A repeat of the 2015 final gets us underway in round 5 of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, as Lansdowne entertain Clontarf on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch. Saturday’s fare will be just as compelling, especially the eagerly-awaited Dublin 6W derby at Lakelands.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 29
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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LANSDOWNE (4th) v CLONTARF (5th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Friday, October 28, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLL; Clontarf: WLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 34; Tries: Daniel McEvoy, Joe McSwiney 2 each; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 46; Tries: Rob McGrath, Vakh Abdaladze, Tony Ryan, Royce Burke Flynn, Karl Moran, Rob Keogh, Matt D’Arcy 1 each
Preview: A crunch fixture for these sides. The last two title winners have both stuttered in recent weeks, Lansdowne losing two on the bounce and Clontarf slipping to two defeats in three games.
As well as tighthead and captain Ian Prendiville returning from illness, Lansdowne should have some of their Leinster ‘A’ contingent back. They definitely need to rediscover their scoring touch from the earlier rounds.
Buoyed by Joey Carbery’s Ireland call-up, Clontarf make the trip across the Liffey after ending a two-match losing streak against Garryowen. They drew the corresponding game last season and are actually chasing their first win over Lansdowne in seven league meetings, stretching back to April 2014.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 28, 2015: Lansdowne 23 Clontarf 23, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, January 9, 2016: Clontarf 18 Lansdowne 19, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
GARRYOWEN (6th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWL; Dublin University: WLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 33; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne 2; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 44; Tries: Michael Courtney, Colm Hogan 3 each
Preview: Munster centre Sam Arnold is set to play 40 minutes for Garryowen tomorrow, his first bit of game-time at any level since injuring his knee in pre-season training.
Arnold and the Light Blues’ back-line will certainly be tested by attack-minded Trinity who are looking for another Limerick scalp after an excellent 32-27 victory over Young Munster last time out.
The students thumped Cambridge University 50-0 last week, with winger Evan Dixon and lock Pierce Dargan bagging a hat-trick each. It was a real ‘team-building’ trip according to director of rugby Tony Smeeth who said ‘the intensity and tempo of playing in Division 1A has definitely been good for us.’
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 1, 2014: Garryowen 8 Dublin University 14, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 21, 2015: Dublin University 23 Garryowen 24, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
OLD BELVEDERE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (7th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWW; Cork Constitution: WLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 51; Tries: Shane McDonald 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 34; Tries: Shane Daly 3
Preview: With Cork Constitution looking in resurgent form, this is real test of Old Belvedere’s potential to be title challengers. ‘Belvo’s biggest winning margin so far has been three points, but that has been enough to send them top of the table.
Out-half Willie Staunton has contributed 51 of their 81 points, making him the division’s top scorer. He nailed six penalties last time out to edge out Terenure College.
Cork Con, who were two-point losers on their last visit to Anglesea Road, returned to winning ways with an 18-point dismissal of Lansdowne. Promising full-back Shane Daly scored a try that day and also crossed during last week’s 57-10 Munster Senior Cup quarter-final trouncing of Nenagh.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 28, 2015: Old Belvedere 19 Cork Constitution 17, Anglesea Road; Saturday, January 9, 2016: Cork Constitution 32 Old Belvedere 0, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd) v UCD (9th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWL; UCD: LWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 27; Tries: Dan Walsh, Robin Copeland, Rob Guerin 2 each; UCD: Points: Tim Foley 17; Tries: Stephen Murphy, Greg Jones, Peadar Timmins, Jamie Glynn, Jimmy O’Brien, Tom Fletcher, James Ryan, Harry McNulty, Andy Marks 1 each
Preview: Young Munster face student opposition for the second successive round, but three of their top performers this season – Abrie Griesel, Robin Copeland and Dan Goggin – are on the Munster bench tonight.
The Cookies were stung by a late try away to Trinity, going down 32-27, and return to their Greenfields stronghold where they have won eight of their last nine Division 1A games.
After three successive weeks of Leinster ‘A’ fixtures, UCD boss Andy Skehan will have a reinforced squad to pick from as ‘College aim for their first win in three outings. They were understandably proud of new Ireland call-ups Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose and James Tracy who, not too long ago, were lining out at Belfield.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 26, 2015: UCD 56 Young Munster 22, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, March 5, 2016: Young Munster 28 UCD 13, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Lakelands Park, 3pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWL; St. Mary’s College: LWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 28; Tries: Jake Swaine 3; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: Sean Kearns, Brian McGovern, Paddy O’Driscoll, Ian O’Neill, Mark Fogarty, Kevin Sheahan, Cathal O’Flaherty 1 each
Preview: The kick-off has been pushed back to accommodate what is always a bumper crowd for this Dublin 6W derby. Terenure did the double on St. Mary’s in their most recent league meetings (2014/15), a season in which they reached the semi-finals.
Neither team have looked like last-four material so far in the current campaign, although Mary’s two wins and a losing bonus point have them two positions better off than bottom-placed ‘Nure.
As ever, the local bragging rights may hinge on the place-kicking prowess of Terenure’s top scorer Jake Swaine (28 points) and Mary’s out-half Sean Kearns, who has accumulated 47 of their 77 points to date and struck up a good partnership with new number 9 Paddy O’Driscoll.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 20, 2014: St. Mary’s College 14 Terenure College 20, Templeville Road; Saturday, March 7, 2015: Terenure College 41 St. Mary’s College 24, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win