Four mouth-watering Dublin derbies and a super-charged all-Munster tie make up the fixtures in Ulster Bank League Division 1A tomorrow. The meeting of Clontarf and Young Munster at Castle Avenue could be the match of the day.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 25
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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UCD (5th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (9th), Belfield Bowl, 2pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWLLLWLWLWWLLWW; Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWWWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Matthew Gilsenan 49; Tries: Tom Fletcher 6; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 75; Tries: Marc Hiney, Eoin Joyce 4 each
Preview: UCD are really benefiting from the absence of Leinster ‘A’ from the British & Irish Cup’s knockout stages, with the likes of Peadar Timmins, Andrew Porter and Nick McCarthy aiding their end-of-season push.
The students have nine points to make up on fourth-placed Young Munster with three rounds remaining, but they have some decent momentum. Captain Jamie Glynn and Andy Marks bagged their fifth tries of the campaign in the bonus point win at St. Mary’s two weeks ago.
Terenure’s recent 24-20 victory over Old Belvedere has given them a real chance of climbing out of the bottom two. Number 8 Eoin Joyce has emerged as a regular try scorer, touching down three times in the last five rounds.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, February 19, 2016: Terenure College 13 UCD 0, Lakelands Park; Saturday, October 1, 2016: Terenure College 31 UCD 24, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win
CLONTARF (2nd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (4th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWLWWWW; Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWWLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 97; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 8; Young Munster: Points: Alan Tynan 73; Tries: Cian Bohane, Rob Guerin 5 each
Preview: Clontarf are really hitting their straps as the play-offs come into view. 29 second half points saw the north Dubliners sweep Garryowen aside and move into second place in the table.
The team they replaced, Young Munster, are their visitors in round 16. The Cookies slid from second to fourth on the back of a 15-12 defeat to Dublin University and are struggling for form at the wrong time of the season.
Defending champions ‘Tarf will have revenge on their minds after losing 20-18 at Greenfields in October. Out-halves David Joyce and Alan Tynan could be called upon to decide what is expected to be a tight contest.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 27, 2016: Clontarf 42 Young Munster 25, Castle Avenue; Saturday, October 1, 2016: Young Munster 20 Clontarf 18, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v GARRYOWEN (8th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLWLWWW; Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 146; Tries: Shane Daly 5; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 116; Tries: Liam Coombes 4
Preview: A Munster derby with consequences at both ends of the table. Three successive victories have Cork Constitution in third overall and pressing for a home semi-final berth.
Five losses in six games have plunged Garryowen into relegation trouble, their second half collapse at home to Clontarf being particularly worrying. They will need a big performance from their pack tomorrow.
Constitution’s excellent defensive stand late on against Lansdowne showed how hard they are to break down, and you would have to back them to reverse October’s 16-13 defeat to the Light Blues.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 5, 2016: Cork Constitution 16 Garryowen 14, Temple Hill; Saturday, October 1, 2016: Garryowen 16 Cork Constitution 13, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLLWLWW; St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWLWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 91; Tries: Colm Hogan 6; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan 5
Preview: Sixth-placed Dublin University come into this game on a real high after winning away to Young Munster, beating Oxford University 31-20 in a challenge match and having three representatives in the Ireland Club International squad.
Their latest opponents, St. Mary’s, had some bad luck in their recent 32-18 loss to UCD. Despite a try-scoring man-of-the-match performance from loosehead Tom O’Reilly, they really missed the influence of out-half Dave Fanagan who went off injured early on.
Trinity director of rugby Tony Smeeth said: “We’ve had a tremendous rivalry with St. Mary’s over the past two seasons, with both of us winning close games. If they are all fit to play, Mary’s could field as many as an incredible seven ex-Trinity players including our last two captains in Nick McCarthy and Paddy Lavelle.”
Recent League Meetings – Friday, April 1, 2016: St. Mary’s College 9 Dublin University 5, Templeville Road; Friday, September 30, 2016: St. Mary’s College 19 Dublin University 31, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
OLD BELVEDERE (10th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLLLLLL; Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLWWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 79; Tries: Shane McDonald, Daniel Riordan 4 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 155; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 10
Preview: The chasing pack have been chipping away at Lansdowne’s lead and now it stands at just four points. So, Mike Ruddock will be demanding a big response here after back-to-back defeats.
The headquarters club, for whom Scott Deasy remains the division’s top scorer (155 points), also lost 16-13 to Old Belvedere in late September, with Deasy’s opposite number Willie Staunton kicking 11 points that night.
‘Belvo are in serious relegation trouble now, however, and with their scrum looking vulnerable against Terenure a fortnight ago, Lansdowne’s pack are poised to take advantage and get the leaders back on track.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 20, 2016: Lansdowne 15 Old Belvedere 26, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, September 30, 2016: Lansdowne 13 Old Belvedere 16, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win