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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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Here are your division 1A and 1B Ulster Bank League previews

A top-of-the-table clash between Lansdowne and Clontarf is the pick of this week’s action.

DIVISION 1A

CORK CONSTITUTION (9th) v BALLYNAHINCH (6th)

Temple Hill

Gerry Hurley leads out the Cork Constitution team Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

SURELY CORK CONSTITUTION will break their winning duck at the third attempt? The Leesiders are second-from-bottom in the table after losing to Old Belvedere and leaders Lansdowne.

Late tries from Niall Kenneally and James Murphy showed what they can do against Lansdowne, and a more complete performance at their Temple Hill base should be enough to beat Ballynahinch.

Thanks to their comeback victory over ‘Belvo, ‘Hinch have climbed to sixth and Con must keep tabs on winger Ross Adair, whose three tries make him Division 1A’s top try scorer so far.

LANSDOWNE (1st) v CLONTARF (2nd)

Aviva Stadium main pitch

There is huge interest in this early season top-of-the-table clash as pacesetters Lansdowne host defending champions Clontarf on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch.

Neither has hit top form just yet with ‘Tarf guilty of some sluggish starts and Lansdowne struggling to see off 14-man Cork Con in the closing stages last Saturday.

Scott Deasy (26 points) and David Joyce (29) have led the way for their respective sides in the opening two rounds. Expect more of the same from the opposing out-halves, with Deasy’s Lansdowne looking the safer bet.

OLD BELVEDERE (4th) v ST MARY’S COLLEGE (8th)

Anglesea Road

Leo AuvaÕa Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

St. Mary’s College have played well in fits and starts so far without getting a win. Being overhauled by local rivals Terenure College last week must have hurt.

They need to get more out of a back-line led by Leinster prospect Cathal Marsh. The same can be said for hosts Old Belvedere whose only try against Ballynahinch had a touch of good fortune about it.

‘Belvo are unbeaten in their last four league clashes with Mary’s — three wins and a draw — but their Dublin rivals have enough quality to edge this latest battle.

TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (7th)

Lakelands Park

A familiar face will be plotting the downfall of high-flying Terenure College when Young Munster make their second trip of the season to the capital.

Former ‘Nure out-half Willie Staunton played a key role in Munster’s maiden win at home to UCD last week, with youngsters Dan Goggin, Diarmaid Dee and David O’Mahony also standing out.

But Terenure have turned Lakelands into a real fortress and their ability to ‘kick on’ in the second half has been decisive so far against Ballynahinch and St Mary’s. Will the Cookies be the third team to crumble?

UCD (5th) v DOLPHIN (10th)

Belfield

UCD team Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Dolphin gave it a really good crack against title holders Clontarf, breaking into a 13-point lead before eventually losing by a six-point margin.

Steve Ford’s side are better than their position of 10th suggests, with the Quill cousins — lock Brian and flanker John — part of an ever-improving pack.

UCD will have learned some harsh lessons from their reversal at Young Munster. If they can tighten up defensively and keep their discipline, the students should make it two wins out of three.

DIVISION 1B

BALLYMENA (2nd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th)

Eaton Park

Ballymena’s increased squad depth this season was visible during the second half of their derby win at Belfast Harlequins, with former Ulster and Ireland prop Bryan Young coming on as a replacement.

Their head coach Andy Graham singled out influential back rower Stephen Mulholland for special praise after the opening two rounds.

They should make it three straight wins against a Dublin University side short on experience, which was a key factor in the students losing a game they should have won against UL Bohs last week.

GALWEGIANS (1st) v UL BOHEMIANS (3rd)

Crowley Park

Galwegians players Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

First plays third at Crowley Park and a good benchmark of where both clubs are at present. Galwegians have to be fancied to extend their winning run, especially with winger Jerome Harimate already chasing his fourth try.

UL Bohs were not overly impressive in their two wins to date. Out-half Shane Airey has kicked 18 of their 38 points.

Galwegians owe their Limerick visitors one after losing twice to them in 2012. This is their first meeting since then and a home victory should be chalked down.

GARRYOWEN (4th) v CORINTHIANS (6th)

Dooradoyle

Despite a fine recovery after the break, Garryowen were let down by a poor first half away to Buccaneers and cannot afford a repeat at home to Corinthians.

Corinthians got back on track thanks to a fine bonus point victory over Malone, with captain James Buckley and man-of-the-match Eoghan Masterson among the tries.

Garryowen are without winger Cian O’Shea who has made a work-related move to Old Wesley. However, James Frawley stepped up with a brace against Buccs and the Light Blues, man for man, hold the aces in this round 3 tie.

MALONE (5th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (8th)

Gibson Park

Ben Alexander in action with Neil McComb Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

A feisty Belfast duel awaits at Gibson Park. It is Belfast Harlequins’ second Ulster derby in seven days after losing at home to Ballymena (22-14).

Notably, last season’s two games were won by the away team on the day — ‘Quins were 25-15 winners at Malone and Jacques Benade’s men returned the favour (25-14) in March.

Malone picked up a late losing bonus point at Corinthians last Saturday and boast a potential match winner in goal-kicking centre Josh Pentland, who is the division’s current top scorer with 28 points.

SHANNON (10th) v BUCCANEERS (7th)

Coonagh

Buccaneers face Limerick opposition for the second week running, having built some decent momentum thanks to a hard-earned win over Garryowen.

A similarly consistent display should be good enough to see off bottom side Shannon who lost twice to the Pirates last season, including a 29-10 beating at Coonagh.

The Limerick giants can be too reliant on place-kicker Tadhg Bennett for scores, so it was good to see Ciaran Cunnane, Ruairi O’Donnell and Connor Cunnane cross for tries against Galwegians. They will also take heart from the fact that Buccs conceded 51 points in the first two rounds.

Murray named as captain as Munster get set for table-topping Ospreys>

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