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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Defending champions Clontarf are hoping to bring Division 1A leaders Lansdowne down a peg at Castle Avenue tonight, while valuable points at opposite ends of the table will be on the line when Cork Constitution and Old Belvedere meet in a prequel of the Bateman Cup final.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 4

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (4th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Castle Avenue, Friday, March 3, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWLWW; Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 97; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 142; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 10

Preview: If they maintain their current positions of fourth and first respectively, Clontarf will be travelling to Lansdowne in the Division 1A semi-finals in the latter part of April.

Mike Ruddock’s table toppers have held the edge over ‘Tarf in recent meetings, including October’s 33-31 thriller at headquarters, and their free-scoring winger Daniel McEvoy will be itching to add to his 10-try tally.

However, Clontarf are hitting very good form following wins over Cork Constitution and Old Belvedere. Given the expected wet conditions, the battle between hookers Jason Harris-Wright and James Rael in the scrum and lineout could be crucial to the outcome.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 9, 2016: Clontarf 18 Lansdowne 19, Castle Avenue; Friday, October 28, 2016: Lansdowne 33 Clontarf 31, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v OLD BELVEDERE (10th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLWLW; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 130; Tries: Shane Daly 5; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 79; Tries: Shane McDonald 4

Preview: These sides will meet in April’s Bateman Cup final but of more pressing concern for Old Belvedere is their top flight safety. They are now bottom of the table after four straight defeats.

Winning down at Temple Hill is a very tough task, especially as Cork Constitution are pressing for a home semi-final and are buoyed by last Sunday’s Munster Senior Cup final success.

Con have a five-day turnaround to negotiate as well as an injury list which includes Munster Academy prop Rory Burke (ankle). Their captain Niall Kenneally said: “One of our goals this season is to reach the play-offs. There’s a lot of heat coming from behind – one or two wins for other teams and it could be a real scrap. There’s a long way to go and we’ve unfinished business from last year.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 9, 2016: Cork Constitution 32 Old Belvedere 0, Temple Hill; Saturday, October 29, 2016: Old Belvedere 14 Cork Constitution 20, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), College Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLLWL; Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 85; Tries: Colm Hogan 6; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 108; Tries: Liam Coombes 4

Preview: Dublin University, who have centre Seb Fromm returning from injury, will look to put a 42-point hammering by Lansdowne behind them when hosting a Garryowen side who still have top four ambitions.

Any Trinity mistakes were ruthlessly punished by the league leaders. They really need to rediscover their scoring touch, with director of rugby Tony Smeeth saying: “It takes a while to groom a good back-line, but we will get there as our intent is good. The boys are training hard. We have the athletes no doubt.”

Garryowen are chasing a student double after edging out UCD 17-16 last time out. They are back up to fifth spot but they are walking a tightrope with eighth-placed Trinity just three points behind them. 

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 21, 2015: Dublin University 23 Garryowen 24, College Park; Saturday, October 29, 2016: Garryowen 14 Dublin University 27, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (6th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (9th), Templeville Road, 3.15pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWLWL; Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan, Ryan O’Loughlin 4 each; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 63; Tries: Marc Hiney 4

Preview: St. Mary’s are looking to do the double on neighbours Terenure in this much-anticipated local derby. Current Ireland Under-20 starlet Jordan Larmour was a try scorer in their 17-13 win at Lakelands in October.

Mary’s will be wary of a ‘Nure team that has strung together three recent victories and also given Cork Con a serious scrap last time out. Only three places and four points separate the Dublin 6W rivals in the table.

Claiming the match points here would be a big step towards safety for either side. If Leinster out-half Cathal Marsh starts again, he could steer the contest in Mary’s favour.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 7, 2015: Terenure College 41 St. Mary’s College 24, Lakelands Park; Saturday, October 29, 2016: Terenure College 13 St. Mary’s College 17, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win

UCD (7th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Belfield Bowl

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWLLLWLWLWWLL; Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Tom Fletcher 30; Tries: Tom Fletcher 6; Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Cian Bohane 5

Preview: The matches are coming thick and fast for Young Munster who, having lost the Munster Senior Cup decider, must rally quickly for this important league trip to Belfield.

The Cookies cannot afford any slip ups with Cork Con and Clontarf still both in the running for that second home semi-final spot. Munster centre Cian Bohane’s brace against St. Mary’s took his season’s haul to five tries.

Back-to-back defeats have drawn UCD into relegation trouble. They are only four points off the bottom, so a home win is vital here with four Dublin derbies to come for Andy Skehan’s charges in the closing rounds.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 5, 2016: Young Munster 28 UCD 13, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, October 29, 2016: Young Munster 37 UCD 31, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win