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AIB League: Division Two Previews

AIB League: Division Two Previews

Division Two leaders Dublin University’s mouth-watering clash with Belfast Harlequins, the favourites to win the title, is one of the highlights of another busy day of action in the AIB League’s second tier. Read on for full match previews.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION TWO: Saturday, November 3

BALLYNAHINCH (11th) v BUCCANEERS (7th), Ballymacarn Park, 2.30pm
Referee: Paul Haycock (Leinster)

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Previous League Meetings: 0

Last Season: No game played as Ballynahinch were in Division Three and Buccaneers were in Division One

Form: Ballynahinch (most recent games on left hand side): LLWLW
Buccaneers: WWWLL

Ballynahinch – Notes: * This is their only home match against a Connacht club this season and the second of their eight home games in the current Division two campaign
* This weekend they are playing their ninth league fixture at home to a Connacht club and they have won all eight previous games
* They are playing the first of two clubs this season that they have not previously met in the AIB League – it is also their second successive league game at home
* They are the only Ulster club that has never lost at home to Connacht opposition in the league. They lost 13-7 to UCC in their Division Two opener last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is Mark Scott (2 points)

Buccaneers – Notes: * This is their first of two visits to Ulster this season and their first of eight games in the road in Division Two this season
* They have played 20 AIB League games away in Ulster and have won eight of these games. They are visiting Deramore Park for the first time in the AIB League this weekend
* They boast the best Connacht clubs’ AIB League record playing away in Ulster. This weekend’s game is their first of three consecutive Division Two fixtures on the road
* They kickstarted their climb back into Division One with an 8-3 home win over Clonakilty last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is Colm Rigney (5 points)

BARNHALL (5th) v WANDERERS (14th), Parsonstown, 2.30pm
Referee: Ken Henley-Willis (Leinster)

Previous League Meetings: 1 (Barnhall W1, Wanderers W0); At Parsonstown: 0

Last Season: No game played as Wanderers were in Division Three

Form: Barnhall (most recent games on left hand side): WLLLL
Wanderers: LLWWW

Barnhall – Notes: * This is their first of three home matches against Leinster clubs this season and their second of eight home matches in the current Division Two campaign
* They have played 18 AIB League games at home to clubs from Leinster and won eleven of these ties. They played Wanderers once before in Division Two, winning 26-19 away to the Dubliners in January 2006
* This weekend’s game is their second of three consecutive matches at home – they lost all three league games at home to Leinster clubs last season
* They scored the only try in their 16-9 victory at home to Thomond last weekend
* Their top points scorer is Cathal Connolly (11 points)

Wanderers – Notes: * This is their first of three away games in Leinster this season and their first of eight games on the road in the current Division two campaign
* They have played 34 AIB League fixtures on the road in their own province and enjoyed a 50% success rate in these games. This weekend they are visiting Parsonstown for the first time in the league
* At home to Barnhall they won 11-0 in the Leinster Senior Cup two months ago
* They clocked up a hat-trick of home defeats to Belfast Harlequins when they lost 25-9 to them last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is David Fitzgerald (9 points)

BECTIVE RANGERS (16th) v THOMOND (12th), Donnybrook, 2.30pm
Referee: Ray Menown (Ulster)

Previous League Meetings: 6 (Bective Rangers W4, D1, Thomond W1); At Donnybrook: 3 (Bective Rangers W3, Thomond W0)

Last Season: March 3, 2007 – Thomond 3 Bective Rangers 19, Liam Fitzgerald Park

Form: Bective Rangers (most recent games on left hand side): LLLLW
Thomond: LLWLW

Bective Rangers – Notes: * This is their first of five home matches against Munster clubs this season and their second of seven home games on the road in the current Division Two campaign
* They have won 40 of their previous 72 AIB League games against Munster opposition – they boast the best Leinster clubs’ league record playing against Munster clubs
* This weekend they are seeking a hat-trick of victories over Thomond. Injured at the moment, Fergal Campion requires 30 more points to become the first player to score 1000 points for Bective in the AIB League
* They played a running game and lost 31-6 to Dublin University in a double header at Donnybrook last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is Simon Mitchell (6 points)

