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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

On the home front this weekend, the Saturday afternoon schedule is clear for a feast of Ulster Bank League Division 1A action. There are two massive clashes at opposite ends of the table – Lansdowne v Cork Constitution and Terenure College v Old Belvedere.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 11

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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GARRYOWEN (8th) v CLONTARF (4th), Dooradoyle

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLLLWL; Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 111; Tries: Liam Coombes 4; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 97; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7

Preview: Clontarf’s 12-3 defeat of current leaders Lansdowne last week was a real statement of intent, the result seeing them draw within two points of a home semi-final berth.

They have five players included in the Ireland Club International squad to play England Counties next Friday, with Garryowen represented by their top-scoring captain Neil Cronin (111 points) and Andrew O’Byrne.

It is vital that the Light Blues get back to winning ways after a poor day out against Dublin University. They are just five points above the relegation zone and really need to steady the ship at home.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 2, 2016: Garryowen 10 Clontarf 3, Dooradoyle; Saturday, October 8, 2016: Clontarf 16 Garryowen 14, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

LANSDOWNE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLWWWL; Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 145; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 10; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 136; Tries: Shane Daly 5

Preview: The big matches keep coming for table toppers Lansdowne. They fell at Castle Avenue in round 14, but a dose of home comfort should help them recover against third-placed Cork Constitution.

The division’s two top scorers are set to go head to head, with Lansdowne out-half Scott Deasy and his Cork Con counterpart Tomas Quinlan scoring 281 points between them so far. Watch out too for Con lock Brian Hayes who has touched down twice in the last two games.

The life and career of the great Moss Keane, who played with Lansdowne for a number of years, will be celebrated on the day. His daughters and brothers will receive a special commemorative presentation at the pre-match lunch.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 2, 2016: Lansdowne 13 Cork Constitution 15, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, October 8, 2016: Cork Constitution 31 Lansdowne 13, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th) v UCD (6th), Templeville Road

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWLWLW; UCD: LWLLLWLWLWWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan 5; UCD: Points: Matthew Gilsenan 37; Tries: Tom Fletcher 6

Preview: St. Mary’s and UCD have almost identical records in mid-table, lying fifth and sixth respectively with six wins, eight losses and seven bonus points each. Only scoring difference has Jamie Cornett’s men ahead.

Leinster forwards Ian Nagle and Andrew Porter both scored tries last week in winning performances for Mary’s and the students, although club talents David Fanagan (with his fifth try of the season) and Matthew Gilsenan (five penalties) were even more influential.

Mary’s are chasing a season’s double and a repeat of October’s three-try 19-13 success would keep alive their slim hopes of catching fourth-placed Clontarf – the gap is 11 points at present.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 6, 2014: St. Mary’s College 17 UCD 25, Templeville Road; Saturday, October 8, 2016: UCD 13 St. Mary’s College 19, Belfield Bowl

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

TERENURE COLLEGE (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (10th), Lakelands Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWWWLL; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 66; Tries: Marc Hiney 4; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 79; Tries: Shane McDonald 4

Preview: With just four rounds remaining, close rivals Terenure College and Old Belvedere are running out of opportunities to move out of the relegation zone. They are locked together on 24 points each.

Terenure look better placed to at least avoid automatic relegation, they battled back for a losing bonus point against neighbours St. Mary’s and were very close to beating Cork Con in their last home game.

Belvedere have lost their last five encounters, slipping from sixth to tenth in the table. But they will draw heart from October’s 18-15 triumph over ‘Nure when match winner Willie Staunton booted six penalties.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 16, 2016: Terenure College 36 Old Belvedere 14, Lakelands Park; Friday, October 7, 2016: Old Belvedere 18 Terenure College 15, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (7th), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWWLWL; Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Rob Keogh 97; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7; Dublin University: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Cian Bohane, Rob Guerin 5 each

Preview: With two losses in three games, Young Munster have lost some momentum in their pursuit of a home semi-final. Cork Con and Clontarf are really nipping at their heels now.

They undoubtedly miss centres Dan Goggin and Cian Bohane and together with Abrie Griesel, the trio are on Munster ‘A’ duty this weekend. Trinity will be hoping to take advantage of their absence, as they look to follow up on their 19-3 home win over Garryowen.

The selection of Michael Courtney, Eric O’Sullivan and Paddy Finlay for Ireland Club International honours is deserved recognition for the students’ top flight exploits. Director of rugby Tony Smeeth said: “Tom Clifford Park is the toughest place to win in the league, all our XV guys need to stand up. For us to win it will be a 20-man job. We need to be firing on all cylinders to get the right result.”

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, October 8, 2016: Dublin University 32 Young Munster 27, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win