Leaders Lansdowne’s visit to mid-table UCD is the pick of the Friday Night Lights clashes in Division 1A, while two of the top four sides meet on Saturday as Clontarf host Cork Constitution at Castle Avenue.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, February 11
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v OLD BELVEDERE (7th), College Park, Friday, February 10, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLL; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 68; Tries: Colm Hogan 6; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 71; Tries: Shane McDonald 4
Preview: It will be interesting to see what impact Eddie O’Sullivan can make following last week’s announcement that the former Ireland boss will assist the Old Belvedere coaches for the rest of the season.
Belvedere could certainly do with a lift after a couple of disappointing defeats to St. Mary’s and UCD. They face student opposition again in the form of Trinity who are scrapping to avoid a fifth straight loss.
Tony Smeeth’s young guns need to cut down on the errors and start finishing their chances again. Easier said than done, but a floodlit College Park and a vocal home crowd should give them plenty of inspiration.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, November 12, 2016: Old Belvedere 7 Dublin University 27, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
UCD (5th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Belfield Bowl, Friday, February 10, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWLLLWLWLWW; Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 27; Tries: Tom Fletcher 5; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 118; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 6
Preview: Both UCD and Lansdowne have won three of their last four games, but it is the headquarters club who are really catching the eye. Centre Mark Roche starred in the league leaders’ 43-20 bonus point dismissal of St. Mary’s, running in a superb 40-metre solo try.
However, Lansdowne did give away 14 penalties that afternoon and leaked two late tries. That will show UCD that they can live with them if they keep their own discipline and stay in touch on the scoreboard.
Set piece dominance was a key factor in Lansdowne’s 35-point November victory over UCD who were comprehensively outscored by six tries to one. It is an area the visitors are sure to target again.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 30, 2016: Lansdowne 22 UCD 20, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, November 11, 2016: Lansdowne 45 UCD 10, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th) v GARRYOWEN (6th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWL; Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan, Ryan O’Loughlin 3 each; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 94; Tries: David Johnston, Liam Coombes, Steven McMahon, Andrew O’Byrne, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham 3 each
Preview: Precious league points and the Shay Deering Memorial trophy will be on the line here as St. Mary’s and Garryowen both look to recover from heavy round 11 losses.
Mary’s found it hard going at Lansdowne, an early injury to flanker Kevin Sheahan not helping, but they did win the final quarter 14-0 and busy winger Ryan O’Loughlin is now up to three tries for the campaign.
Despite captain Neil Cronin’s best efforts away to Young Munster, Garryowen are still winless in 2017 and with just three points separating them from ninth-placed Mary’s, they cannot afford to fall short in the capital.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 25, 2015 – Relegation/Promotion Play-Off: St. Mary’s College 3 Garryowen 13, Templeville Road; Saturday, November 12, 2016: Garryowen 43 St. Mary’s College 38, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v TERENURE COLLEGE (10th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWW; Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Rob Guerin, Jack Harrington 4 each; Terenure College: Points: Jack Swaine 63; Tries: Marc Hiney 4
Preview: The Young Munster juggernaut rolls on following a very impressive 22-point second half against Garryowen. Still, they will be wary of a Terenure team that upset defending champions Clontarf.
This week Munsters are without Dan Goggin and Abriel Griesel, who are on the Munster bench, and talented young winger Calvin Nash leads a Cookies quartet in the Ireland U-20 squad in Italy.
‘Nure’s last two meetings with the Limerick club have resulted in eight-point reversals so, given their recent form, James Blaney’s men will be quietly confident of at least getting into bonus point range.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 9, 2016: Young Munster 14 Terenure College 6, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, November 12, 2016: Terenure College 23 Young Munster 31, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
CLONTARF (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Castle Avenue, 4.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWL; Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 83; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 116; Tries: Shane Daly 5
Preview: Another chance for last year’s Division 1A finalists to go toe to toe. Cork Con claimed a 24-17 verdict at home in November, rattling off 10 points without reply in the second half.
Constitution have already won three times in the capital this season and their captain Niall Kenneally is regularly popping up with tries – he scored his fourth against Trinity last week.
Four losses in seven outings show that title holders Clontarf are blowing hot and cold. They were frustrated into submission by Terenure last time out and must make more of Mick McGrath’s attacking threat out wide.
Recent League Meetings – Sunday, May 8, 2016 – Final: Clontarf 28 Cork Constitution 25, Aviva Stadium; Saturday, November 12, 2016: Cork Constitution 24 Clontarf 17, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win