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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Four of this weekend’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A games are in the capital, beginning with tonight’s derby between last season’s beaten finalists Clontarf and St. Mary’s College, who are now coached by Peter Burke and Steve Bradshaw.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, September 23

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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This season sees the introduction of the #UBLTry of the Month award with a prize of 250 euro for each monthly winner and entry into the Try of the Year award.

CLONTARF (8th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th), Castle Avenue, tonight, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: L; St. Mary’s College: W
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Conor Jennings 6; Tries: Matt D’Arcy, Vakh Abdaladze 1 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 8; Tries: David O’Connor 1

Preview: The first Friday Night Lights clash of the Division 1A campaign sees St. Mary’s visit Clontarf, aiming for their second win under new head coach Peter Burke. Their second row pairing, captain Ciaran Ruddock and try-scoring man-of-the-match David O’Connor, were hugely influential in last week’s six-point success at Garryowen.

Clontarf return home after a disappointing outing against Cork Constitution. They leaked 30 points and four tries to the reigning champions and New Zealander Andy Wood will want their defence back in tip-top shape as soon as possible.

St. Mary’s won last season’s corresponding fixture 23-20, with young out-half Sean Kearns kicking the decisive 77th-minute penalty. ‘Tarf need to improve their home form after losses to Mary’s, Old Belvedere, Terenure College and Young Munster in 2016/17.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 24, 2016: Clontarf 20 St. Mary’s College 23, Castle Avenue; Friday, April 7, 2017: St. Mary’s College 12 Clontarf 31, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

GARRYOWEN (6th) v BUCCANEERS (7th), Dooradoyle

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: L; Buccaneers: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: -; Tries: -; Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon 5; Tries: Conor McKeon 1

Preview: Home defeats have Garryowen and Buccaneers in the lower half of the table after round 1. With five debutants on board, Buccs had a strong first outing against Lansdowne, the 19-10 scoreline not telling the full story. Their new number 8 Paul Boyle delivered a man-of-the-match display.

The Light Blues, with a reinforced and bruising pack, ran out of steam in the second half against St. Mary’s, going down 13-7. Their first half scrum dominance, which earned them a penalty try, was relinquished and Buccs will certainly look to match Mary’s in playing to a high tempo.

If the centre pairings remain the same from last week, there should be an intriguing battle between Garryowen’s Munster prospects, David Johnston and Peadar Collins, and Buccaneers’ new captain Shane Layden and fellow former Connacht back, Danie Poolman.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 20, 2014: Buccaneers 25 Garryowen 22, Dubarry Park; Saturday, January 3, 2015: Garryowen 28 Buccaneers 20, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win

LANSDOWNE (4th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (9th), Aviva Stadium main pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: W; Young Munster: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 14; Tries: Charlie Rock 1; Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes, Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Mark O’Mara 5 each; Tries: Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Mark O’Mara 1 each

Preview: Memories of Lansdowne’s dramatic extra-time semi-final win over Young Munster from 2015 will flood back when the sides run out onto the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch tomorrow. The headquarters club won a tricky opener at Buccaneers, with debutant scrum half Charlie Rock touching down soon after his introduction.

As ever when these sides collide, the forward exchanges could be match-defining. Improving their discipline against Buccs with their front row to the fore, Lansdowne had a 10-3 second half penalty count in their favour, while two of Munsters’ tries in their 39-20 reversal against UCD came from muscular mauls.

It was one win apiece last season, Scott Deasy landing four successful kicks to add to Lansdowne’s four tries in a 30-24 victory on the Aviva’s back pitch. Munsters won the rematch at Greenfields 19-10 thanks to Ireland Under-20 international Alan Tynan’s 14 points from the tee.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 3, 2016: Lansdowne 30 Young Munster 24, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, January 28, 2017: Young Munster 19 Lansdowne 10, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Lakelands Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: W; Cork Constitution: W
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Oisin Heffernan, Michael Melia, Sam Coghlan Murray, Stephen O’Neill 5 each; Tries: Oisin Heffernan, Michael Melia, Sam Coghlan Murray, Stephen O’Neill 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 15; Tries: Shane Daly, Rob Jermyn, Brendan Quinlan, Tomas Quinlan 1 each

Preview: Terenure College shot straight to the top of the table courtesy of an astute 24-0 four-try dismissal of Dublin University. It was a business-like start from ‘Nure, with their new lock combination of Michael Melia, one of the try scorers, and Alex Thompson looking the part.

Hosting the defending champions will reveal a fair bit more about the Dubliners’ current state and their chances of challenging for the top four. They lost twice to Cork Constitution last season, with Tomas Quinlan kicking 11 points as the Leesiders took a 16-10 verdict at Lakelands.

Out-half Quinlan continued where he left off in May with a 15-point contribution in last week’s 30-18 victory over Clontarf. The hunger remains strong among the Constitution collective, while newer players like Alex McHenry and Ross O’Neill are already making their mark.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 5, 2016: Cork Constitution 31 Terenure College 15, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 18, 2017: Terenure College 10 Cork Constitution 16, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

UCD (2nd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (10th), Belfield Bowl

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: W; Dublin University: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 12; Tries: Jimmy O’Brien, Emmet MacMahon, Harry McNulty, Jamie Glynn 1 each; Dublin University: Points: -; Tries:

Preview: UCD and Dublin University begin another chapter in their fierce rivalry and another year together in the top flight. Their league openers could not have been any different, College pocketing five points away to Young Munster and injury-hit Trinity being shut out by a rejuvenated Terenure at home.

But with a number of UCD’s backs involved with the Ireland Sevens core squad, some disruption to their team selection is expected both this week and next. In naming their team, Trinity welcome back Ireland Under-20 international Michael Silvester at full-back and Joe Horan, who has recovered from a torn ACL, comes in at hooker.

Former Italy Under-20 lock Vittorio Mantegazza, noted as a serious lineout operator, is an interesting inclusion in the visitors’ engine room. Tony Smeeth will want a big physical performance from ‘Vitto’, as the director of rugby admitted last week: “We looked a bit young out there (against Terenure). At point of contact we got savaged. It’s tough rugby in this league.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 24, 2016: Dublin University 13 UCD 23, College Park; Friday, April 7, 2017: UCD 32 Dublin University 19, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win