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Division Three Final Preview: Wanderers v Bruff

Division Three Final Preview: Wanderers v Bruff

Will the table toppers be toppled or will first-time finalists Bruff have a fairytale end to their season – IrishRugby.ie previews Saturday’s intriguing AIB League Division Three final between Wanderers and Bruff (Templeville Road, kick-off 2pm).

AIB LEAGUE: Saturday, April 28

DIVISION THREE FINAL:

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WANDERERS v BRUFF, Templeville Road, St. Mary’s College RFC, 2pm
Referee: Colin Stanley (Ulster)

Division Three – League History: Division Three was introduced in September 1993 and has been in operation now for 14 seasons. Twelve different clubs, representing all four provinces, have won the Division Three league series with UCD (1993/94, 1998/99) and Greystones (2001/02, 2004/05) achieving the distinction twice.

The 14 winners have been: UCD (twice), NIFC, Monkstown, Buccaneers, Portadown, Ballynahinch, Thomond, Greystones (twice), Waterpark, Highfield, Clonakilty and Wanderers.

The list includes four clubs from Leinster, three each from Ulster and Munster and two from Connacht. On all 14 occasions, the club finishing first in the Division Three table has been promoted into Division Two for the following season.

Division Three – Play-Off History: The Division Three play-offs were first arranged at the end of the 2001/02 season. The winners have been: Connemara in 2001/02, Wanderers 2002/03, Greystones in 2003/04 and 2004/05 and Clonakilty in 2005/06.

An Ulster club has previously appeared in two Division Three championship finals but has yet to win the title. Three league winners, just promoted, have failed to go on and win the championship – Greystones in 2001/02, Waterpark in 2002/03 and Highfield in 2003/04.

2006/07 DIVISION THREE FINAL – FACTS AND FIGURES:

* Recent form – last five AIB League games (most recent on the left): Wanderers: WWWWW; Bruff: WWWWL
* The regulation AIB League fixture between the two clubs took place in December at Merrion Road – it finished in a 24-10 victory for Wanderers, who outscored their visitors by three tries to one
* Division Three semi-final results – Wanderers 47 Instonians 29, Merrion Road; Ballynahinch 3 Bruff 29, Ballymacarn Park
* Beginning in 2004/05, the two clubs have met three times in the AIB League, all games in Division Three. Wanderers have won two and lost one of those fixtures and they are on a hat-trick of wins over Bruff this weekend
* Saturday marks the third Munster v Leinster Division Three final. Wanderers beat Waterpark 51-5 in 2003 while Clonakilty beat Suttonians 19-12 last year – both games were at Lansdowne Road
* A Leinster club has always appeared in a Division Three championship final. Saturday’s game is the first Division Three final not to be played at Lansdowne Road
* Wanderers have spent two seasons in Division One, ten seasons in Division Two and five seasons in Division Three, while Bruff have played three seasons in Division Three after winning the 2003/04 AIB League Round Robin series at the third time of asking
* Wanderers won the Division Three championship in 2002/03 and the league series this season, while Bruff won the All-Ireland Under-20 championship in 2000/01 and were runners-up the following season
* The AIB League Division Three winners will receive a Union plaque and 25 medals. Both finalists will receive a cash prize

WANDERERS have won six and lost one of their away games in the AIB League and AIB Cup this season. Their only league loss was against Rainey Old Boys (16-15) in Magherafelt in October. The final is their fifth league game against a Munster club this season and they have won all four previous ties.

They have played 59 league fixtures against Munster clubs and won 26 of those games for a 47% success rate. They have won their last 14 AIB League matches and finished this season with the best tries differential (+40) in all three league divisions.

They have played the second most league games (221) of all the Irish clubs. They are currently captained by Limerick-born hooker Bevan Cantrell who also skippered the Dublin 4 club to the Division Three title in 2003. Bruff will face a number of Limerick men in the Wanderers ranks, including Cantrell, Billy Treacy and Ronan Likely.

Over 15 Division Three rounds this season, they conceded the least tries (14) in all three league divisions. They are currently ranked 33rd of the 48 Irish senior clubs and 25th in the all-time AIB League list.

