The reverse fixtures of the back-to-back matches take place in the Ulster Bank League’s top flight tomorrow, with bottom side Buccaneers looking to overcome St. Mary’s again and record their third successive win, while leaders Lansdowne could make it a ‘perfect 10’ at home to UCD.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 9
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BUCCANEERS (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Dubarry Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LLLLLLLWW; St. Mary’s College: WLLWLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Luke Carty 55; Tries: Rory O’Connor 7; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 36; Tries: Tim Maupin 4
Preview: Buccaneers’ final match of the calendar year offers them the chance to climb off the bottom rung of the Division 1A table tomorrow, as they target their third win on the trot.
A feisty second half comeback netted them the points away to St. Mary’s last week, but they are missing the Connacht Eagles-tied quartet of Conor McKeon, Conan O’Donnell, Conor Kenny and Paul Boyle for this rematch.
British & Irish Cup commitments could mean Caelan Doris is an absentee for Mary’s. They could have Sean Kearns back from injury, while centre Marcus O’Driscoll, with two tries and a number of line-breaks in his last three outings, is hitting top form.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 2016, St. Mary’s College 19 Buccaneers 16, Templeville Road; Saturday, December 2, 2017: St. Mary’s College 10 Buccaneers 11, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v GARRYOWEN (3rd), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLWLLWWWL; Garryowen: LWWLWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 77; Tries: JJ O’Neill 3; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 86; Tries: Liam Coombes, David Johnston 5 each
Preview: With Munster ‘A’ playing Bedford Blues tonight, Garryowen’s Conan Doyle is the most affected of the two coaches with brothers David and Bill Johnston, Liam Coombes, Mike Sherry and Sean O’Connor all on B&I Cup duty.
Losing both David Johnston and Coombes – their top try scorers with five apiece – out of their back-three will dent the Light Blues’ attacking play, and defending champions Cork Constitution should be able to take advantage and reverse last week’s 24-17 defeat.
The two sides will be very well acquainted with each other by Christmas time, given that they are due to meet for the third week in a row next Saturday at the semi-final stage of the Munster Senior Cup.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 25, 2017: Cork Constitution 26 Garryowen 20, Temple Hill; Saturday, December 2, 2017: Garryowen 24 Cork Constitution 17, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v CLONTARF (4th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LLLWWLWLL; Clontarf: LWLWWWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Michael Silvester 30; Tries: Michael Silvester 6; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 38; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7
Preview: Dublin University have made three personnel changes for the second leg of their double header with Clontarf. Bryan Mollen and Seb Fromm return from Sevens and 15s international duty respectively, the former replacing Leinster ‘A’ call-up Jack Kelly on the right wing.
Jack Dunne’s inclusion in the second row means a move to the blindside for Trinity’s American recruit Alex McDonald, while Clontarf will be much-changed given that Jack Power, Conor O’Brien, Bryan Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze, Cormac Daly and Hugh O’Sullivan are all in B&I Cup action tonight.
‘Tarf only had five points to spare at the end of last Saturday’s eventful clash, and with two of the top flight’s leading try scorers – Michael Silvester (6 tries) and Matt D’Arcy (7) – on the pitch, the College Park crowd should be treated to a pre-Christmas cracker.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 28, 2017: Dublin University 0 Clontarf 29, College Park; Saturday, December 2, 2017: Clontarf 29 Dublin University 24, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
LANSDOWNE (1st) v UCD (6th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWWWWWWW; UCD: WWLLLLWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 106; Tries: Mark O’Keefe, Harry Brennan 4 each; UCD: Points: Ciaran Frawley 42; Tries: Jamie Glynn 3
Preview: Unbeaten Division 1A leaders Lansdowne are also unsurprisingly affected by B&I Cup call-ups, but their strength in depth is likely to stand to them again as they go in search of win number 10 tomorrow afternoon.
UCD are hit even harder with sixth starters from last week’s 30-23 loss to Lansdowne unavailable for the trip to headquarters, including Leinster ‘A’ backs Ciaran Frawley, Gavin Mullin and Tommy O’Brien and prop Jeremy Loughman who has signed a short-term development deal with Munster.
Opportunity knocks for some of the clubs’ fringe players here, but Lansdowne’s out-half general Scott Deasy, who is having a fine season with 106 points already, is likely to be centre stage once again.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, February 10, 2017: UCD 8 Lansdowne 45, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, December 2, 2017: UCD 23 Lansdowne 30, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LLWLWWLLL; Terenure College: WWWWLWLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Shane Airey 28; Tries: Ben Kilkenny 4; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 64; Tries: Eoin Joyce, Jake Swaine 4 each
Preview: Young Munster begin the second half of the league season with the sour taste of last week’s 32-13 trouncing by Terenure in their mouths. At least they have an immediate chance to gain revenge.
‘Nure also have fond memories of their most recent trip to Greenfields last February when a late try from former Ireland Under-20 centre Harrison Brewer, who played at number 8 last Saturday, earned them a 28-17 bonus point win.
With an expected backlash from the Cookies, it will be difficult for James Blaney’s men to repeat that feat, but if they can maintain the quality of their attack – centre Stephen O’Neill ran in a superb solo try from halfway in the first game – then a season’s double could well be on the cards.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 11, 2017: Young Munster 17 Terenure College 28, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, December 2, 2017: Terenure College 32 Young Munster 13, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win