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Division Two Semi-Final Preview: Young Munster v Belfast Harlequins

Division Two Semi-Final Preview: Young Munster v Belfast Harlequins

Two of the form teams in the country will meet at Tom Clifford Park on Saturday for a prized place in the AIB League Division Two final. Already promoted, Young Munster will want to go up with the play-off title under their arms, while Belfast Harlequins will be eager for revenge after just missing out on promotion.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION TWO SEMI-FINAL: Saturday, April 12

YOUNG MUNSTER v BELFAST HARLEQUINS, Tom Clifford Park, 2.30pm
Referee: Paul Haycock (Leinster)

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Previous League Meetings: 2 (Young Munster won 1, drawn 1); At Tom Clifford Park: 1 (Young Munster won 1)

This Season: Saturday, December 1, 2007 – Belfast Harlequins 12 Young Munster 12, Deramore Park

Recent League Form: Young Munster (most recent games on left hand side): WWWWW
Belfast Harlequins: WWWWW

Young Munster – Notes: * Young Munster finished second in the Division Two table and were promoted. They played 15 matches in the regulation phase, won 11, drew 2 and lost 2 (points difference +143)
* This is their second home game against an Ulster club this season. The story at home in Division Two this season is played 7 matches and won all 7
* They have previously played 16 AIB League fixtures at home to clubs from Ulster and won ten of these games. They conceded the least points (129) and the least tries (11) during Division Two’s regulation phase this season
* They also lost the leats number of games (2) in Division Two this season
* Over their 15 Division Two games to date, they kicked the most penalty goals (32). They played three games against Ulster opposition in Division Two this season – they beat Malone at home 16-14
* The 1992/93 Division One champions, Munsters have reached the play-offs three times before – Division One in 1997/98 and Division Two in 2005/06 and 2006/07 – all games were at away venues
* They led the Division Two standings over four rounds this season and are unbeaten in their last nine Division Two games at Tom Clifford Park

Top Points Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Mark Connolly 64 points, Tom Wells 45 points, Tom Cregan 24 points

Top Try Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Derek Corcoran 6 tries, Matt Costello and Michael South 3 tries each

Belfast Harlequins – Notes: * Belfast Harlequins finished third in the Division Two table. They played 15 matches in the regulation phase, won 11, drew 1 and lost 3 (points difference +151)
* This is the club’s fourth visit to Munster this season. The story on the road in Division Two this season is played 8, won 6 and lost 2
* They have won their last six Division Two games and have won twelve times in their previous 21 league games away in Munster
* They scored the most points (312) in Division Two this season during the regulation phase and boast the most positive points differential
* They won all three Division Two games away in Munster this season, but may not be aware of the fact that there has been no away win in the Division Two play-offs over the past seven seasons
* They never led Division Two at any stage this season. They have won three and lost three of their last six AIB League games away in Limerick
* They have reached the play-offs three times before – twice in Division One (2003/04 and 2004/05) and once in Division Two (2001/02)
* They have previously played two semi-finals in Limerick – they lost 27-13 to Shannon in 2003/04 and beat Garryowen 15-8 in 2004/05

Top Points Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Willem Slabbert 117 points, Niall O’Connor 14 points

Top Try Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Darren Cave and Paul McKenzie 5 tries each

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by less than 7 points

– AIB League statistics supplied by Des Daly