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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League Division 1A resumes tonight with two tasty Dublin derbies – table-topping Terenure make the trip to Clontarf, last season’s beaten finalists, and St. Mary’s, who got back to winning ways in round 4, host in-form Lansdowne at Templeville Road.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 28

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (6th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (1st), Castle Avenue, tonight, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: LWLW; Terenure College: WWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Matt D’Arcy 20; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 4; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 47; Tries: Niall Lalor 2
 
Preview: Clontarf’s backs coach James Downey will return to the touchline after an 80-minute run-out in their 26-6 bonus point win over Buccaneers. Sean O’Brien is set to slot in at centre alongside Matt D’Arcy who has crossed for four tries in the current campaign.
 
Table toppers Terenure, meanwhile, have found the consistency they craved last season. Defeating last season’s runners-up at Castle Avenue would be another significant milestone for James Blaney’s pacesetters, who have Mark O’Neill (47 points) starring from out-half.
 
As ever, the battle up front will go a long way to deciding tonight’s Dublin derby, with the scrummaging duel between ‘Nure’s Leinster-capped tighthead Oisin Heffernan and Clontarf’s Vakh Abdaladze, who was in British & Irish Cup action last week, certainly one to savour.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 25, 2016: Terenure College 13 Clontarf 21, Lakelands Park; Friday, February 3, 2017: Clontarf 6 Terenure College 13, Castle Avenue 
 
IrishRugby.ie Preview: Terenure College to win
 
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th) v LANSDOWNE (2nd), Templeville Road, tonight, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WLLW; Lansdowne: WWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 36; Tries: Tim Maupin 2; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 53; Tries: Eamonn Mills 3
 
Preview: St. Mary’s signed off before the early season break with a much-needed 23-22 win at UCD. Sean Kearns, who took his season’s haul to 36 points during that game, will revert to full-back to accommodate the return of Conor Dean in the number 10 shirt.
 
Dean’s opposite number tonight, Lansdowne talisman Scott Deasy, has already contributed 53 points to the cause, with 19 of those coming in their 24-10 defeat of defending champions Cork Constitution last time out. Leinster’s Charlie Rock comes in at half-back, with starts also for Sevens international Adam Leavy and Harry Brennan.
 
There should be plenty of bite to this Friday Night Lights encounter, especially with former Lansdowne scrum half Paddy O’Driscoll in the Mary’s side and the hosts’ captain Ciaran Ruddock looking to get one over on his father, Mike, Lansdowne’s long-serving director of rugby.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 25, 2016: St. Mary’s College 21 Lansdowne 45, Templeville Road; Friday, February 3, 2017: Lansdowne 43 St. Mary’s College 20, Aviva Stadium back pitch
 
IrishRugby.ie Preview: Lansdowne to win
 
BUCCANEERS (10th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th), Dubarry Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LLLL; Dublin University: LLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Luke Carty 18; Tries: Rory O’Connor 3; Dublin University: Points: Tommy Whittle 13; Tries: Michael Courtney 2
 
Preview: Buccaneers’ current position is not a true reflection of their first few weeks back in the top flight. Having regrouped since their 20-point defeat at Clontarf, this basement battle in Athlone looks like an ideal launchpad for Darin Claasen’s charges.
 
They will need big performances up front from Martin Staunton, Cian Romaine and Paul Boyle, who has performed superbly since his switch from Lansdowne, while Rory O’Connor (three tries) should be a potent runner in the absence of Ireland Sevens star Jordan Conroy.
 
Trinity are pretty battle-hardened after a terrific victory at Young Munster and two subsequent intervarsity clashes with Cambridge and Oxford. Their Under-20s retained the Conroy Cup last week, while Paddy Finlay’s impressive return off the bench against Munsters was another timely fillip for the students.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 28, 2015: Buccaneers 6 Dublin University 27, Dubarry Park; Saturday, January 9, 2016: Dublin University 22 Buccaneers 23, College Park
 
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win
 
CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (8th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLWL; Young Munster: LLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 39; Tries: Kevin O’Byrne 2; Young Munster: Points: Ben Kilkenny 15; Tries: Ben Kilkenny 3
 
Preview: It is unusual to see both of last year’s finalists, Cork Constitution and Clontarf, outside of the top four presently. Constitution emerged pointless from their round 4 tussle with Lansdowne and will need no reminding that they lost twice to Young Munster last term – 37-15 at home and 3-0 away.
 
It looks like the Cookies are struggling to find form of late, although their surprise 21-17 loss at home to Trinity, coupled with their Munster Senior Cup exit at the hands of Garryowen, means Con can expect to face a wounded animal all out for the win at Temple Hill.
 
While Sevens commitments and Kevin O’Byrne’s inclusion on the Munster bench will force changes, Con will hope to have the services of Evan Mintern who had an excellent two-try performance against Nottingham in the British & Irish Cup. He will be needed as the Young Munster back row, led by captain Ben Kilkenny, are dangerous on both sides of the ball.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 24, 2016: Cork Constitution 15 Young Munster 37, Temple Hill; Saturday, April 8, 2017: Young Munster 3 Cork Constitution 0, Tom Clifford Park
 
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
 
GARRYOWEN (3rd) v UCD (4th), Dooradoyle

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWL; UCD: WWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 30; Tries: Liam Coombes, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham 2 each; UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 35; Tries: Jamie Glynn 3
 
Preview: Garryowen’s losing bonus point picked up at Terenure is all that separates them from UCD, their round 5 visitors, in the table. Two wins from two, with a handful of bonus points, is a solid start from both clubs given the new personnel and injuries.
 
Confidence is high within Light Blue ranks as Conan Doyle’s men have also booked a Munster Senior Cup semi-final place and seen some of their provincial talents impress in the red jersey in the B&I Cup. That was the case too for UCD, whose top scorer Ciaran Frawley had a 12-point haul for Leinster ‘A’ last week.
 
The students lost the corresponding fixture 17-16 at Dooradoyle last February, with young centre Peadar Collins’ 62nd-minute try proving to be the match winner. Another one-score game looks likely here, especially if the visitors can gain parity with a strengthened Garryowen pack.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 5, 2016: UCD 23 Garryowen 16, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, February 18, 2017: Garryowen 17 UCD 16, Dooradoyle
 
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win