The curtain comes down on an action-packed 2016 in Ulster Bank League Division 1A as Lansdowne host Young Munster in another mouth-watering top of the table clash and in-form Cork Constitution face student opposition for the second time in a week.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 3
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (7th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (4th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWLLLW; Dublin University: WLWWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 68; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 65; Tries: Colm Hogan 6
Preview: Clontarf arrested their slide with a 21-13 win away to bottom side Terenure College, centre Matt D’Arcy taking his season’s haul to six tries and the recently returned Mick McGrath posing a threat out wide.
They will need the influential duo to be at their best tomorrow as Trinity are looking to bounce back from a disappointing outing against Cork Constitution. Winger Colm Hogan’s sixth try of the campaign was their only real highlight.
The students certainly have the players to cause problems for the defending champions and an away win would cap off a memorable week for DUFC, just a few days after their inspirational director of rugby Tony Smeeth was honoured at the Rugby Writers of Ireland Awards.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v UCD (8th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWW; UCD: LWLLLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 84; Tries: Shane Daly 5; UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 27; Tries: Jamie Glynn 4
Preview: Cork Constitution face student opposition for the second week running, aiming to finish this pre-Christmas block of matches with a sixth straight victory. Their top try scorer, full-back Shane Daly (five tries), is away with the Ireland Sevens squad in Dubai.
Brian Hickey’s side had 20 points to spare over Trinity last Saturday, but UCD return to the scene of last year’s 19-all draw, a game in which Darren Sweetnam and Barry Daly – two players who have impressed lately at provincial level – both touched down.
UCD kept Old Belvedere to just 11 points in last week’s home win and they will need a similarly disciplined display on Leeside to negate the potent left boot of Con’s Tomas Quinlan (84 points).
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 3, 2015: Cork Constitution 19 UCD 19, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 27, 2016: UCD 15 Cork Constitution 58, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
GARRYOWEN (5th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (10th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWLLLWW; Terenure College: LLWLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 63; Tries: David Johnston, Liam Coombes 3 each; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 57; Tries: Jake Swaine, James O’Neill 3 each
Preview: Garryowen’s stubborn defence was a big factor in their 13-11 derby success against high-flying Young Munster, allied to Munster sub-Academy winger Liam Coombes’ ability to sniff out a try from a kick through.
The fifth-placed Light Blues are in limbo slightly, just two points outside of the play-off positions but still just three points ahead of second-from-bottom St. Mary’s.
Garryowen’s predicament pales in comparison to bottom side Terenure who now have a nine-point deficit to make up on Mary’s. One thing ‘Nure will be hoping to take advantage of is the fact that the Limerick men have lost all four home games so far.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 3, 2015: Terenure College 23 Garryowen 22, Lakelands Park; Saturday, February 27, 2016: Garryowen 12 Terenure College 3, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
LANSDOWNE (1st) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLLWWWW; Young Munster: LWWLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 90; Tries: Joe McSwiney, John O’Donnell, Alan Bennie, Daniel McEvoy 3 each; Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 68; Tries: Rob Guerin 4
Preview: Intense competition for places is fuelling Lansdowne’s pursuit of a third league title in five years. A number of young players are pushing their claims, including former St. Michael’s College winger Marc O’Keefe who bagged a brace on his debut against St. Mary’s.
Lansdowne’s regulars are also hitting new heights, out-half Scott Deasy landing eight of his nine kicks at Templeville Road to become the club’s highest all-time scorer in the league.
However, Young Munster will give them arguably their toughest test of the season. The Cookies fell from the summit with that surprise loss to Garryowen and will not lack for motivation after suffering a 29-6 defeat on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch last term.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 12, 2015: Lansdowne 29 Young Munster 6, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, April 16, 2016: Young Munster 22 Lansdowne 3, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
OLD BELVEDERE (6th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLL; St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 54; Tries: Shane McDonald 3; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan, Terry Kennedy, Darren Moroney, Cathal O’Flaherty, Ryan O’Loughlin, David O’Connor 2 each
Preview: Old Belvedere had a taste of leading the league in early October but since then, Paul Cunningham’s men have struggled noticeably with three reversals in four rounds, including last week’s 23-11 loss at nearby Belfield.
‘Belvo, who are without Leinster call-up Charlie Rock, only scored one try in each of their three November matches, whereas St. Mary’s, despite their lowly position of ninth, are finding scores a lot easier to come by with a recent average of 30 points per game.
A victory at Anglesea Road would be a very welcome fillip for Mary’s. They will need big shifts from captain Brian McGovern and the in-form David O’Connor up front, while their injury-hit back-line is missing Ireland Sevens internationals Terry Kennedy and Steve Toal-Lennon.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 27, 2014: Old Belvedere 10 St. Mary’s College 14, Anglesea Road; Saturday, January 10, 2015: St. Mary’s College 13 Old Belvedere 9, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win