Two of last season’s top four finishers, Clontarf and Lansdowne, headline a bumper Friday night in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, with Garryowen, St. Mary’s College and Terenure College also hosting floodlit clashes.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Friday, November 10
Kick-off 7.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (3rd) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: LWLWWW; Lansdowne: WWWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Matt D’Arcy 30; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 73; Tries: Eamonn Mills, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keefe 3 each
Preview: With teams jockeying for position in the top four, tomorrow’s tussle at Castle Avenue will be good early season indicator of where two of the perennial title challengers are at.
Both Andy Wood and Mike Ruddock continue to nurture young talent and give them opportunities at his level, with Clontarf’s Sean O’Brien and Cormac Daly and Lansdowne’s Harry Brennan and Jack O’Sullivan all impressing in recent rounds.
There are important Ulster Bank League points as well as the Leinster Senior League Cup trophy on the line tomorrow. ‘Tarf won last season’s corresponding fixture 12-3, but given their current form, Ruddock’s side will take some dislodging from top spot.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 28, 2016: Lansdowne 33 Clontarf 31, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, March 3, 2017: Clontarf 12 Lansdowne 3, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
GARRYOWEN (5th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (6th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWLWL; Young Munster: LLWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 54; Tries: Liam Coombes, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, David Johnston, Peadar Collins, James McInerney 2 each; Young Munster: Points: Shane Airey 22; Tries: Ben Kilkenny 20
Preview: Limerick bragging rights in the top flight are up for grabs as Garryowen, fresh from giving Lansdowne a tough test, host resurgent Young Munster.
The Light Blues could have Munster’s David Johnston back from a dead leg, while experienced hooker Mike Sherry continues to get game-time as part of rejuvenated pack.
With two wins in the past fortnight, Young Munster are beginning to motor. Captain Ben Kilkenny, Gavin Coombes and Daniel Hurley have each scored three tries in the last four rounds, but expect defences to be on top in a battle royal at Dooradoyle.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 25, 2016: Young Munster 11 Garryowen 13, Tom Clifford Park; Friday, February 3, 2017: Garryowen 13 Young Munster 32, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WLLWLL; Dublin University: LLLWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 36; Tries: Tim Maupin 3; Dublin University: Points: Tommy Whittle 19; Tries: Michael Silvester 3
Preview: It has been a chastening couple of weeks for St. Mary’s who have leaked a combined 84 points to Lansdowne and Young Munster and fallen to eighth overall.
Poor tackling and a lack of intensity was evident in Mary’s 55-7 loss to Munsters, but tomorrow night’s floodlit tie gives them an ideal opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
Although Trinity were held try-less by Cork Constitution last Saturday, going down 28-3, they do seem to be on an upward curve. They could face three former players in the Mary’s line-up – Tim Maupin, Jack Dilger and Nick McCarthy, who captained the students in their promotion-winning 2015/16 campaign.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 30, 2016: St. Mary’s College 19 Dublin University 31, Templeville Road; Saturday, March 25, 2017: Dublin University 24 St. Mary’s College 37, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd) v UCD (7th), Lakelands Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WWWWLW; UCD: WWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 59; Tries: Niall Lalor, Robbie Smyth 3 each; UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 35; Tries: Jamie Glynn 3
Preview: Even if they are not getting results currently, UCD are staying competitive with three losing bonus points earned in the last four rounds.
Andy Skehan’s selection should be strengthened this week with no provincial and Ireland Sevens action. Second-placed Terenure would definitely take a repeat of last year’s 31-24 home win over the students.
‘Nure’s South African prop Schalk Jooste, Alex Thompson and Sam Coghlan Murray caught the eye in their latest Lakelands triumph against Buccaneers. Top scorer Mark O’Neill (59 points) should come back in after sitting out last week’s game.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 1, 2016: Terenure College 31 UCD 24, Lakelands Park; Saturday, March 25, 2017: UCD 3 Terenure College 3, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
BUCCANEERS (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Dubarry Park, Saturday, 2.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LLLLLL; Cork Constitution: WLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Luke Carty 38; Tries: Rory O’Connor 4; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 59; Tries: Kevin O’Byrne, Conor Kindregan 2 each
Preview: Picking up their first league point at Terenure was a small victory for Buccaneers, giving them a foot on the ladder ahead of the visit of defending champions Cork Constitution.
The Buccs pack could be bolstered on Saturday by Cian Romaine, who is back from suspension, Dan Law and Paul Boyle, while the form of top scorers Luke Carty (38 points) and Rory O’Connor (4 tries) enhances the Pirates’ chances of springing a surprise.
However, with ex-Bucc Conor Kindregan in their engine room, Cork Con will be well aware of what lies ahead in Athlone. The Leesiders beat Buccs in the 2015 and 2017 Bateman Cup semi-finals, and were 47-7 winners in the clubs’ last league encounter at Temple Hill back in January 2009.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win