Thomond – Notes: * This is their second of four trips to Leinster this season and their second of seven games on the road in the current Division two campaign
* They are gunning on Saturday for their 20th success in 47 games against Leinster clubs in the AIB League
* They first played in the AIB League against Bective in March 2002 – they lost 28-26 at Donnybrook
* They lost 13-3 on their most recent visit to Donnybrook in October 2005 and have won only once on their last nine league visits to Leinster. They travelled to County Kildare last weekend and lost 16-9 to Barnhall
* Their top points scorer is Declan Cusack (9 points)

CLONAKILTY (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (8th), Shannonvale Cross, 2.30pm
Referee: Declan Browne (Munster)

Previous League Meetings: 1 (Clonakilty W0, D1, Young Munster W0); At Shannonvale Cross: 0

Last Season: February 17, 2007 – Young Munster 10 Clonakilty 10, Tom Clifford Park

Form: Clonakilty (most recent games on left hand side): LLDWW
Young Munster: WLWWW

Clonakilty – Notes: * This is their first of five home matches against Munster clubs this season and their first of seven home ties in the current Division Two campaign
* They have played 17 AIB League matches against Munster clubs and won eight of these games. They first played in the league against Young Munster in February 2007 – that game finished in a 10-10 draw at Shannonvale Cross
* They are entertaining a Limerick club this weekend but do not have to travel to the Treaty city in this season’s league
* They have lost only one of their last four league games at home to clubs from their own province. They collected a losing bonus point in their 8-3 defeat to Buccaneers at Dubarry Park last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is Gary Cribb (3 points)

Young Munster – Notes: * This is their first of five away games in Munster this season and their first of eight Division Two games on the road this season
* This weekend they are playing their 40th AIB League fixture against Munster opposition and they are are seeking their 17th victory
* They have lost only one of their last seven AIB League games away in their own province. They have been coached by Tony Grant for ten seasons
* They won 16-14 in a rousing encounter at home to Malone last weekend
* Their top points scorer is Tom Wells (11 points)

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (1st) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (4th), College Park, 2.30pm
Referee: Trevor Collins (Munster)

Previous League Meetings: 2 (Dublin University W0, Belfast Harlequins W2); At College Park: 1 (Dublin University W0, Belfast Harlequins W1)

Last Season: No game played as Belfast Harlequins were in Division One

Form: Dublin University (most recent games on left hand side): WLWLW
Belfast Harlequins: WLWWL

Dublin University – Notes: * This is their first of three home matches against Ulster clubs this season and their first of eight home games in the current Division Two campaign
* They have won 20 of their 26 AIB League games at home to Ulster opposition. They first played in the league against Belfast Harlequins in November 2004 – they lost 28-10 that day at Deramore Park
* They have lost their two previous AIB League encounters with Harlequins, which were both in Division One
* Two Ulster students, half-backs Johnny Watt and Joey Burns, who is the Trinity captain this season, will come up against some familiar faces on Saturday afternoon. Dublin University scored the most tries in Division Two last weekend in their five-try 31-6 dismissal of Bective Rangers
* Their top points scorer is Killian Stafford (10 points)

Belfast Harlequins – Notes: * This is their second of two visits to Leinster this season and their second of eight fixtures on the road in the current Division two campaign
* This is their 50th AIB League fixture against a Leinster club and they are seeking their 35th victory. Former Dublin University prop Niall Conlon should be facing his old student club on Saturday
* They visited Trinity once before in the league and won that Division One game 41-14 back in January 2006
* They have the best Ulster clubs’ AIB League record playing away in the Leinster province. They raided Leinster once again last week when they beat Wanderers 25-9 at Merrion Road
* Their top points scorer is Niall O’Connor (7 points)

HIGHFIELD (3rd) v SUTTONIANS (15th), Woodleigh Park, 2.30pm
Referee: Richard Kerr (Ulster)

Previous League Meetings: 6 (Highfield W4, D1, Suttonians W1); At Woodleigh Park: 2 (Highfield W1, D1)

Last Season: January 20, 2007 – Suttonians 3 Highfield 12, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds

