Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated
LANSDOWNE (4th) v CLONTARF (5th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, tonight, 7.30pm
A crunch fixture for these sides. The last two title winners have both stuttered in recent weeks, Lansdowne losing two on the bounce and Clontarf slipping to two defeats in three games.
As well as tighthead and captain Ian Prendiville returning from illness, Lansdowne will have their Leinster ‘A’ contingent back. They definitely need to rediscover their scoring touch from the earlier rounds.
Buoyed by Joey Carbery’s Ireland call-up, Clontarf make the trip across the Liffey after ending a two-match losing streak against Garryowen. They drew the corresponding game last season and are actually chasing their first win over Lansdowne in seven league meetings, stretching back to April 2014.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLL; Clontarf: WLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 34; Tries: Daniel McEvoy, Joe McSwiney 2 each; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 46; Tries: Rob McGrath, Vakh Abdaladze, Tony Ryan, Royce Burke Flynn, Karl Moran, Rob Keogh, Matt D’Arcy 1 each.
GARRYOWEN (6th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd), Dooradoyle
Munster centre Sam Arnold is set to play 40 minutes for Garryowen, his first bit of game-time at any level since injuring his knee in pre-season training.
Arnold and the Light Blues’ back-line will certainly be tested by attack-minded Trinity who are looking for another Limerick scalp after an excellent 32-27 victory over Young Munster last time out.
The students thumped Cambridge University 50-0 last week, with winger Evan Dixon and lock Pierce Dargan bagging a hat-trick each. It was a real ‘team-building’ trip according to director of rugby Tony Smeeth who said ‘the intensity and tempo of playing in Division 1A has definitely been good for us.’
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWL; Dublin University: WLWW.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 33; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne 2; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 44; Tries: Michael Courtney, Colm Hogan 3 each.
OLD BELVEDERE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (7th), Anglesea Road
With Cork Constitution looking in resurgent form, this is real test of Old Belvedere’s potential to be title challengers. ‘Belvo’s biggest winning margin so far has been three points, but that has been enough to send them top of the table.
Out-half Willie Staunton has contributed 51 of their 81 points, making him the division’s top scorer. He nailed six penalties last time out to edge out Terenure College.
Cork Con, who were two-point losers on their last visit to Anglesea Road, returned to winning ways with an 18-point dismissal of Lansdowne. Promising full-back Shane Daly scored a try that day and also crossed during last week’s 57-10 Munster Senior Cup quarter-final trouncing of Nenagh.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WLWW; Cork Constitution: WLLW.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 51; Tries: Shane McDonald 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 34; Tries: Shane Daly 3
YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd) v UCD (9th), Tom Clifford Park
Young Munster face student opposition for the second successive round, but three of their top performers this season – Abrie Griesel, Robin Copeland and Dan Goggin – are absent due to Munster duty.
The Cookies were stung by a late try away to Trinity, going down 32-27, and return to their Greenfields stronghold where they have won eight of their last nine Division 1A games.
After three successive weeks of Leinster ‘A’ fixtures, UCD boss Andy Skehan will have a reinforced squad to pick from as College aim for their first win in three outings. They were understandably proud of new Ireland call-ups Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose and James Tracy who, not too long ago, were lining out at Belfield.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWL; UCD: LWLL.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 27; Tries: Dan Walsh, Robin Copeland, Rob Guerin 2 each; UCD: Points: Tim Foley 17; Tries: Stephen Murphy, Greg Jones, Peadar Timmins, Jamie Glynn, Jimmy O’Brien, Tom Fletcher, James Ryan, Harry McNulty, Andy Marks 1 each.
TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Lakelands Park, 3pm
The kick-off has been pushed back to accommodate what is always a bumper crowd for this Dublin 6W derby. Terenure did the double on St. Mary’s in their most recent league meetings (2014/15), a season in which they reached the semi-finals.
Neither team have looked like last-four material so far in the current campaign, although Mary’s two wins and a losing bonus point have them two positions better off than bottom-placed ‘Nure.
As ever, the local bragging rights may hinge on the place-kicking prowess of Terenure’s top scorer Jake Swaine (28 points) and Mary’s out-half Sean Kearns, who has accumulated 47 of their 77 points to date and struck up a good partnership with new number 9 Paddy O’Driscoll.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWL; St. Mary’s College: LWLW.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 28; Tries: Jake Swaine 3; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: Sean Kearns, Brian McGovern, Paddy O’Driscoll, Ian O’Neill, Mark Fogarty, Kevin Sheahan, Cathal O’Flaherty 1 each.
