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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

There are a couple of tempting first courses on offer for fans attending Ireland’s clash with Argentina tomorrow, as Old Wesley and Old Belvedere are both in Division 1B action nearby, entertaining Naas and Banbridge respectively in 2pm kick-offs.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, November 25

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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This season sees the introduction of the #UBLTry of the Month award with a prize of 250 euro for each monthly winner and entry into the Try of the Year award.

OLD BELVEDERE (5th) v NAAS (6th), Anglesea Road, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: LLWDWWL; Naas: WWLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Tim Foley 68; Tries: Shane McDonald 3; Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 32; Tries: Fionn Higgins 5

Preview: Old Belvedere may have lost for the first time in five rounds, but picking up a hard-earned losing bonus point at Banbridge should serve them well. In-form lock Jack Kelly is chasing his third try in as many games.

The first of two pre-Christmas trips to the capital comes at a good time for Naas, who bounced back brilliantly in the last round to end Shannon’s unbeaten run. Winger Fionn Higgins scored two tries from kicks, taking his season’s haul to five.

Both of these sides are gunning for their fourth win in eight games and as we head towards the midpoint of the league season, the pace will only quicken. What a day it would be for Naas to win at Anglesea Road before watching one of their own, Adam Byrne, make his debut for Ireland?

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Naas to win

OLD WESLEY (7th) v BANBRIDGE (3rd), Donnybrook, 2pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Wesley: LLLDLWW; Banbridge: WDWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Wesley: Points: Jack Maybury 62; Tries: Jack Maybury 4; Banbridge: Points: Ian Porter 71; Tries: Andrew Morrison 3

Preview: A terrific defensive performance, combined with Jack Maybury’s prolific scoring form, saw Old Wesley take the spoils at UL Bohemians last time out, and they will need more of the same when Banbridge come calling.

Bann, who edged out ‘Belvo to stay third in the table, visit Donnybrook for the first time in over three years. They have Robin Sinton and fit-again Ulster Academy back rower Caleb Montgomery available this week, with winger Conor Field hunting for his third try in four matches.

Bann head coach Daniel Soper said: “These three games before Christmas usually have a big bearing on league positions with teams making a big shift. We haven’t always done well against those teams at the bottom and Dolphin’s results have certainly picked up over recent weeks. But we’ve Wesley first on the 4G pitch at Donnybrook so that will be interesting.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 22, 2014: Old Wesley 31 Banbridge 31, Donnybrook; Saturday, April 11, 2015: Banbridge 29 Old Wesley 24, Rifle Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Banbridge to win

DOLPHIN (10th) v UL BOHEMIANS (9th), Irish Independent Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dolphin: LWLLLLL; UL Bohemians: LLWLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 42; Tries: Brian Scott 2; UL Bohemians: Points: Robbie Bourke 30; Tries: James Ryan 4

Preview: This Munster derby is sure to be ferociously competitive with both clubs scrapping for points at the foot of the table. With just one win apiece, it has been a difficult season so far for both Dolphin and UL Bohemians.

Chris Rowe’s Dolphin will hope for better luck after losing to a last-minute penalty from UCC, but the players and coaches were rightly encouraged by that resilient performance. They would love to repeat last April’s 16-10 success away to Bohs.

Wins have been frustratingly out of reach for UL in the last few rounds. Three losing bonus points on the bounce show how close the margins have been. Watch out for pack regulars James Ryan, Daragh Frawley and Joe Bennett who have scored eight tries between them so far.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 17, 2016: Dolphin 10 UL Bohemians 41, Irish Independent Park; Saturday, April 15, 2017: UL Bohemians 10 Dolphin 16, University of Limerick 4G pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UL Bohemians to win

SHANNON (1st) v BALLYMENA (8th), Thomond Park back pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Shannon: WWWWWWL; Ballymena: WLLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Conor Fitzgerald 81; Tries: Eathon Moloney, Conor Fitzgerald 4 each; Ballymena: Points: Brett Herron 55; Tries: Rodger McBurney 3

Preview: Shannon and Ballymena have had a couple of weeks to mull over league defeats, Tom Hayes’ table toppers losing by three points to Naas and the Braidmen held scoreless by a Ballynahinch side inspired by Ulster players.

Importantly, Andy Graham’s charges recovered from that 27-0 reversal to qualify for the Ulster Senior Cup final thanks to last week’s 13-6 defeat of ‘Hinch. James Gallagher and Nacho Cladera Crespo are absent this week, but Callum Patterson, Brett Herron, David Shanahan, Adam McBurney and Marcus Rea are all set to start.

Shannon lost both of their clashes with Ballymena last season, going down by six and three points respectively, but they are a much-improved force this term. Top-scoring out-half Conor Fitzgerald’s duel with Herron should have a big influence on the outcome. The hosts are without Munster call-ups Ciaran Parker and Jack Stafford.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 17, 2016: Shannon 19 Ballymena 25, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, April 15, 2017: Ballymena 13 Shannon 10, Eaton Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

UCC (4th) v BALLYNAHINCH (2nd), the Mardyke

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCC: LDLWWWW; Ballynahinch: LWWWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: James Taylor 77; Tries: Cian Bohane, Murray Linn, Richard Walsh 3 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Johnny McPhillips 56; Tries: Richard Reaney, Conor Kelly, David Busby 3 each

Preview: UCC will target their fifth straight league victory when hosting second-placed Ballynahinch at the Mardyke. Young out-half James Taylor (77 points) landed a last-minute penalty against Dolphin to make it four wins on the trot.

‘Hinch travel south with a clear determination to defeat a top four team for the first time this season. They are aided in their quest by the availability of Ulster’s Peter Browne, Johnny McPhillips, Aaron Cairns and David Busby, but injury rules out prop Jonny Simpson.

The Cork students won both of last season’s meetings, triumphing 15-10 in County Down and 39-18 on home soil. Centres Cian Bohane and Murray Linn have had a big impact so far in the current campaign, contributing six tries between them.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 12, 2016: Ballynahinch 10 UCC 15, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, February 11, 2017: UCC 39 Ballynahinch 18, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win