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AIB League: Division Two Previews

AIB League: Division Two Previews

Young Munster and UCC, the only two teams left unbeaten in Division Two, are both back at home this weekend after successful away trips last Saturday. ‘Munsters’ welcome ninth-placed Barnhall to Tom Clifford Park while UCC will be hoping to make it four wins on the trot against former top flight regulars Buccaneers. See below for IrishRugby.ie’s match previews.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION TWO: Saturday, November 17

CLONAKILTY (15th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (7th), Shannonvale Cross, 2.30pm
Referee: Paul Haycock (Leinster)

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Previous League Meetings: 0

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

Form: Clonakilty (most recent games on left hand side): LLLLD
Belfast Harlequins: LWWLW

Clonakilty – Notes: – The only home match against an Ulster club this season
– This is the second of seven home matches in Division Two this season
– They have previously played 15 AIB League fixtures at home to clubs from Ulster and lost three of these games
– This is the club’s seventh AIB League season and their first time to field against Belfast Harlequins
– They lost five of their regular pack over the summer due to retirements and players moving on
– They played their 100th AIB League fixture last weekend
– They have conceded an aggregate 79 points – including 12 tries – in their last two Division Two games
– Winless after three games, ‘Clon’ got their first tries of this AIB League campaign last weekend at De La Salle Palmerston
– Their top points scorer so far is Gary Cribb (13 points)

Belfast Harlequins – Notes: – The first of three visits to Munster this season
– This is the third of eight fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have enjoyed a 50% success rate in their 18 previous AIB League fixtures away in Munster
– This weekend they visit west Cork for the first time in the AIB League
– This is their third away fixture in their four openers this season
– They had, according to Dublin University, ten Ulster provincial players and one recent Irish international in their side for their clash with Dublin University in Dublin on November 3
– Unusually, they have collected no bonus points for tries scored so far this Division Two season
– They were shocked 20-13 at home to UCC last week and have fallen four places in the table
– Their top points scorer so far is Niall O’Connor (14 points). Their top try scorer is Darren Cave (4 tries)

DE LA SALLE PALMERSTON (4th) v BECTIVE RANGERS (14th), Kilternan, 2.30pm
Referee: Jude Quinn (Munster)

Previous League Meetings: 9 (De La Salle Palmerston W6, Bective Rangers W3); At Kilternan: 6 (De La Salle Palmertston W4, Bective Rangers W2)

Last Season: October 28, 2006 – Bective Rangers 16 De La Salle Palmerston 34, Donnybrook

Form: De La Salle Palmerston (most recent games on left hand side): WLWWL
Bective Rangers: LLLLL

De La Salle Palmerston – Notes: – The first of three home matches against Leinster clubs this season
– This is the second of eight home games in Division Two this season
– They have previously played 35 AIB League fixtures at home to Leinster clubs and won 20 of these games
– They first played in the AIB League against Bective Rangers in March 1994 – they lost 23-7 at home to them
– They have won five of their last six AIB League games with Bective Rangers. They won 32-18 at home to Bective in this season’s AIB Cup second round a month ago
– They join three Munster clubs in the top four in the table at the moment
– They thrashed Clonakilty 41-17 last week at Kilternan to move up three places in the table
– Their top points scorer so far is Phil de Barra (28 points). Their top try scorers are Michael Morrin, Seamus Sarsfield, Carl de Chenu, Niall Smullen and Francis Cooney (2 tries each)

Bective Rangers – Notes: – The first of four away games in Leinster this season
– This is the second of seven fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have previously played 35 AIB League fixtures away to Leinster clubs and won 16 of these games
– They won 15-7 on their most recent AIB League visit to Kilternan in October 2005
– The club’s junior grounds at Glenamuck Road are located just a few hundred metres away from ‘Salmo’s grounds in Kilternan
– This weekend they play the second of three consecutive away matches in Division Two this season
– They have conceded just one penalty goal this Division Two season to date
– They scored four tries away to Malone last week
– Their top points scorers so far are Paul Hatton and Gregor Lawson (10 points each). Their top try scorers are Paul Hatton and Gregor Lawson (2 tries each)

HIGHFIELD (3rd) v BALLYNAHINCH (5th), Woodleigh Park, 2.30pm
Referee: Ken Henley-Willis (Leinster)

Previous League Meetings: 3 (Highfield W1, Ballynahinch W2); At Woodleigh Park: 1 (Highfield W1, Ballynahinch W0)

