September’s final round of Division 1A matches includes some mouth-watering contests, with the St. Mary’s v Terenure derby topping the bill and current leaders UCD facing an acid test away to defending champions Cork Constitution.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, September 30
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BUCCANEERS (8th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (9th), Dubarry Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LL; Young Munster: LL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Rory O’Connor 10; Tries: Rory O’Connor 2; Young Munster: Points: Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Mark O’Mara, Paul Downes, Craig O’Hanlon 5 each; Tries: Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Mark O’Mara, Craig O’Hanlon 1 each
Preview: Buccaneers could do with an upturn in fortunes after emerging without a point from two very competitive performances against Lansdowne and Garryowen. Cruelly, prop Conor Kenny, who was making his comeback after a year out, sustained another injury last week, while a shoulder injury has sidelined experienced centre Danie Poolman.
Young Munster make the trip to the midlands after they were shut down by Lansdowne, the 20-point reversal leaving them second-from-bottom. Early season injuries have hampered them, although their scrum and maul are still big weapons and Ben Swindlehurst and Craig O’Hanlon have impressed in the backs.
Munsters have looked vulnerable out wide in the first two rounds, and despite the continued absence of Jordan Conroy, Buccs have another ready-made match winner in the fleet-footed Rory O’Connor whose brace of tries against Garryowen showed how dangerous he can be.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v UCD (1st), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WL; UCD: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 21; Tries: Shane Daly, Rob Jermyn, Brendan Quinlan, Tomas Quinlan, Kevin O’Byrne, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Greg Higgins, Luke Cahill 1 each; UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 23; Tries: Jamie Glynn 2
Preview: Reigning champions Cork Constitution are involved in another clash with a table-topping side – it was Terenure College last week and now UCD, who have climbed to the summit, in round 3. There will have been plenty of defensive drills at Temple Hill after leaking 39 points to ‘Nure.
Con did pick up two bonus points at Lakelands thanks to a strong finish, the pack providing four tries. The Leesiders and UCD are both missing a number of players during to Ireland’s involvement in the DHL Oktoberfest 7s tournament this weekend.
UCD, who venture south on the back of two bonus point wins, will want to banish memories of last December’s 50-25 defeat at Temple Hill. This should be a much closer affair, especially if the students can get the best out of returning Ireland Under-20 star Tommy O’Brien in attack.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (10th) v LANSDOWNE (3rd), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LL; Lansdowne: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Michael Courtney 5; Tries: Michael Courtney 1; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 24; Tries: Charlie Rock, Mark O’Keefe, Eamonn Mills, Daniel McEvoy 1 each
Preview: There were visible improvements in Trinity’s all-round game last week at UCD, with director of rugby Tony Smeeth feeling that the 36-8 scoreline did not reflect what was an end-to-end tussle. Unless Smeeth’s youngsters cut down their errors, Lansdowne are another side who will ruthlessly punish them.
Mike Ruddock’s men scored 22 unanswered points in the second half against Young Munster, their pacy back-three all scoring tries and young centre Harry Brennan marking his debut with a man-of-the-match performance. Not to be outdone, Scott Deasy also passed the 600-point mark for the club.
Given their recent outings, there looks to be only one winner here unless Trinity can spring a surprise. The scrum half battle between the Ulster and Munster-capped Angus Lloyd and Lansdowne’s Charlie Rock or Alan Bennie is one to relish.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
GARRYOWEN (5th) v CLONTARF (6th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LW; Clontarf: LW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Dean Moore, Darren Ryan, James McInerney, Mike Sherry, Bill Johnston 5 each; Tries: Dean Moore, Darren Ryan, James McInerney, Mike Sherry 1 each; Clontarf: Points: Conor Jennings 19; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 3
Preview: A very interesting match-up here and a chance for Garryowen to avenge last March’s 39-10 loss to Clontarf. Closing tries from Darren Ryan and James McInerney guided the Light Blues to a late bonus point win at Buccaneers, the impact of front rowers JP Cooney and Mike Sherry off the bench proving vital.
‘Tarf also got back to winning ways in round 2, centre Matt D’Arcy taking his season’s haul to three tries as they got the better of St. Mary’s (33-16). Mention must also go to number 8 Tony Ryan who finished off a superb team score on the night.
There could be fireworks in two key areas tomorrow. The midfield match-ups could see D’Arcy come up against Munster centre Sam Arnold who, like Sherry, is coming back from injury, while Clontarf loosehead Ivan Soroka is sure to get a tough afternoon’s scrummaging from Garryowen’s in-form tighthead Andy Keating.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), Templeville Road, 3.15pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WL; Terenure College: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 17; Tries: David O’Connor, Tim Maupin 1 each; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 13; Tries: Niall Lalor 2
Preview: Undoubtedly the match of the day in the top flight as St. Mary’s host second-placed Terenure in part one of the ‘Battle of the Parishes’. If ‘Nure reach the same intensity and tempo they showed against Cork Con, they will be warm favourites to make it three wins from three.
However, anything can happen in a local derby and St. Mary’s enjoyed a fine double over Terenure last season, winning by four and seven points respectively. They have an ultra-competitive pack under Ciaran Ruddock’s direction and a terrific backs-inspired try by full-back Tim Maupin last week showed how potent they can be.
‘Nure’s loose forward trio of Cathal Deans, Niall Lalor and Eoin Joyce have stood out for their effectiveness around the pitch in the past fortnight, Lalor (2) and Joyce scoring three tries between them in that action-packed victory over Con.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win