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David Joyce of Clontarf scored 20 points earlier this season against tonight's opponents UCD

David Joyce of Clontarf scored 20 points earlier this season against tonight's opponents UCD

SPORTSFILE

David Joyce of Clontarf scored 20 points earlier this season against tonight's opponents UCD

UCD v Clontarf, Belfield, Tonight, 7.30

League leaders Clontarf slipped to just their second defeat of the season against Cork Con in their last match and face another tough test against Dublin neighbours UCD this evening.

Clontarf have already beaten the students (25-16) back in early November. Out-half David Joyce (right) scored 20 points that evening and since then has gone from strength to strength.

Joyce was instrumental in the Ireland Club XV's win over their Scottish counterparts last weekend and he will again be pivotal if Clontarf are to maintain top spot.

Their slip-up to Cork Con has allowed Old Belvedere to draw level on points with them and they now know that they can ill afford another defeat in this evening's clash.

Despite having plenty of talent in their ranks, UCD have struggled for consistency this season. Having won promotion from Division 1B last year, they have consolidated their place in the top flight, but certainly have enough quality to improve on their sixth place position.

The league's top try scorer Michael McGrath will be an obvious threat to UCD. The prolific winger has scored 10 tries in 11 league games.

The defeat to Con brought to an end a run of nine straight wins for Clontarf. Andy Wood's side showed plenty of bottle when they lost to Old Belvedere in their first game of the season and if they are to claim their first ever title, they will need to show similar levels of consistency.

Prediction: Clontarf

BASEMENT BATTLE

Garryowen picked up their first league win of the season against fellow strugglers Ballynahinch in their last outing.

It has been well documented that Eddie O'Sullivan (right) has joined the Limerick club in an advisory role and the early signs have been positive. However, they remain rooted to the bottom of the table and will need to continue that form against Young Munster tomorrow.

Ballynahinch, meanwhile, take on high-flying Old Belvedere. The Northern side have won just twice this season, but will be looking to make home advantage count in their survival bid.

WEEKEND DERBIES

Four of the five games in Division 1A are derbies. Not only are local bragging rights at stake, but with the majority of teams having just seven games remaining, points are precious.

Cork Con will be looking to exact revenge for their defeat to Dolphin earlier in the season, while Garryowen will be looking to do the same against Young Munster. St Mary's narrowly lost out to Lansdowne in their previous meeting, while UCD also suffered defeat against Clontarf in November.

NUMBER OF THE DAY

1 Terenure College are the only team across all four divisions to boast a 100pc winning record. They will look to make it 12 wins from 12 games in Division 1B when they welcome Belfast Harlequins to Lakelands Park tomorrow.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE FIXTURES

(Saturday 2.30 unless stated)

Division 1A

Cork Constitution v Dolphin, Temple Hill (tonight, 7.30); Lansdowne v St. Mary's College, Aviva Stadium (tonight, 7.30); UCD v Clontarf, Belfield (tonight, 7.30); Ballynahinch v Old Belvedere, Ballymacarn; Young Munster v Garryowen, Tom Clifford Park.

Division 1B

Buccaneers v Dublin University, Dubarry Park; Corinthians v Blackrock College, Corinthian Park; Dungannon v Shannon, Stevenson Park; Terenure College v Belfast Harlequins, Lakelands Park; UL Bohemians v Malone, UL 4G (3.00).

Division 2A

Ballymena v Bective Rangers, Eaton Park; Cashel RFC v NUIM Barnhall, Spafield; Galwegians v Naas, Crowley Park; Highfield v Banbridge, Woodleigh Park; Old Wesley v City of Derry, Donnybrook; Queens University v Rainey OB, Dub Lane; Seapoint v Bruff, Kilbogget Park; UCC v Old Crescent, The Mardyke.

Division 2B

Navan RFC v DLSP, Balreask Old (tonight, 7.30); Armagh v Suttonians, Palace Grounds; Boyne v Middleton, Shamrock Lodge; Greystones v Ards, Dr Hickey Park; Instonians v Tullamore, Shaws Bridge; Skerries v Sundays Well, Holmpatrick; Sligo v Richmond, Hamilton Park; Thomond v Nenagh Ormond, Liam Fitzgerald Park.

Irish Independent