Division 1A’s top two clubs and the bottom two are all hoping to make the most of home advantage on Saturday. Having found their groove again with three wins on the trot, bottom side Terenure’s clash with third-placed Cork Constitution could be the match of the day.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, February 18
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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GARRYOWEN (8th) v UCD (7th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLLL; UCD: LWLLLWLWLWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 96; Tries: Liam Coombes 4; UCD: Points: Tom Fletcher 30; Tries: Tom Fletcher 6
Preview: With three defeats on the bounce, Garryowen desperately need a victory to settle back down. Scrum issues were apparent again at St. Mary’s where their pack were outmuscled and outplayed.
UCD were very much second best when going down 45-8 to Lansdowne, winger Tom Fletcher’s sixth try of the campaign their lone riposte to the leaders’ dominance which was also evident at scrum time.
The students have lost Harry McNulty and Hugo Keenan to Ireland Sevens duty this weekend, which also rules out Garryowen starlet Steven McMahon. The Light Blues will look to half-backs Bill Johnston and Neil Cronin to provide some match-winning momentum.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 9, 2016: UCD 45 Garryowen 19, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, November 5, 2016: UCD 23 Garryowen 16, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win
LANSDOWNE (1st) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLWW; Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 127; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 9; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 82; Tries: Colm Hogan 6
Preview: Armed with an enhanced six-point advantage at the summit, Lansdowne are heavy favourites to win their first ever home league match against Dublin University.
They served up a 45-8 beating to the top flight’s other student team UCD last week, their superior scrum setting the tone, the back row in brilliant collective form and winger Daniel McEvoy’s hat-trick taking his season’s tally to nine tries.
Trinity were 11-point losers when these sides met in November, but showed their resilience when overcoming Old Belvedere last week for their first win in five rounds. They will need big performances from out-half Jack McDermott and flanker Brian du Toit again in order to trouble the table toppers.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, November 5, 2016: Dublin University 14 Lansdowne 25, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
OLD BELVEDERE (9th) v CLONTARF (4th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLLL; Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 71; Tries: Shane McDonald 4; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 93; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6
Preview: There was no respite for Old Belvedere when going down to Trinity in their third straight defeat. Paul Cunningham and the newly-arrived Eddie O’Sullivan have a lot of work to do, with ‘Belvo now in the bottom two.
Their indiscipline was ruthlessly punished by Trinity for 12 crucial points, and with tomorrow’s visitors Clontarf currently on course for the semi-finals, they will have to be squeaky clean within range of the posts.
‘Tarf were back near their best when defeating Cork Constitution 22-13 in muddy conditions, try scorer Mick McGrath and the recently returned Jason Harris-Wright hitting form just as the title race gathers pace.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, April 1, 2016: Old Belvedere 21 Clontarf 27, Anglesea Road; Friday, November 4, 2016: Clontarf 13 Old Belvedere 20, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Lakelands Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWWW; Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 63; Tries: Marc Hiney 4; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 119; Tries: Shane Daly 5
Preview: Things seem to be finally clicking for Terenure who have cut the deficit at the foot of the table to a single point. Having won away to Clontarf and Young Munster, ‘Nure will fear nobody during the season’s run-in.
Scoring four tries at Munsters is a hugely impressive feat and the spine of the side looked much improved, with the likes of Sam Coghlan Murray, Conor Finn, Oisin Heffernan and Harrison Brewer all contributing handsomely.
Cork Con succumbed to Clontarf’s reinforced defence last Saturday but they have the firepower to bounce straight back. Look out for bruising lock Conor Kindregan, the reigning Division 1A Player of the Year, who is chasing his fifth try of the season.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 26, 2016: Cork Constitution 35 Terenure College 17, Temple Hill; Saturday, November 5, 2016: Cork Constitution 31 Terenure College 15, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWWL; St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Rob Guerin, Jack Harrington 4 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan, Ryan O’Loughlin, Darren Moroney 3 each
Preview: Young Munster are entering a key period of their season, looking to steady themselves after a rare home defeat last Saturday and build for next week’s Munster Senior Cup final against Cork Con.
St. Mary’s pitch up looking to repeat what Terenure achieved at Greenfields and they will definitely need another big shift from second row Ciaran Ruddock, one of the leading forwards in the top flight and their man-of-the-match against Garryowen.
Leinster’s Cathal Marsh played a pivotal role in that game, kicking 12 points and setting up a try. If he is available again, his out-half duel with Cookies youngster Alan Tynan will be intriguing to watch.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 28, 2015: Young Munster 18 St. Mary’s College 13, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, November 5, 2016: St. Mary’s College 32 Young Munster 24, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win