Ulster Bank League Division 1A resumes tonight with leaders Lansdowne tackling Terenure on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch, while the match of the day on Saturday is a repeat of one of last season’s semi-finals – Young Munster v Clontarf.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 25
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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LANSDOWNE (1st) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), Aviva Stadium back pitch, tonight, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWWWWW; Terenure College: WWWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 82; Tries: Eamonn Mills, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keefe 3 each; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 59; Tries: Niall Lalor, Robbie Smyth, Jake Swaine 3 each
Preview: The Lansdowne juggernaut rolls on with seven wins already chalked up, but they cannot afford to be complacent with second-placed Terenure on the prowl and looking to recapture their early season form.
Scott Deasy delivered the telling blows in Lansdowne’s 9-0 win away to Clontarf last time out, but there were some excellent performances from the supporting cast, including the second row pairing of the 22-year-old Jack Dwan and Josh O’Rourke.
The battle for lineout supremacy should be a closely-fought one with Alex Thompson and Michael Melia also impressing in ‘Nure’s engine room. The Lakelands outfit were 24-point losers on their most recent visit to the Aviva Stadium, but tonight’s top of the table clash should be a much tighter affair.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 24, 2016: Lansdowne 29 Terenure College 5, Aviva Stadium main pitch; Saturday, April 8, 2017: Terenure College 36 Lansdowne 17, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v GARRYOWEN (4th), College Park, 2pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LLLWWLW; Garryowen: LWWLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Tommy Whittle 19; Tries: Michael Silvester 3; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 60; Tries: Liam Coombes, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, David Johnston, Peadar Collins, James McInerney 2 each
Preview: With three wins in the last four rounds, Dublin University are on the cusp of breaking away from the bottom two. Eight points separates them from fourth-placed Garryowen, who make the trip on the back of a frustrating one-point Limerick Charity Cup final defeat to Nenagh Ormond.
The Light Blues claimed the derby spoils last time out in the league, with two Neil Cronin penalties seeing them edge out Young Munster, and they will be out for revenge against Trinity after losing on the double last term. They travel without the Munster-tied Sam Arnold, Bill Johnston and Sean O’Connor.
The students welcome back fit-again former Ireland Under-20 captain Jack Kelly for his first start of the campaign. Tony Smeeth’s side will wear rainbow laces in their boots tomorrow to promote LGBT inclusivity in sport.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2016: Garryowen 14 Dublin University 27, Dooradoyle; Saturday, March 4, 2017: Dublin University 19 Garryowen 3, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
BUCCANEERS (10th) v UCD (6th), Dubarry Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LLLLLLL; UCD: WWLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Luke Carty 40; Tries: Rory O’Connor 6; UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 40; Tries: Jamie Glynn 3
Preview: Buccaneers are in danger of being cut adrift at the bottom of the table, with a seven-point gap to make up on St. Mary’s. Their results so far are not reflective of their performances, which included bonus point efforts against Terenure and Cork Constitution.
It will be interesting to see if Glasson man Stephen McVeigh, a UCD scholarship student, lines out against his former club, and how many of the students’ Ireland Under-20 and Sevens representatives are available for this midlands test.
The clubs last met in the league back in 2013, with a home win apiece. For tomorrow’s rematch, Buccs will hope to have versatile Kiwi forward Dan Law back in the starting pack, while a possible wing showdown between Rory O’Connor, who has run in six tries to date, and Ireland Under-20 starlet Tommy O’Brien is a mouth-watering prospect.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 5, 2013: Buccaneers 25 UCD 20, Dubarry Park; Saturday, March 16, 2013: UCD 19 Buccaneers 13, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLWLLWW; St. Mary’s College: WLLWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 59; Tries: Kevin O’Byrne, Conor Kindregan, JJ O’Neill, Ned Hodson 2 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 36; Tries: Tim Maupin 4
Preview: Aidan Moynihan stepped into the boots of Tomas Quinlan to guide Cork Constitution to a five-point triumph at Buccaneers last time out, while Tim Maupin’s fourth try of the campaign was not enough to inspire St. Mary’s back to winning ways.
Mary’s lost a game to Trinity they could and perhaps should have won, with no scores forthcoming from two late penalties they sent to the corner. Injuries have hampered head coach Peter Burke’s ability to field a settled side.
Third-placed Cork Con lost their most recent home match to Young Munster, and with three defeats already compared to five during last season’s title-winning campaign, Brian Hickey’s men know they need to be at their best during these crucial winter games.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 17, 2016: St. Mary’s College 16 Cork Constitution 20, Templeville Road; Saturday, April 15, 2017: Cork Constitution 34 St. Mary’s College 27, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (7th) v CLONTARF (5th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LLWLWWL; Clontarf: LWLWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Shane Airey 22; Tries: Ben Kilkenny 4; Clontarf: Points: Matt D’Arcy 30; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6
Preview: A heavyweight encounter to savour as Young Munster and Clontarf meet for the first time since last April’s super-charged semi-final which ended in a 37-29 win for the north Dubliners at Castle Avenue.
There were narrow try-less defeats for both sides in the last round. Munsters will be pleased to have gotten Ireland Under-20 ace Alan Tynan back on the pitch, but Calvin Nash, who is on the Munster bench against Zebre, will be a notable absentee tomorrow afternoon.
While the Cookies and ‘Tarf do have some excellent attacking talents in the outside backs, the key contests are likely to be up front where the likes of Ivan Soroka, Colm Skehan, Royce Burke-Flynn and Peter Meyer will look to gain the edge at scrum time.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 25, 2017: Clontarf 11 Young Munster 13, Castle Avenue; Sunday, April 23, 2017: Semi-Final: Clontarf 37 Young Munster 29, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win