The spotlight in Division 1A is very much on the capital tomorrow with four of the five matches taking place in Dublin. The match of the day honours go to third-placed Garryowen’s trip to Lansdowne, the top flight’s new leaders who ended Terenure College’s unbeaten run.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 4
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (6th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LLLWW; Cork Constitution: WLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Tommy Whittle 19; Tries: Michael Silvester 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 53; Tries: Kevin O’Byrne 2
Preview: Dublin University director of rugby Tony Smeeth has unsurprisingly kept faith with the vast majority of the side that overhauled Buccaneers last week with a strong two-try finish that netted their second successive win.
Billy O’Hora’s return on the left wing is the only change for the students. They should be prepared for an almighty scrap with the defending champions who are hurting from a last-minute loss to Young Munster – their third defeat in the only five rounds.
Cork Constitution won 30-10 when they visited College Park twelve months ago – current Munster prop Liam O’Connor was among their three try scorers that day. But head coach Brian Hickey will not be too concerned with the margin of victory tomorrow. He will just want a swift return a winning ways.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 26, 2016: Dublin University 10 Cork Constitution 30, College Park; Saturday, February 4, 2017: Cork Constitution 19 Dublin University 3, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
LANSDOWNE (1st) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWWW; Garryowen: LWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 61; Tries: Eamonn Mills 3; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 47; Tries: Liam Coombes, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, David Johnston 2 each
Preview: New leaders Lansdowne look the form team in the top flight at present, their 26 unanswered second half points against St. Mary’s a clear signal of their determination to win a third league title in six years.
While Ireland Sevens international Adam Leavy scored two well-taken tries on his club debut, captain Ian Prendiville and fellow forward Charlie Butterworth both look back to their consistent best. They will be two key figures against a resurgent Garryowen whose improving scrum faces an acid test at headquarters.
The Light Blues will need big performances from the Johnston brothers, David and Bill, with Munster requiring the services of Alex Wootton and Sam Arnold tonight. Even with the latter pair, you would still fancy Lansdowne to do the business. Their defence has been granite-like, only conceding 44 points so far.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 17, 2016: Garryowen 25 Lansdowne 32, Dooradoyle; Saturday, April 15, 2017: Lansdowne 40 Garryowen 17, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd) v BUCCANEERS (10th), Lakelands Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WWWWL; Buccaneers: LLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 59; Tries: Niall Lalor 3; Buccaneers: Points: Luke Carty 27; Tries: Rory O’Connor 3
Preview: Terenure were knocked off their perch by last week’s 29-17 reversal at Clontarf. On paper, this looks like the ideal game for ‘Nure to recover from that setback, but they will be wary of an injury-hit Buccaneers side who are desperate for points.
With plenty of early season woes in terms of injuries and player unavailability, new Buccs coaches Darin Claasen and Mike McCarthy have had a tough time of it. They are not helped this week by Jordan Conroy’s absence due to Ireland Sevens duty and lock Cian Romaine is suspended.
The Pirates have got to stop leaking points during the closing stages of games – an unanswered 10 last week allowed Trinity to win a tight contest in Athlone. Terenure are the second top scorers in the division – out-half Mark O’Neill has 59 points to his name – and should have too much firepower for Buccs.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 21, 2013: Buccaneers 0 Terenure College 13, Dubarry Park; Saturday, April 19, 2014: Terenure College 36 Buccaneers 29, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
UCD (5th) v CLONTARF (4th), Belfield Bowl
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: WWLLL; Clontarf: LWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 35; Tries: Jamie Glynn 3; Clontarf: Points: Matt D’Arcy 25; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 5
Preview: Going down 27-20 to Garryowen is a result that UCD could rue come April. They had a one-man advantage for 50-plus minutes but could not put away the resilient Light Blues, with a lone Matthew Gilsenan penalty being their only second half score.
Clontarf make the trip to the southside buoyed by their toppling of leaders Terenure. A first away win of the season would build further momentum for Andy Wood’s men, whose star centre Matt D’Arcy has already chipped in with five tries. Versatile back Jamie Glynn tops the UCD charts with three.
It is a big weekend for two of these clubs’ young stars, with Mullingar native Conor O’Brien, who helped ‘Tarf win their second league crown in 2016, making his debut in the Leinster midfield tonight, while UCD flanker Josh Murphy joins him as a replacement in Glasgow.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 27, 2016: UCD 20 Clontarf 22, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, April 15, 2017: Clontarf 37 UCD 28, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (7th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LLWLW; St. Mary’s College: WLLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Ben Kilkenny 20; Tries: Ben Kilkenny 4; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 36; Tries: Tim Maupin 3
Preview: Having lost three of their first four games, Young Munster looked in further trouble when trailing 13-0 to Cork Constitution last Saturday. But a stunning team try scored by captain Ben Kilkenny, with their dynamic front row all involved, spurred them on to a gutsy 20-19 victory.
Despite a promising opening, St. Mary’s faded against Lansdowne and eventually lost 33-7. An all-action display from flanker Nick McCarthy earned him the man-of-the-match nod. Conor Dean’s cross-field kicks have become a valuable weapon, teeing up American winger Tim Maupin for his third try of the season.
Munsters must make Greenfields a fortress again after recent defeats to the two student sides. Last February’s meeting saw Mary’s pipped 20-18 having outscored the hosts by three tries to two. Centre Cian Bohane, who is now with UCC, broke their hearts with a late Cookies try.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 5, 2016: St. Mary’s College 32 Young Munster 34, Templeville Road; Saturday, February 18, 2017: Young Munster 20 St. Mary’s College 18, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win