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

Form: Highfield (most recent games on left hand side): LWWWW
Ballynahinch: WWLLW

Highfield – Notes: – The first of two home matches against Ulster clubs this season
– This is the third of eight home games in Division Two this season
– They have previously played 25 AIB League fixtures at home to clubs from Ulster and won 13 of these games
– They first played in the AIB League against Ballynahinch in December 1997 – lost 16-0 away in County Down
– This weekend they play a third home fixture in their four Division Two openers this season
– Prop Dave Ryan, at 21 years of age, is probably the youngest captain in this season’s AIB League
– They missed former international Brian O’Meara last week as he was abroad playing with the Legends
– They have scored the most tries (12) in Division Two so far this season and are one of three Munster clubs at the top of the table
– Their top points scorer so far is Brian O’Meara (20 points). Their top try scorer is Jonathan Brandling-Harris (3 tries)

Ballynahinch – Notes: – The last of two visits to Munster this season
– This is the second of seven fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have previously played 30 AIB League fixtures away in Munster and won 13 of these games
– They lost 19-5 on their most recent AIB League visit to Bishopstown in Cork (March 2006)
– The three previous AIB League fixtures between these two clubs have all produced home wins
– They have been promoted into Division Two three times during their twelve season history in the AIB League
– They won 31-21 away to Thomond last week and are the top Ulster club in Division Two at the moment
– Their top points scorer so far is Mark Scott (24 points)

SUTTONIANS (16th) v MALONE (10th), JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds, 2.30pm
Referee: Seamus Flannery (Munster)

Previous League Meetings: 1 (Suttonians W1, Malone W0); At JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds: 0

Last Season: November 4, 2006 – Malone 14 Suttonians 23, Gibson Park

Form: Suttonians (most recent games on left hand side): LLLLL
Malone: WLLLL

Suttonians – Notes: – The first of two home matches against Ulster clubs this season
– This is the second of eight home games in Division Two this season
– They have previously played 25 AIB League matches at home to clubs from Ulster and won 17 of these games
– Paddy Maguire kicked six penalty goals against Malone in Division Two last season and he will be around again this weekend
– They have lost their last eight AIB League games
– The Kearney brothers, Frank and captain Aidan, along with the Walsh brothers, Dave and Joey, are regular starters for the Dublin 13 club
– They have lost all three games to date and both scored the least (18) and conceded the most points (116) in the division
– Their top points scorer so far is Paddy Maguire (8 points)

Malone – Notes: – The first of three visits to Leinster this season
– This is the third of seven fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They are hoping this weekend for their 15th win in 44 AIB League fixtures away in the Leinster province
– They are visiting Suttonians for the first time in the AIB League
– They have two Bradfords, Michael and David, playing in their forward pack
– They beat Bective Rangers 22-20 in Belfast last week in a game they would have lost if Bective had a kicker
– Their top points scorer so far is Kieran Hallett (33 points). Their top try scorers are Simon Danielli and John Anderson (2 tries each)

THOMOND (12th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th), Liam Fitzgerald Park, 2.30pm
Referee: Richard Kerr (Ulster)

Previous League Meetings: 5 (Thomond W1, Dublin University W4) At Liam Fitzgerald Park: 2 (Thomond W0, Dublin University W2)

Last Season: December 9, 2006 – Dublin University 31 Thomond 20, College Park

Form: Thomond (most recent games on left hand side): LWLLW
Dublin University: WLWLW

Thomond – Notes: – The first of two home matches against Leinster clubs this season
– This is the second of eight home games in Division Two this season
– They have won 20 of their previous 47 AIB League fixtures with Leinster clubs
– They played Dublin University in their first ever AIB League fixture – in Division Four in November 1999 – they lost 15-10 at home to them
– They have lost their last three AIB League matches against this weekend’s opponents
– This weekend they play a third Leinster club in their four Division Two openers this season
– have dropped three places in the table after their 31-21 loss at home to Ballynahinch last week
– Their top points scorer so far is Declan Cusack (29 points)

Dublin University – Notes: – The first of three visits to Munster this season
– This is the third of seven fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have enjoyed a 50% success rate in their previous 52 AIB League fixtures with Munster clubs
– They won 13-6 on their most recent AIB League visit to Liam Fitzgerald Park in April 2003
– They are this weekend on a hat-trick of away wins over Thomond
– They have previously played Thomond in Divisions Two, Three and Four of the AIB League
– They won 18-11 away to Barnhall last week with winger Killian Stafford crossing for yet another try
– Their top points scorer so far is Johnny Watt (18 points). Their top try scorer is Killian Stafford (4 tries)

UCC (2nd) v BUCCANEERS (5th), The Mardyke, 2.30pm
Referee: Robert Doyle (Leinster)

Previous League Meetings: 4 (UCC W2, D1, Buccaneers W1); The Mardyke: 1 (UCC W1, Buccaneers W0)

