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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 6 December, 2019
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Andrew Porter back in AIL action with UCD and all of the weekend's previews

Division 1A leaders Terenure College host Garryowen in one of the standout fixtures of the weekend.

AIL Division 1A

Saturday, 2.30pm kick offs unless stated 

UCD (5th) v St Mary’s College (8th), Belfield Bowl, Friday 7.30pm

UCD ARE SET to welcome back Ireland Sevens internationals Billy Dardis and Harry McNulty into their back-three for tonight’s encounter at Belfield.

Andrew Porter on the attack Andrew Porter is on the bench for UCD this weekend. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Leinster prop Andrew Porter is also named on the bench as the students look to bounce back from last week’s 18-5 loss to Cork Constitution. St. Mary’s also tasted defeat in round 3 against neighbours Terenure.

Mary’s did the double over UCD last season and their provisional starting back-line includes two members of last year’s St. Mary’s Leinster Schools Senior Cup side – Myles Carey on the right wing and Craig Kennedy on the left.

Clontarf (6th) v Buccaneers (9th), Castle Avenue 

Clontarf severely underperformed in last week’s 51-17 trouncing by Garryowen. A dose of home comforts should get them back on track tomorrow, but Buccaneers are no pushovers.

The Pirates lost their grip on a 24-13 lead against Young Munster, their luckless three-match run not even netting them a bonus point. Flanker Dan Law is their main injury concern this week.

Two of the top flight’s leading try scorers will be on show at Castle Avenue – Matt D’Arcy and Rory O’Connor (three each) – and you would have to back rangy centre D’Arcy to drive ‘Tarf back to winning ways.

Terenure College (1st) v Garryowen (3rd), Lakelands Park

A new season and it is very much a ‘new’ Terenure. Three straight wins, including last week’s derby victory over St. Mary’s, has them already halfway to matching their 2016/17 total.

James Blaney will have their feet firmly planted on the ground, though, as Garryowen are also in flying form. They put a combined 80 points on Buccs and Clontarf at home – their task now is to win on their travels.

Two players who have been crucial to these clubs’ strong starts are half-backs Mark O’Neill, who has kicked 25 points for ‘Nure and orchestrated some telling moves, and Neil Cronin whose 26-point haul for the Light Blues last Saturday gave a reminder of his versatile talent.

Young Munster (7th) v Dublin University (10th), Tom Clifford Park

Buoyed by their second half fight-back against Buccaneers, which was crowned by a Gavin Coombes try, Young Munster will have revenge on their minds against Dublin University.

Trinity were the only club to do the double over Munsters last year, but a combination of injuries and players moving on means their director of rugby Tony Smeeth is without a large chunk of that victorious squad.

The students are still capable of moments of magic – witness Michael Silvester’s 80-metre wonder try against Lansdowne last week. However, the Cookies should have too much for them as they look to make it two wins from four.

Lansdowne (2nd) v Cork Constitution (4th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Sunday 2.30pm

Division 1A’s third Leinster v Munster club clash of the weekend has been moved to Sunday afternoon to accommodate the Guinness Pro14 derby at headquarters tomorrow.

Cork Constitution have developed a fondness for the Aviva Stadium’s all-weather back pitch, having won twice there last season, including the semi-final, on the way to becoming champions in May.

Lansdowne will certainly feel that they owe Con one. They put eight tries on Trinity last time out and have the firepower, including the inaugural UBL Try of the Month winner Daniel McEvoy, to put an early dent in the Leesiders’ title defence.

AIL Division 1B

Ballymena (8th) v Banbridge (3rd), Eaton Park, Friday 7.30pm

Unbeaten Banbridge visit Ballymena in Division 1B’s first Friday Night Lights fixture of the season, with Ulster’s Brett Herron and David Shanahan piloting the hosts from half-back.

The Braidmen have slipped to back-to-back defeats and have been regular visitors to the naughty step with nine yellow cards in the opening three rounds. Ireland Under-18 Sevens captain Angus Kernohan is set for his second league start on the wing, with Ulster’s Adam McBurney and Clive Ross bolstering the pack.

Robert Lyttle returns on the wing for Bann whose head coach Daniel Soper said: “We’ve already hit our target for points for the first block of four games with Ballymena still to come. They could well have their Ulster half-backs playing and we know the impact that Ian Porter and Michael Lowry have had on our team. So, we’re ready for a tough game.”

Eddie O'Sullivan Eddie O'Sullivan's Old Belvo host Old Wesley on Friday night. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Old Belvedere (5th) v Old Wesley (10th), Anglesea Road, Friday 7.30pm

Eddie O’Sullivan has unsurprisingly kept faith with the bulk of the team that secured his first league win as Old Belvedere head coach – a 24-23 nail-biter at UCC last Saturday afternoon.

There are two notable personnel changes up front where 23-year-old French prop Omar Dahir comes in for his first league start in ‘Belvo colours, while Jack Kelly makes a welcome return to the second row.

James Burton, Stephen Boyle and Aaron Atkinson, the former Garryowen scrum half, have been bumped up from the Old Wesley bench. Atkinson and Tim Clifford will lead a much-changed Wesley back-line as the basement side target a morale-boosting derby victory.

Ballynahinch (4th) v UL Bohemians (6th), Ballymacarn Park

Ulster Under-19 captain Claytan Milligan, who made his senior debut for Ballynahinch last week, is set to continue at hooker for the visit of UL Bohemians.

27-year-old tighthead Jonny Simpson is the elder statesman in a ‘Hinch front five which also includes Campbell Classon, last year’s Wesley College skipper, and Ireland U-20-capped duo John Donnan and Jack Regan.

Munster half-back James Hart made an immediate impact on his UL Bohemians debut last week and his availability could make or break Bohs’ bid for their third win over ‘Hinch in the space of twelve months.

Naas (2nd) v UCC (7th), Forenaughts

The ever-versatile Fionn Carr and Ross Bailey-Kearney, who touched down twice against Banbridge, are set to pair up at centre for Naas’ round 4 match against UCC tomorrow.

Following last week’s 42-35 loss at Bann, Naas player-coach Johne Murphy returns at out-half and Connacht prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy is set for some game-time off the bench.

Winless UCC could do with a change of luck after being pipped by ‘Belvo in the previous round. They will need a big shift from their young half-backs James Taylor and John Poland, who come up against the wily Murphy and Max Whittingham.

Shannon (1st) v Dolphin (9th), Thomond Park back pitch

A second Munster derby for Shannon to finish off the league’s first block of fixtures, and with home advantage, they should make it four wins from four.

Having won recently in Ballymena, Thomond Park will hold no fear for second-from-bottom Dolphin who are always capable of negating home advantage, especially with Barry Keeshan and Munster prop Brian Scott in the team.

Nonetheless, Tom Hayes’ table-opping Shannon side are a tough nut to crack when their confidence is up. Their Munster Academy scrum half Jack Stafford and sub-Academy lock Ronan Coffey are growing in influence with each passing game.

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