Previews of all today’s Division 1A/1B games.
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated -
BALLYNAHINCH (7th) v UCD (8th), Ballymacarn Park, 2.30pm
Two teams that suffered tight defeats in the opening round, with Ballynahinch paying the price for a sloppy second half at Garryowen.
Former Ulster player David McIlwaine is back on the left wing for ’Hinch with ex-Belfast Harlequin Willie Stewart in the centre. The hosts will be hoping for more from new signing Manihera Eden and Ireland Sevens ace Aaron Cairns at half-back.
UCD’s pack, and their scrum in particular, had a very good outing against Clontarf, but better cohesion in the back-line will be required if Barry Daly and Billy Dardis are to threaten out wide.
CORK CONSTITUTION (6th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Temple Hill, 4.30pm
Former Cork Constitution duo Scott Deasy and Philip Donnellan return to Temple Hill having helped Lansdowne make a winning start to their title defence last week.
Second row Donnellan was part of a well conditioned pack that put Young Munster to the sword in the second half of a 29-6 victory. Cork Con, meanwhile, are smarting from a 12-11 reversal at Galwegians.
Twelve months ago, at this same venue, Constitution outscored Lansdowne by two tries to one only for out-half Deasy to land a decisive injury-time penalty. Could the script be written for the former Munster player to repeat the trick in another tight tussle?
TERENURE COLLEGE (9th) v GALWEGIANS (5th), Lakelands Park, 4.30pm
Galwegians head coach Matt Brown will have been buoyed by the manner of their gritty one-point triumph over top flight regulars Cork Con last Saturday.
Now eyeing up a Dublin scalp, Brown said: "We’re stepping into the unknown (in Division 1A). There’s a lot of recruitment that’s gone on in and around Dublin. It might take us a little while to adjust, but fingers crossed we’re got the right talent to compete with these sides."
Terenure’s error count was high as they succumbed to in-form Old Belvedere (27-8). They were missing some key players through injury, including James Thornton and Ian Hanly, and will want to put that forgettable performance behind them at ’fortress Lakelands’.
DOLPHIN (10th) v BALLYMENA (4th), Musgrave Park, 1pm
There were contrasting fortunes for Dolphin and Ballymena last week. It was a real baptism of fire for new Dolphin boss Feargus O’Donoghue as his side crashed to St. Mary’s (46-10).
This will be the clubs’ first meeting since January 2009 and Ballymena travel south on the back of a 27-23 derby success against Belfast Harlequins. Lock David Whann impressed with the clinching try and a rewarding day in the lineout.
Dolphin struggled to convert pressure into points against Mary’s, and will need big performances from the likes of Cian Bohane and captain John Fitzgerald to avoid a second loss.
BELFAST HARLEQUINS (7th) v UL BOHEMIANS (9th), Deramore Park, 1.30pm
Two of the losing sides from the opening round meet. Belfast Harlequins’ resilient performance at Ballymena points to a home win here for Adam Larkin’s men.
Winger David McMaster tallied up two tries against the Braidmen and with Ulster pair Lewis Stevenson and Neil McComb in the engine room, ’Quins have plenty of grunt up front.
It was not a happy return to UL for full-back Cian Aherne as they were comprehensively beaten by Old Wesley (33-5) in their opener. A losing bonus point may be their best hope from this trip to Deramore.
OLD WESLEY (2nd) v BUCCANEERS (3rd), Donnybrook, 4.30pm
One of the ties of the round in the top two divisions as Old Wesley, who recorded a runaway 33-5 win at UL Bohemians, host a Buccaneers side making promising strides under new boss Brett Wilkinson.
Notably, the Old Wesley squad contains five ex-Buccaneers - including cousins Billy Henshaw and Conor Fitzgibbon - so the Pirates will be extra keen to plunder the league points.
Donnybrook’s artificial surface should suit both sides, with elusive centre Billy Ngawini making his home bow for Wesley, and Buccs’ Connacht-capped full-back Shane Layden likely to be prominent in attack too.
SHANNON (8th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th), Coonagh, 4.30pm
Not the start that Shannon would have wanted under Marcus Horan, as Shane Mullaney’s first half try was their only real highlight of a 21-11 defeat at Buccaneers.
Blackrock shone at key stages under the Stradbrook floodlights, taking the points from Dublin University’s grasp thanks to a late penalty from full-back Mark Scott-Lennon.
Backing up that result could prove difficult on the road, especially if Shannon can call on the services of teenage winger Stephen Fitzgerald who enjoyed a try-scoring debut for Munster last Sunday.
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