Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated -
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GARRYOWEN (3rd) v UL BOHEMIANS (9th), Dooradoyle, Friday, February 22, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Garryowen: WWWLWWWWLLL; UL Bohemians: LWLWLLLLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 89; Tries: Barry O'Mahony, Conan Doyle 4 each; UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan, Ben Martin 42 each; Tries: Mossy Lawler 4
Preview: Garryowen are hoping to end of a run of three successive defeats in this Friday night local derby at Dooradoyle.
It is a run which has seen them drop to third place in the table, some 12 points behind leaders Lansdowne. To all intents and purposes, their title ambitions would seem to have gone.
But they must keep going in the hope that Lansdowne somehow slip up and beating UL Bohemians would be a good start.
To be fair, Garryowen played well without gaining any reward in their 34-22 away defeat to Lansdowne last weekend.
A repeat effort should in theory be good enough to secure a victory over UL Bohs but it is far from straightforward.
UL Bohs did, after all, upset Garryowen 16-12 earlier in league and they will be absolutely desperate for a victory to ease their relegation worries.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, March 27, 2010: Garryowen 13 UL Bohemians 16, Dooradoyle; Friday, November 2, 2012: UL Bohemians 16 Garryowen 12, Thomond Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points
CLONTARF (4th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Clontarf: LLWWLWWLWLW; Young Munster: WWLLWLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 78; Tries: Michael McGrath 6; Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 101; Tries: Darragh O'Neill 4
Preview: Big test for Young Munster. If they are to close the gap on the leaders Lansdowne you would have to think that they must win matches like this.
Then again, digging out victories is what Young Munster are good at. They did it to beat Old Belvedere in injury-time and again when getting the better of Dolphin 13-10 last weekend.
Huge credit must go to director of rugby Mike Prendergast for the run which has seen them move back into second in the table with a game in hand.
Prendergast will realise that Young Munster will have to continue to show a lot of character if they are to win at Castle Avenue.
There is absolutely no danger of him underestimating the task facing his side, especially as Clontarf have already beaten Young Munster 18-11 down at Tom Clifford Park this season.
Although Clontarf are out of the title race, they would like nothing better than completing the double over their rivals.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, March 24, 2012: Young Munster 17 Clontarf 24, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Young Munster 11 Clontarf 18, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Cork Constitution: WLWWWLWLWWL; Lansdowne: WWWLWWLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 88; Tries: Darragh Lyons, Ivan Dineen, Gerry Hurley 3 each; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 127; Tries: Cian Aherne 10
Preview: Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock will be attempting to get a monkey off his back when he brings the leaders to Temple Hill.
In two seasons he has never coached a winning team against Cork Con. Lansdowne lost twice in the league to Constitution last season and were defeated 25-22 at home by Brian Walsh’s team earlier in the current campaign.
It was a game which saw Cork Con stage a remarkable comeback to snatch a dramatic late victory. Unfortunately, their form has lacked consistency at times since.
Last weekend, for example, they were beaten 30-12 at home by St. Mary’s College. They will obviously need to improve considerably on that effort if they are to handle an in-form Lansdowne side that has now moved 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, January 28, 2012: Cork Constitution 19 Lansdowne 13, Temple Hill; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Lansdowne 22 Cork Constitution 25, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (10th) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Thomond Park
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Shannon: LLLLLLLWLWL; Old Belvedere: LLLWWWLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Shannon: Points: Rob Guerin 62; Tries: John Shine 3; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 65; Tries: Daniel Riordan 6
Preview: A game that is bound to go some way to deciding the relegation issue. Nothing is going right for Old Belvedere just now.
They are third last, just a point ahead of UL Bohs after losing 13-9 to them last weekend. Bottom-placed Shannon are now seven points behind Old Belvedere.
So, if the Limerick side can manage a victory, they could be right on the heels of the two sides above them. It is a huge incentive for a Shannon outfit that has at last begun to show signs of an improvement.
Although they lost 32-17 away to Clontarf last weekend, they were in the game for long periods and scored three tries. Old Belvedere are capable of playing some very good rugby but they desperately need a victory to restore confidence.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, March 31, 2012: Old Belvedere 31 Shannon 16, Anglesea Road; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Old Belvedere 45 Shannon 13, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE (6th) v DOLPHIN (7th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - St. Mary's College: WLLLLWLWLWW; Dolphin: LWWWLLWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - St. Mary's College: Points: Gavin Dunne 71; Tries: Matthew D'Arcy 3; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 86; Tries: Harry Fleming 3
Preview: The real St. Mary’s appeared at Temple Hill last Saturday when they hammered Cork Constitution 30-12. But they are still in need of points to move clear of the relegation zone.
So, for that matter, do Dolphin. As things stand, St. Mary’s are fifth from bottom, just two points ahead of Dolphin who have a game in hand.
That is something the the current league champions will be desperately keen to rectify. But they can expect a tough battle from a Dolphin outfit which has been losing some very tight matches lately.
Importantly, Gavin Dunne is in outstanding form with the boot for St. Mary’s. His goal-kicking skills may well be needed in what seems sure to be a very competitive struggle.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, February 11, 2012: Dolphin 12 St. Mary's College 8, Musgrave Park; Saturday, November 3, 2012: Dolphin 32 St. Mary's College 14, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary's College to win by 6-10 points