Ulster Bank League Division 1A resumes after a long winter break with the second legs of the back-to-back fixtures. Leaders Lansdowne’s trip south to third-placed Young Munster has to be the match of the day.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 28
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (7th) v CLONTARF (5th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWWLWLL; Clontarf: WLLWLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 65; Tries: Colm Hogan 6; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 68; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6
Preview: Dublin University are hoping to release a lot of frustration built up over the winter break following their last two league outings – heavy defeats to Cork Constitution (30-10) and tomorrow’s opponents Clontarf (33-0).
They have slid down to seventh as a result – although the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Garryowen is only two points – and Colm Hogan and Jack Kelly’s Ireland Under-20 call-ups come at a bad time.
However, the students are always tough to beat on their home patch and Clontarf, with six-try centre Matt D’Arcy in sizzling form, know they will have to maintain the high standards of that round 9 game in order to complete the double.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, December 3, 2016: Clontarf 33 Dublin University 0, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (6th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLL; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – 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; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 54; Tries: Shane McDonald 3
Preview: St. Mary’s have three of their young guns in the Ireland U-20 Six Nations squad – Jordan Larmour, Conor Dean and Caelan Doris – all of whom started last month’s 15-0 away defeat to Old Belvedere.
That was Mary’s fourth loss in a row and ominously, ‘Belvo come calling on the back of last week’s excellent 44-14 Bateman Cup semi-final win over Ballynahinch. Out-half Willie Staunton and number 8 David Sherry both wielded a lot of influence in attack.
Notably, Mary’s are winless at home in the league this season and Paul Cunningham’s Belvedere side have already claimed some big scalps on the road in 2016/17 – Young Munster, Lansdowne and Clontarf.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 10, 2015: St. Mary’s College 13 Old Belvedere 9, Templeville Road; Saturday, December 3, 2016: Old Belvedere 15 St. Mary’s College 0, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v GARRYOWEN (4th), Lakelands Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWLLLLLL; Garryowen: LWWLLLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 63; Tries: Jake Swaine, James O’Neill 3 each; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 74; Tries: David Johnston, Liam Coombes, Steven McMahon 3 each
Preview: Conan Doyle’s Garryowen enter the New Year with plenty going for them, lying fourth in the table and chasing their fourth victory on the trot this weekend.
It is the opposite case for bottom side Terenure who are in desperate need of a change in fortunes. They certainly have the talent to arrest their slide, but their defence has been a real weakness of late with an average of 31 points leaked across their last four outings.
The Munster Academy’s Steven McMahon was the star man when these sides met last month, whizzing in for a hat-trick of tries in Garryowen’s 41-26 win. They have to be favoured to make it back-to-back triumphs.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 27, 2016: Garryowen 12 Terenure College 3, Dooradoyle; Saturday, December 3, 2016: Garryowen 41 Terenure College 26, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
UCD (8th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd), Belfield Bowl
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWLLLWLWL; Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 27; Tries: Jamie Glynn, Tommy O’Brien, Tom Fletcher 4 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 104; Tries: Shane Daly 5
Preview: Cork Constitution are scoring for fun of late, showing the benefits of a consistently strong pack, a high quality kicker and some classy finishers out wide. They averaged 40 points in the last two rounds and also demolished Buccaneers 63-0 in a one-sided Bateman Cup semi-final.
UCD will want to quickly banish memories of their 50-25 thrashing on Leeside. Their top try scorers include teenage centre and Ireland Under-20 squad member Tommy O’Brien, who has been a real bright spark for them recently.
However, they could be in for another long afternoon as second-placed Con really have the Indian sign over the students. Brian Hickey’s men were 58-15 winners on their most recent trip to Belfield.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 27, 2016: UCD 15 Cork Constitution 58, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, December 3, 2016: Cork Constitution 50 UCD 25, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLWWWLL; Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Rob Guerin, Jack Harrington 4 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 100; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 4
Preview: This is the tie of the round as Young Munster and table toppers Lansdowne look horns again, just a few weeks on from an eight-try thriller which saw the hosts triumph 30-24 on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.
The exchanges between these two packs are worth the admission fee alone, but both back-lines are also in fine fettle. Look out for Munsters centre Jack Harrington and Lansdowne winger Daniel McEvoy who have scored four tries apiece so far.
Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock said: “Whoever hits the ground running will have the advantage. As a coach, I’ve never won down there (at Tom Clifford Park). We won last time out, but it took a spectacular try (from Marc O’Keefe) to beat them. It was a massively open and physical game.”
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 16, 2016: Young Munster 22 Lansdowne 3, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, December 3, 2016: Lansdowne 30 Young Munster 24, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win