork Constitution 22 Lansdowne 22, Temple Hill; Saturday, April 2, 2016: Lansdowne 13 Cork Constitution 15, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
UCD (6th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Belfield Bowl, 4pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWL; St. Mary’s College: WLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Tim Foley 17; Tries: Stephen Murphy, Greg Jones, Peadar Timmins, Jamie Glynn, Jimmy O’Brien, Tom Fletcher, James Ryan, Harry McNulty 1 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 43; Tries: Sean Kearns, Brian McGovern, Paddy O’Driscoll, Ian O’Neill 1 each
Preview: Leinster ‘A’ commitments will unfortunately rob UCD of some important players. The absence of the likes of Jimmy O’Brien, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Andrew Porter, Jeremy Loughman and Peadar Timmins comes at a bad time as the students aim for their first home win.
Andy Skehan’s youngsters, who worked hard for two bonus points at Terenure, will have noted where St. Mary’s were hurt last week by Trinity, a team they themselves had 10 points to spare over.
Both sides have played well in patches so far, but Mary’s will fancy their chances of ending their two-match losing run. Especially if half-backs Paddy O’Driscoll and Sean Kearns (the division’s top scorer with 43 points) can get the best out of the back-line.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 12, 2014: UCD 23 St. Mary’s College 20, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, December 6, 2014: St. Mary’s College 17 UCD 25
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win