This Munster derby is shaping up to be one of the games of the day. Cork Constitution and Garryowen are both pushing hard for the play-offs, lying fourth and fifth respectively.
Con could gain significant ground by defeating Garryowen and looked in rude health last week when thrashing high-flying UCD 58-15 in Dublin. Young hooker Max Abbott is one to watch, with three tries in his last four outings.
It took a late Alex Wootton try to steer Garryowen past Con in September, but winning away from home has been an issue with just one victory in seven road trips so far this season.
Last week’s 42-25 dismissal of play-off rivals Young Munster was a clear indication of Clontarf’s drive to go one better than last year and lift the league title.
The new table toppers are on a four-match winning streak and although Ballymacarn Park is a tough place to win, ‘Tarf are in a rich vein of form.
Although their recent record shows just one win in six matches, Galwegians have been strong on their home patch with the likes of Cork Con, Lansdowne, Young Munster and Garryowen all coming a-cropper. A big performance here could be vital in steering them clear of that relegation play-off spot,
Almost every encounter in the top flight this weekend is a crunch fixture, and this one particularly so. After losing away to 14-man Garryowen, Terenure really need a quick ‘pick me up’ result. Getting up to the levels they produced against UCD recently is a must.
Third plays host to second in an intriguing match-up, with Young Munster getting a dose of home comfort after a heavy beating at Clontarf, and UCD scrapping for a positive result after three losses in four games. UCD slipped off top spot following last week’s hugely deflating 58-15 defeat to Cork Con, and will have to dig deep as they strive to become the first away team to win at Clifford Park since Con themselves (6-3) 13 months ago.
Only six points separate the clubs in ninth, eighth and seventh, and two of them meet today as Dolphin entertain second-from-bottom UL Bohs in Cork.
Both of them lost last time out, Dolphin being pipped by Old Wesley in a 61-point cliff hanger and UL Bohs falling away in the second half against Trinity.
St. Mary’s College look in unstoppable form at present with 11 wins on the trot, but this trip down to Thomond Park is a potential banana skin. After losing to Ballymena, Shannon are eight points adrift of the top four and a promotion play-off spot. Turning over the league leaders is a must if they are stay in mathematical contention.
Belfast Harlequins are all but relegated at this stage, sitting rock bottom and trailing UL Bohemians by 14 points with three rounds remaining. However, they have pushed better teams close in some of the games, so Wesley will take nothing for granted.
Fifth-placed Buccaneers are banking on a win away to Blackrock in order to keep the pressure on Old Wesley in the battle for a top four finish.
It could be a two-horse race for automatic promotion if Dublin University see off Ballymena’s challenge at College Park where the students have lost just once this season.