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

Form: UCC (most recent games on left hand side): WWWWL
Buccaneers: WLWWL

UCC – Notes: – The only home game against a Connacht club this season
– This is their second of seven home games in Division Two this season
– They have previously played four AIB League fixtures at home to Connacht clubs and won three of them
– They first played in the AIB League against Buccaneers in March 1994 – they won 13-5 at the Mardyke
– Nollaig Parfrey, professor of Pathology at UCC, is the president of the student rugby club
– Second row Neilus Keogh is a younger brother of Leinster back rower Stephen Keogh
– Three wins from three was not what the Cork students had anticipated with an unkind start to their Division Two season
– Their top points scorer so far is Gavin Dunne (29 points). Their top try scorer is Stephen Archer (2 tries)

Buccaneers – Notes: – The second of three trips to Munster this season
– This is the third of eight fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have won eight of their previous 27 AIB League fixtures away in Munster
– They lost 19-15 on their most recent AIB League visit to the Mardyke (in January 1995)
– They have not played in the AIB League against UCC during the past nine seasons
– This weekend they play the last of three consecutive away fixtures in Division Two this season
– They have kicked only one penalty goal so far this AIB League season
– They moved up three places in the table after their 24-18 success at Old Crescent last week
– Their top points scorer so far is Alan Gaughan (12 points). Their top try scorer is Adrian Penzhorn (2 tries)

WANDERERS (13th) v OLD CRESCENT (11th), Merrion Road, 2.30pm
Referee: David Connolly (Connacht)

Previous League Meetings: 6 (Wanderers W2, D1, Old Crescent W3); At Lansdowne Road: 2 (Wanderers W0, D1, Old Crescent W1)

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

Form: Wanderers (most recent games on left hand side): WLLLW
Old Crescent: LWLDW

Wanderers – Notes: – The second of four home matches against Munster clubs this season
– This is the third of seven home games in Division One this season
– They have won 13 of their previous 26 AIB League fixtures at home to clubs from Munster
– They first played in the AIB League against Old Crescent in November 1992 – they won 26-24 away at Rosbrien
– They will have nearly as many Limerick accents in their side this weekend as their opponents
– They have yet to beat Old Crescent in Dublin in the AIB League
– This weekend they play a third home game against Wanderers during the past five seasons
– They have kicked the most penalty goals (8) in Division Two so far this season
– They won 24-18 at home to Highfield last week
– Their top points scorer so far is David Fitzgerald (29 points)

Old Crescent – Notes: – The first of three trips to Dublin this season
– This is their second of eight fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have previously made 43 AIB League visits to Leinster and won on 15 occasions
– They won 20-3 on their most recent AIB League visit to Wanderers in Dublin (in March 1999)
– They lost to Wanderers last season but had gone unbeaten against them in their previous four AIB League meetings
– They have not played against Wanderers during the past five league seasons
– They have conceded just one penalty goal this Division Two season to date
– They lost 24-18 at home to Buccaneers last week but their position in the table remained unchanged
– Their top points scorer so far is Gareth James (32 points). Their top try scorers are Gareth James and Mark Ryan (2 tries each)

YOUNG MUNSTER (1st) v BARNHALL (9th), Tom Clifford Park, 2.30pm
Referee: John Carvill (Leinster)

Previous League Meetings: 5 (Young Munster W3, D1, Barnhall W1); At Tom Clifford Park 3 (Young Munster W2, D1, Barnhall W0)

Last Season: November 4, 2006 – Barnhall 31 Young Munster 13, Parsonstown

Form: Young Munster (most recent games on left hand side): WWWLW
Barnhall: LWWLL

Young Munster – Notes: – The second of five home matches against Leinster clubs this season
– This is the third of seven home games in Division Two this season
– This weekend they play their 50th AIB League fixture at home to a Leinster club and are seeking their 33rd win
– They first played in the AIB League against Barnhall in October 2002 in their first game in Division Two after eleven seasons in Division One – they won 17-10 at home to them
– Their loss to Barnhall last season was their first in five league meetings with the County Kildare club
– This weekend they play a third home game in their four Division Two openers this season
– After three rounds this season, they have scored more points (90) than any other club in all three divisions
– They have won all three openers and collected two try bonus points
– Their top points scorer so far is Tom Wells (22 points). Their top try scorers are Derek Corcoran, Matt Costello and Michael South (2 tries each)

Barnhall – Notes: – The first of three trips to Munster this season
– This is their first of seven fixtures on the road in Division Two this season
– They have won twelve times on their previous 30 AIB League visits to Munster
– They lost 18-3 on their most recent AIB League visit to Tom Clifford Park (January 2006)
– They have never won in three league visits to play ‘Munsters’ in Limerick
– President this season, Jack Looby, is 36-years-old and regularly plays as a J2 prop with the club
– They have conceded the most penalty goals (7) in Division Two so far this season
– They dropped four places in the table after losing 18-11 at home to Dublin University last week
– Their top points scorer so far is Cathal Connolly (30 points)

– AIB League statistics courtesy of Des Daly