WANDERERS

President: Kevin Brophy
Sponsors: BT
Coach: Andrew Spraggon; Assistant Coach: Michael Cosgrave
Manager: Greg Hopkins

2006/07 Squad – Back three: Damien Hunt, Paul Noble, Dan O’Sullivan, Max Olahan
Centres: Jim Ferris, Huw Davies, Ronan Likely, Mark Culhane, Winton Porter
Out-Halves: Billy Tracey, Daithi Fitzgerald
Scrum Halves: Brendan O’Brien, Mark O’Dea, Paddy McCormack
Props: David Rowe, Rob Colleran, Gareth Fitzgerald, Garrett Ryan
Hookers: Bevan Cantrell (capt), Ian O’Connor, Joel Reccuss
Secon Rows: Paul Ryan, Greg Thompson, Niall McManus
Flankers: Junior Charlie, Peter Burns, Maurice O’Keeffe, Shane O’Farrelly, Emmet Wardell, Kolo Kiripati
Number 8s: Victor Ball, Pom Simone

League Season So Far – Played 16, Won 15, Lost 1, Points For 465 (59 tries, 40 conversions and 30 penalties), Points Against 190 (18 tries, 17 conversions and 22 penalties)

Top Points Scorers – Billy Tracey 145 (2 tries, 30 conversions and 25 penalties), Daithi Fitzgerald 70 (7 tries, 10 conversions and 5 penalties)

2006/07 Try Record – D Fitzgerald 7, K Kiripati, J Ferris, P Simone, M Culhane 6 each, D Hunt 5, R Likely 4, P Ryan, J Gibson 3 each, B O’Brien, V Ball, G Fitzgerald, B Tracey 2 each, B Cantrell, G Thompson, J Charlie, H Davies 1 each

BRUFF have won six and lost two of their eight matches on the road in the AIB League and AIB Cup this season. They have played 11 league fixtures against Leinster clubs and won six of those games for a 55% success rate.

They lost their two-season unbeaten record away in Leinster when they arrived at Merrion Road in December, but they finished the league season as the top Munster club in the third tier. Unlike Wanderers, the Limerick club have never appeared in an AIB League championship final before.

They have three Carroll brothers and three Cahill brothers in their current senior squad. They made the play-offs in their second AIB League Division Three season but lost 24-3 away to Clonakilty in the semi-finals.

The club is located 15 miles south of Limerick city, slap in the middle of JP McManus country. Since the opening day of the season last October, they have not conceded a bonus point for tries during their 16 league games to date.

Top try scorer Finbarr Hogan and assistant coach Eoin Cahill have seen time in Division One with Young Munster and Shannon. They are currently ranked 35th of the 48 Irish senior clubs and 43rd in the all-time AIB League list.

BRUFF

President: Ger Malone
Sponsors: International Cargo Services
Coach: Eugene Murnane; Assistant Coach: Eoin Cahill
Manager: Michael Leahy

2006/07 Squad – Back three: Brendan Deady (capt), Finbarr Hogan, Gary Leonard, Alan Kilcoyne, Ronan Kirby
Centres: James Ryan, John Malone, Eoin Cahill, John Carroll, Stephen Conway, James Collins
Out-Halves: Brian Cahill, Brian Carroll, Paul O’Brien
Scrum Halves: Tony Cahill, Andrew Howard, Joe Lyons, Niall McCarthy
Props: Ger Collins, David Horan, Gearoid Ryan, Bob Kiely, Richie Flanagan, Liam O’Herlihy
Hookers: Cathal O’Regan, John Hogan, Mossie O’Donnell
Second Rows: Dermot Murnane, Derek Noonan, Alan Bourke, Sean Danagher
Flankers: David Gardiner, James Taylor, John Stephen Shine, Martin O’Rourke
Number 8s: Michael Carroll, Padraig Keogh, Walter Almerora (released)

League Season So Far – Played 16, Won 13, Lost 3, Points For 353 (42 tries, 31 conversions, 26 penalties and 1 drop goal), Points Against 158 (16 tries, 9 conversions, 18 penalties and 2 drop goals)

Top Points Scorers – Brian Cahill 143 (4 tries, 27 conversions and 23 penalties), F Hogan 57 (11 tries and 1 conversion)

2006/07 Try Record – F Hogan 11, J Carroll 6, C O’Regan, B Cahill 4 each, M Carroll, T Cahill 3 each, J Malone, JS Shine, E Cahill, W Almerora 2 each, G Leonard, A Kilcoyne, G Collins 1 each

– AIB League statistics supplied by Des Daly –