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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

The finishing order of the top four in Ulster Bank League Division 1A will be sorted out come shortly after 4pm tomorrow, while there is a huge amount riding on the result of Dublin University v Terenure College as both sides look to avoid the relegation play-off spot.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 15

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (2nd) v UCD (5th), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWLWWWWLW; UCD: LWLLLWLWLWWLLWWDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 99; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 8; UCD: Points: Matthew Gilsenan 52; Tries: Tom Fletcher, Tommy O’Brien 6 each

Preview: Clontarf ended the 2015/16 regular season with a home win over UCD and went on to be crowned league champions. Can they repeat that feat as the title race enters the final straight?

Of the top four, ‘Tarf are showing the most consistency of late. They outscored St. Mary’s by five tries to two in the last round, with four of those scores coming from their well-oiled back-line.

Fresh from their Colours match win, UCD are safely tucked away in mid-table. They would love to claim the scalp of ‘Tarf and boast plenty of attacking threats themselves, especially Ireland Under-20 starlet Tommy O’Brien who now has six league tries to his name.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 23, 2016: Semi-final: Clontarf 24 UCD 10, Castle Avenue; Saturday, September 17, 2016: UCD 20 Clontarf 22, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (6th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLWLWWWWL; St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWLWLWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 162; Tries: Shane Daly, Conor Kindregan 5 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 49; Tries: David Fanagan 5

Preview: There is plenty on the line for both sides tomorrow afternoon as fourth-placed Cork Constitution continue to push for a home semi-final, while St. Mary’s are only one point above the relegation play-off spot.

The Dubliners are delicately perched in sixth, with three teams nipping at their heels, but even if they lose on Leeside, it looks like Garryowen or the losers of Dublin University v Terenure College could finish below them.

Constitution had a frustrating afternoon at Young Munster, going down 3-0 with a number of try-scoring chances, including a Niall Kenneally break, not converted. They need to get back to winning ways here ahead of a crucial period in the season, which also includes a Bateman Cup final trip to Old Belvedere.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 31, 2015: Cork Constitution 13 St. Mary’s College 15, Temple Hill; Saturday, September 17, 2016: St. Mary’s College 16 Cork Constitution 20, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (7th), College Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLLWLWWLL; Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWWWLLWDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 91; Tries: Colm Hogan 7; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 94; Tries: Marc Hiney, Eoin Joyce, Jake Swaine 4 each

Preview: It will be a final day dog-fight to avoid the relegation play-off spot which still looms over four teams. Terenure’s tremendous 36-17 win over leaders Lansdowne has drawn them level on 35 points with Dublin University.

Trinity lost last week’s Colours clash and have slipped to second-from-bottom. Their director of rugby Tony Smeeth is expecting ‘a cracker of a game for the neutral’. “Watching Terenure against Lansdowne, they really do try to play a high-tempo running style backed up with massive physicality at the breakdown, traits we bring to our game at every opportunity,” he said.

Rowan Osborne is set to fill in at scrum half for the students’ captain Brian Slater, with Cian O’Dwyer and Ross Todd also introduced up front. It will be interesting to see if Terenure start teenage centre Ted O’Donoghue again after his try-scoring debut last week. 

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 15, 2014: Terenure College 22 Dublin University 17, Lakelands Park; Friday, September 16, 2016: Terenure College 18 Dublin University 25, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

LANSDOWNE (1st) v GARRYOWEN (8th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLWWWLLDL; Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLLLWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 155; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 10; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 132; Tries: Liam Coombes 6

Preview: Without a win in four rounds, Lansdowne are in danger of missing out on home advantage in the semi-finals unless they belatedly pick up their form. Relegation-threatened Garryowen are their final round visitors.

Fergal Cleary was an able deputy for Scott Deasy at out-half last week, but the table toppers were just overrun by a terrier-like Terenure team. Lansdowne have arguably the best scrummaging unit in the division and that is an area they can certainly hurt the Light Blues in.

Garryowen’s dramatic victory over Old Belvedere, which confirmed the latter’s relegation showcased their backs’ try-scoring ability. Two of their scorers from that game, top scorer Liam Coombes (six tries) and Munster’s Alex Wootton, will definitely need to be well marshalled by the home defence.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 6, 2016: Garryowen 16 Lansdowne 16, Dooradoyle; Saturday, September 17, 2016: Garryowen 25 Lansdowne 32, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

OLD BELVEDERE (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), Anglesea Road

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLLLLLLDL; Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWWLWLLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 84; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5; Young Munster: Points: Alan Tynan 84; Tries: Cian Bohane, Rob Guerin 5 each

Preview: You have to feel for Old Belvedere who started their league run with such bright hope, posting four early wins and lifting the Leinster Senior Cup. But last week saw them relegated from the top flight having gone eight matches without a victory.

On paper, the Bateman Cup finalists have a squad to challenge for league honours, but it just has not happened for them and September’s memorable 36-35 success down at Young Munster seems a long time ago.

The Cookies have added motivation for this return leg as they are very much in the hunt for a home semi-final. Out-half Alan Tynan’s lone penalty got them the result against Cork Con, the Tipperary youngster taking his league tally to 84 points since early October.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 6, 2016: Old Belvedere 11 Young Munster 14, Anglesea Road; Saturday, September 17, 2016: Young Munster 35 Old Belvedere 36, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win