Form: Highfield (most recent games on left hand side): WWWWW
Suttonians: LLLLL

Highfield – Notes: * This is their first of three home games against Leinster clubs this season and their second of eight home fixtures in Division Two this season
* This weekend they play their 35th AIB League fixture at home to a Leinster club and are seeking their 14th success. They have previously played Suttonians in Divisions Two, Three and Four
* They have suffered no defeats in their last four league meetings with Suttonians and have won three and lost three of their last six league games at home to Leinster opposition
* They were one of three Division Two clubs to pick up a bonus points for tries scored when they beat Old Crescent 22-10 in Bishopstown last week
* Their top points scorers are Brian O’Meara, Michael Essex, Dave Ryan and Jonathan Bradling Harris (5 points each)

Suttonians – Notes: * This is their first of five visits to Munster this season and their first of seven Division Two fixtures on the road this season
* They have played 16 AIB League games away in Munster and won five of these games. They first played in the league against Highfield in February 1998, losing that game 24-10 at Station Road
* They drew 15-15 on their most recent visit to Woodleigh Park in December 2002 and have won twice on their last four league visits to Munster
* They conceded the most points (35) in Division Two last week when they lost 35-15 at home to De La Salle Palmerston
* Their top points scorer is Paddy Maguire (5 points)

OLD CRESCENT (13th) v MALONE (9th), Rosbrien, 2.30pm
Referee: Robert Doyle (Leinster)

Previous League Meetings: 11 (Old Crescent W9, D1, Malone W1); At Rosbrien: 6 (Old Crescent W6, Malone W0)

Last Season: March 3, 2007 – Malone 26 Old Crescent 33, Gibson Park

Form: Old Crescent (most recent games on left hand side): LDWWW
Malone: LLLLL

Old Crescent – Notes: * This is their only home match against an Ulster club this season and the first of seven fixtures at home in Division Two this season
* They are hoping this weekend for their 30th victory in 46 league games against Ulster opposition. They are unbeaten in their last seven league meetings with Malone
* They first played in the league against Malone in March 1994, winning 31-17 at Rosbrien
* They have won their last six league games at home to Ulster opposition. They failed to collect a bonus point in their 22-10 loss away to Highfield last weekend
* Their top points scorer is Gareth James and Mark Ryan (5 points each)

Malone – Notes: * This is their second of three visits to Munster this season and the second of seven games on the road in the current Division two campaign
* This weekend they are playing their 80th AIB League fixture against a Munster club and are seeking their 34th victory. In six previous visits to Rosbrien, they have never managed to avoid defeat
* They lost 31-8 on the most recent visit to Rosbrien in October 2005 and have won twice on their last six league visits to Munster
* They lost for the sixth consecutive time away in Limerick when Young Munster beat them 16-14 last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is Kieran Hallett (9 points)

UCC (6th) v DE LA SALLE PALMERSTON (2nd), The Mardyke, 2.30pm
Referee: John Carvill (Leinster)

Previous League Meetings: 10 (UCC W3, D1, De La Salle Palmerston W6); At the Mardyke: 5 (UCC W3, D1, De La Salle Palmerston W1)

Last Season: March 3, 2007 – De La Salle Palmerston 28 UCC 10, Kilternan

Form: UCC (most recent games on left hand side): WWLLL
De La Salle Palmerston: WWLWW

UCC – Notes: * This is their first of four home matches against Leinster opposition this season and their first of seven home games in this season’s Division two campaign
* They have played 41 AIB League games at home to Leinster clubs and won 26 of these games
* They first field in the league against De La Salle Palmerston in February 1995, drawing 0-0 at the Mardyke. They are seeking a hat-trick of home victories over De La Salle Palmerston
* The last five meetings between the two clubs have resulted in home wins. They have lost just one of their last 13 league games at home to clubs from Leinster. They were delighted with their 13-7 victory away at Ballynahinch last Saturday
* Their top points scorer is Gavin Dunne (8 points)

De La Salle Palmerston – Notes: * This is their first of four trips to Munster this season and the second of their seven games on the road in the current Division Two campaign
* They are hoping this weekend for their 10th win in 35 AIB League games on the road in Munster. They lost 27-22 on their most recent visit to the Mardyke in October 2005
* They have won just two of their last seven encounters with the Cork students. They lost all three Division Two games away in Munster last season
* They scored the most points (35) in Division Two last Saturday with a bonus point victory away to Suttonians
* Their top points scorer is Phil de Barra (15 points)

– AIB League statistics courtesy of Des Daly