12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated -
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OLD BELVEDERE (8th) v CLONTARF (3rd), Anglesea Road, Friday, March 1, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Old Belvedere: LLLWWWLLLLLL; Clontarf: LLWWLWWLWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 72; Tries: Daniel Riordan 6; Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 93; Tries: Michael McGrath 8
Preview: Life does not get any easier for Old Belvedere. Currently third from bottom, they are now just two points ahead of UL Bohemians and four in front of Shannon in last place.
Shannon's recent revival has made those sides just above them increasingly nervous. Their 28-17 home victory over Old Belvedere last weekend has really put the pressure on the Anglesea Road side.
Old Belvedere badly need to stop the rot with a victory over Clontarf. But that is going to very difficult against a Clontarf outfit that has recently found its form to move up to third spot in the table.
Last Saturday's 35-10 demolition of Young Munster, with in-from winger Michael McGrath getting two tries, was particularly impressive.
One piece of much-needed encouragement for Old Belvedere is that they very nearly beat Clontarf at Castle Avenue earlier this season, only losing 14-13 to a late score. Watch out for highlights of Old Belvedere v Clontarf on Irish Rugby TV next week.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, February 11, 2012: Old Belvedere 13 Clontarf 25, Anglesea Road; Friday, November 30, 2012: Clontarf 14 Old Belvedere 13, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 6-10 points
DOLPHIN (7th) v UL BOHEMIANS (9th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Dolphin: LWWWLLWLLLL; UL Bohemians: LWLWLLLLWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 94; Tries: Harry Fleming 3; UL Bohemians: Points: Ben Martin 45; Tries: Mossy Lawler 4
Preview: A big match at the wrong end of the table. Dolphin, four from bottom, are up against UL Bohs in second last place.
Currently, Dolphin are four points clear of their rivals. While they do have a game in hand, a defeat here could bring them right into the relegation battle.
But Dolphin are surely a better side than their league position indicates. They have come out on the wrong end of some very tight matches lately including last weekend's 20-18 away defeat to St. Mary's when they outscored their rivals two tries to one.
UL Bohs, by contrast, are going through a very tough time just now. Their supporters are entitled to be very worried following last Friday night's 38-3 hammering at the hands of Garryowen.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, March 6, 2010: UL Bohemians 14 Dolphin 32, Thomond Park; Saturday, December 1, 2012: UL Bohemians 9 Dolphin 19, Annacotty
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 1-5 points
LANSDOWNE (1st) v YOUNG MUNSTER (4th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Lansdowne: WWWLWWLWWWWW; Young Munster: WWLLWLWWWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 146; Tries: Cian Aherne 10; Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 101; Tries: Darragh O'Neill 4
Preview: Definitely the match of the day. Lansdowne, now 12 points clear at the top, would appear to the the league title within the sights.
Last Saturday's 34-14 away victory, which saw Craig Ronaldson contribute 19 points, was hugely impressive. Significantly, head coach Mike Ruddock seems to be able to get the best out of his line-up, no matter who is available.
Young Munster, however, are one of just two clubs to have beaten Lansdowne during the current campaign. They deservedly did so 16-15 at Tom Clifford Park at the start of December.
But last weekend's 35-10 defeat was a big setback, leaving them in fourth spot 15 points adrift of the leaders with a game in hand.
Still, Lansdowne saw enough in their first meeting to appreciate that nothing can ever be taken for granted against their Limerick opponents.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, March 31, 2012: Lansdowne 44 Young Munster 18, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Young Munster 16 Lansdowne 15, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
SHANNON (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (5th), Coonagh
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Shannon: LLLLLLLWLWLW; Cork Constitution: WLWWWLWLWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Shannon: Points: Rob Guerin 65; Tries: John Shine, James Loxton 3 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 92; Tries: Gerry Hurley 4
Preview: Suddenly life has begun to look up for Shannon. Following their 28-17 victory over Old Belvedere, they are at last in with a real chance of moving clear of the bottom spot.
They trail UL Bohemians by just two points and Old Belvedere by four. So, a win over Cork Constitution with some of the other results going their way, could see them in even better shape.
Much clearly will depend on what Cork Con bring to the table. In recent weeks they have struggled, trailing 34-0 to Lansdowne at one stage before getting a couple of late consolation tries.
Furthermore, they have lost their talented flanker Brian O'Hara to a broken leg. No doubt, they will show an improvement but Shannon, in their current mood, are definitely in with a chance.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, March 24, 2012: Shannon 9 Cork Constitution 19, Coonagh; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Cork Constitution 23 Shannon 15, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE (6th) v GARRYOWEN (2nd), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - St. Mary's College: WLLLLWLWLWWW; Garryowen: WWWLWWWWLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - St. Mary's College: Points: Gavin Dunne 86; Tries: Matthew D'Arcy 4; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 89; Tries: Conan Doyle 5
Preview: Although the 12-point gap at the top appears too much, second-placed Garryowen have to continue to look for victories and hope that Lansdowne somehow slip up.
Their form in demolishing UL Bohemians 38-3 was much more encouraging. In truth, they did not play badly when losing away to Lansdowne on their last visit to Dublin.
But this is a very tough test. St. Mary's are in a false position in the table and have a place-kicker in Gavin Dunne who will punish Garryowen at every opportunity.
Then again, Garryowen have plenty of strike power themselves having scored five tries in their big victory over UL Bohs. It promises to be a very competitive battle.
Recent League Meetings - Saturday, February 4, 2012: St. Mary's College 13 Garryowen 12, Templeville Road; Saturday, December 1, 2012: Garryowen 28 St. Mary's College 20, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points