Ul­ster Bank League: Tonight’s ac­tion

Irish Examiner - Sport - - RUGBY -

(7.30pm un­less stated)

CLON­TARF (3rd) v LANS­DOWNE (1st), Cas­tle Av­enue: With teams jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion in the top four, this will be good early sea­son in­di­ca­tor of where two of the peren­nial ti­tle chal­lengers are at. Both Andy Wood and Mike Rud­dock con­tinue to nur­ture young ta­lent and give them op­por­tu­ni­ties at his level, with Clon­tarf’s Sean O’brien and Cor­mac Daly and Lans­downe’s Harry Bren­nan and Jack O’sul­li­van all im­press­ing in re­cent rounds.

There are im­por­tant Ul­ster Bank League points as well as the Le­in­ster Se­nior League Cup tro­phy on the line tonight. ‘Tarf won last sea­son’s cor­re­spond­ing Di­vi­sion 1A fix­ture 12-3, but given their cur­rent form, Rud­dock’s side will take some dis­lodg­ing from the top spot.

GARRYOWEN (5th) v YOUNG MUN­STER (6th), Dooradoyle: Lim­er­ick brag­ging rights in the top flight are up for grabs as Garryowen, fresh from giv­ing Lans­downe a tough test in the cap­i­tal, host resur­gent Young Mun­ster. The Light Blues could have Mun­ster’s David John­ston back from a dead leg, while ex­pe­ri­enced hooker Mike Sherry con­tin­ues to get game-time as part of re­ju­ve­nated Garryowen pack. With two wins in the past fort­night, Young Mun­ster are be­gin­ning to mo­tor. Cap­tain Ben Kilkenny, Gavin Coombes and Daniel Hur­ley have each scored three tries in the last four rounds.

ST. MARY’S COL­LEGE (8th) v DUBLIN UNIVER­SITY (9th), Tem­pleville Road: Mary’s have leaked a stag­ger­ing 84 points to Lans­downe and Young Mun­ster and fallen to eighth over­all. Poor tack­ling and a lack of in­ten­sity was ev­i­dent in their 55-7 loss to Mun­sters. Although Trin­ity were held try-less by Cork Con­sti­tu­tion last Satur­day, go­ing down 28-3, they seem to be on an up­ward curve. They could face three for­mer play­ers in the Mary’s line-up - Tim Maupin, Jack Dil­ger and Nick Mccarthy, who cap­tained the stu­dents in their pro­mo­tion-win­ning 2015/16 cam­paign.

TERENURE COL­LEGE (2nd) v UCD (7th), Lake­lands Park: Even if they are not get­ting re­sults cur­rently, UCD are stay­ing com­pet­i­tive with three los­ing bonus points earned in the last four rounds. Andy Ske­han’s se­lec­tion should be strength­ened this week with no pro­vin­cial or Ire­land Sevens ac­tion. Sec­ond-placed Terenure would gladly take a re­peat of last year’s 31-24 home win over the stu­dents. ‘Nure’s South African prop Schalk Jooste, Alex Thomp­son and Sam Cogh­lan Mur­ray caught the eye in their lat­est Lake­lands tri­umph against Buc­ca­neers. Top scorer Mark O’neill (59 points) should come back in after sit­ting out last week’s game.

UCC (5th) v DOL­PHIN (10th), the Mardyke: Two for­mer Dol­phin favourites, Cian Bohane and Ryan Mur­phy, will line out for UCC against their old club in this ea­gerly-awaited Cork derby. It was one away win apiece last sea­son, but the stu­dents, un­der new coach Brian Walsh, look stronger this term with cen­tres Bohane and Mur­ray Linn scor­ing six tries be­tween them.

Dol­phin are miss­ing Bar­bar­ians’ debu­tant Brian Scott in the front row. Although they have only posted one win to date, Barry Kee­shan and com­pany are al­ways dan­ger­ous in a one-off bat­tle for lo­cal brag­ging rights. BALLYMENA (7th) v BALLYNAHINCH (2nd), Ea­ton Park, 8pm: Sec­ond-placed Ballynahinch’s visit to Ballymena tops the bills as one of five Ul­ster der­bies in the league this week­end. The Braid­men have yet to win at home, go­ing down to Dol­phin, Ban­bridge and UCC. Ul­ster’s Clive Ross and Mar­cus Rea will start in Ballymena’s back row tonight, with Ire­land Un­der-18 Sevens cap­tain Angus Ker­nohan - the scorer of two tries against UCC - joined by the ex­pe­ri­enced Alan Smyth back at cen­tre. Ballynahinch, who re­turn to Ea­ton Park for next week’s Ul­ster Se­nior Cup semi-fi­nal, look the stronger team on pa­per with Ul­ster’s Jonny Simp­son, David Busby, Aaron Cairns, Johnny Mcphillips and Jack Re­gan set to be in­volved.

Words: Dave Mervyn

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