On a huge weekend for Irish Rugby at club, provincial and international level, regular Dublin rivals Clontarf and Old Belvedere will kick things off in Ulster Bank League Division 1A with what is sure to be a fiery ‘Friday Night Lights’ clash.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (7th) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), Castle Avenue, Friday, November 4, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWL; Old Belvedere: WLWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 57; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 51; Tries: Shane McDonald 3
Preview: Three defeats in four matches have Clontarf down in seventh spot, although they are only five points off the summit. Despite being outlasted by Lansdowne last week, there was much to admire in ‘Tarf’s performance with centre Matt D’Arcy crossing for his second and third tries of the campaign.
The defending champions entertain Old Belvedere tonight, the sides’ first league clash since the north Dubliners won 27-21 at Anglesea Road in April when current Ireland squad member Joey Carbery kicked seven points.
Belvedere fell from first to fourth place last Saturday, a late penalty try earning them a losing bonus point against Cork Constitution. Returning centre Steve Crosbie could be an important figure for ‘Belvo as they face into four Dublin derbies before Christmas.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 18, 2015: Clontarf 20 Old Belvedere 14, Castle Avenue; Friday, April 1, 2016: Old Belvedere 21 Clontarf 27, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (10th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLLWW; Terenure College: LLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 49; Tries: Shane Daly 3; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 36; Tries: Jake Swaine, James O’Neill 3 each
Preview: Two clubs who seem to be going in opposite directions, Cork Constitution on the rise after a brace of momentum-building wins and bottom-placed Terenure losing two tight games back-to-back.
Tomas Quinlan’s left boot was hugely influential in Con’s dismissals of Lansdowne and Belvedere, registering 16 and 15 points respectively. The Munster Academy trio of Shane Daly, Liam O’Connor and Rory Burke have also impressed.
Two late reversals for ‘Nure against ‘Belvo and neighbours St. Mary’s were tough to take. James Blaney’s men are playing well enough to be further up the league’s ladder, with sniping scrum half Kevin O’Neill hitting good form.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 2, 2016: Terenure College 22 Cork Constitution 32, Lakelands Park; Saturday, March 26, 2016: Cork Constitution 35 Terenure College 17, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (1st) v LANSDOWNE (3rd), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWW; Lansdowne: WWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 56; Tries: Colm Hogan 4; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 42; Tries: Joe McSwiney 3
Preview: Few would have thought Dublin University would be the Division 1A leaders almost a third of the way into the season. But Tony Smeeth’s young guns are deservedly top of the pile, a point clear of tomorrow’s visitors Lansdowne.
The students recovered brilliantly from an early 14-point deficit to hit Garryowen with 27 unanswered points last week, winger Colm Hogan running in his fourth league try and out-half Jack McDermott topping up his season’s haul to 56 points.
McDermott’s duel with Lansdowne number 10 Scott Deasy, who led well against Clontarf, should be an intriguing one, as will the scrap between two packs with strong set piece structures.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (6th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Sr. Mary’s College: LWLWW; Young Munster: LWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – 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, David Fanagan, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Larmour 1 each; Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 41; Tries: Dan Walsh, Robin Copeland, Rob Guerin, Jack Harrington, Alan Kennedy 2 each
Preview: There is an extra pep in St. Mary’s step this week after overcoming local rivals Terenure, their blistering back-three of David Fanagan, Terry Kennedy and man-of-the-match Jordan Larmour all contributing tries in a 17-13 victory.
Young Munster are four places and four points better off than Mary’s, so this is a key fixture for two ambitious clubs. The scrum battle should be ferocious, with respective captains Brian McGovern and Ger Slattery right at the heart of it.
Looking at the table, Munsters are the division’s top points scorers at present with Mary’s having one of the best defences, so this game really could go either way.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 15, 2014: St. Mary’s College 21 Young Munster 15, Templeville Road; Saturday, March 28, 2015: Young Munster 18 St. Mary’s College 13, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
UCD (8th) v GARRYOWEN (9th), Belfield Bowl
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWLLL; Garryowen: LWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Tim Foley 17; Tries: Tom Fletcher 3; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 37; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne 2
Preview: A second successive clash with a student side for Garryowen who were well-beaten by Trinity in round 5. It will be interesting to see if Munster’s returning centre Sam Arnold starts for the Light Blues after his cameo off the bench a week ago.
18-year-old centre Tommy O’Brien made a very good impression on his league debut for UCD last week, scoring a try in their 37-31 loss at Young Munster which earned them two bonus points.
UCD have been playing well without getting results, and it has been a similar story for Conan Doyle’s Garryowen, who will be determined to banish memories of last January’s 45-19 hammering at Belfield.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 28, 2015: Garryowen 6 UCD 13, Dooradoyle; Saturday, January 9, 2016: UCD 45 Garryowen 19, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win