BALLYNAHINCH (5th) v NAAS (6th), Ballymacarn Park
Two wins at home and two defeats on the road so far for Ballynahinch, who most recently took a step closer to an Ulster Senior Cup three in-a-row by reaching next month’s semi-finals.
Naas will be undaunted by the trip to Co. Down having already picked up a losing bonus point at Ballymena and registering a 14-10 win at Shannon last time out.
‘Hinch will have a number of players back from Ulster ‘A’ duty and that strength in depth, combined with home advantage, should see them come out on top against Johne Murphy’s men.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: WLWL; Naas: WLLW.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Ballynahinch: Points: Johnny McPhillips, Jordan Grattan 15 each; Tries: Jordan Grattan 3; Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 26; Tries: Fionn Carr 2.
DOLPHIN (9th) v BUCCANEERS (2nd), Irish Independent Park
Buccaneers go on the Halloween hunt in Cork, eager to avenge last season’s two defeats to Dolphin. The hosts triumphed 24-23 at this venue almost a year to the day, with Munster’s Rory Scannell kicking four penalties.
While Scannell has since pushed on with the province, assistant coach Barry Keeshan’s left boot remains as accurate as ever, the veteran out-half garnering 28 points in his last two games.
However, if influential forwards Saba Meunargia and Rory Moloney are passed fit, and Buccs provide the division’s leading try scorer Jordan Conroy (five tries) with enough ball, the Athlone men should claim their fourth victory in a row.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dolphin: LLWL; Buccaneers: LWWW.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 30; Tries: Cameron O’Shaughnessy, Barry Fitzgerald, Dave O’Mahony, Karl Keogh, Ryan Murphy 1 each; Buccaneers: Points: Conor McKeon 34; Tries: Jordan Conroy 5.
OLD WESLEY (4th) v GALWEGIANS (7th), Donnybrook
Galwegians gave a really good account of themselves against leaders UL Bohemians in the previous round, a dominant final quarter including a try from debutant winger Matthew Quinn.
It is a performance to build on, particularly with their Connacht Eagles players returning from British & Irish Cup action. Their hosts Old Wesley were 34-33 winners on ‘Wegians’ last visit to Donnybrook in November 2012 when brothers Conor and Ivan Muldoon were in the westerners’ pack.
Wesley had a similar result two weeks ago, beating Ballynahinch 35-32 in a rip-roaring contest. They have the firepower to keep up their winning form on home soil, especially with the division’s top scorer Barry McLaughlin (55 points) and four-try centre Ger Finucane converting chances.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Wesley: WWLW; Galwegians: LWLL.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 55; Tries: Ger Finucane 4; Galwegians: Points: Mitch Lam 22; Tries: Aidan Moynihan 2
UCC (8th) v SHANNON (10th), the Mardyke
A week on from Shannon legend Anthony Foley’s emotional send-off, the Parish club return to league action with a huge desire to end their current losing streak.
Beating teams in the lower reaches is a must if Shannon are to rid themselves of the basement tag. With three losing bonus points in the bank, a win over UCC could see them climb above the students and get a timely jolt of confidence.
UCC will not be too welcoming, though, as Ballymena found out to their detriment four weeks ago. The Cork youngsters, who have flanker Conor Barry (three tries) as their top try scorer, need a much-improved defensive display after leaking 49 points to Buccs last time out.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCC: LLWL; Shannon: LLLL.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - UCC: Points: Kevin O’Keeffe 38; Tries: Conor Barry 3; Shannon: Points: Ronan McKenna 26; Tries: Ronan McKenna, Riley Winter, Shane Mullally, Lee Nicholas 1 each.
UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v BALLYMENA (3rd), University of Limerick 4G pitch
Two central figures for both clubs during the first four rounds will be missing tomorrow, UL Bohemians’ talismanic scrum half Cathal Sheridan (fractured leg) and Ballymena’s top-scoring centre Mark Best who injured his thumb in B&I Cup action for Ulster ‘A’.
Key for the third-placed Braidmen will be cutting off the supply of ball to UL’s exciting back-line who, between them, have run in 15 tries in 320 minutes of rugby.
The quality of Ballymena’s pack, especially their athletic back row, could swing the forwards battle in their favour, but UL’s enviable attacking armoury should guide them to win number five. Kiwi top scorer Rick McKenna moves to scrum half to replace Sheridan, with Robbie Bourke in the number 10 shirt.
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UL Bohemians: WWWW; Ballymena: WWLW.
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - UL Bohemians: Points: Rick McKenna 47; Tries: Jamie McNamara 4; Ballymena: Points: Mark Best 32; Tries: Mark Best 3.
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