Six of the scheduled eight AIB League Division Two games are set to go ahead on Saturday, with only the Dublin University v Highfield and Wanderers v Bruff ties falling victim to the bad weather. Two provincial derbies are the headline acts this weekend – Ballynahinch entertain Malone and Lansdowne and Greystones will face off at the RDS.
Ballynahinch club representative John Dickson admitted that Saturday’s clash with Malone is ‘a match that we’ve just got to win.’
‘Hinch are hoping that their season did not peak a couple of weeks ago when they knocked champions Shannon out of the AIB Cup.
Derek Suffern’s side went down 21-9 to fellow promotion chasers UCC last weekend, with the result marking their third defeat of the league campaign.
With a mini-injury crisis on their hands, the Ballymacarn Park residents will have to rise above it and back-to-back wins over Malone and then Highfield, in next weekend’s rescheduled game, would surely get them back on track.
Encouragingly, recent Ulster cap Willie Faloon is fit to return for the Malone encounter, but Andy Ward, David Drake and Robert Greer are all currently injured.
Eighth-placed Malone can claw their way back into play-off contention but four teams ahead of them each have a game in hand, so this trip to County Down is a very important one.
Meanwhile, table toppers Lansdowne are back on home soil this weekend after a well-judged 18-5 win at Clonakilty last time out.
Greystones, the 21-12 conquerors of Belfast Harlequins, will take on the headquarters side at the RDS.
This Leinster derby has the potential to produce fireworks and a certain Gordon D’Arcy has been provisionally named in the Lansdowne line-up.
But the weather could reduce the influence of the backs and the respective place-kickers, Lansdowne’s South African import Charl Oosthuizen and Greystones’ Leinster ‘A’ out-half James Power, might just decide the result.
Another game that has great potential is the meeting of the division’s third and fourth-placed teams. UCC have been going great guns of late and home advantage at the Mardyke could help them stretch away from Bective Rangers in the second half.
Led by AIB Club international scrum half Sam Cronin, the Cork students have plenty of match winners in their side but it is a similar case with Bective, for whom half-backs Cathal Connolly and Dave Campbell are all-action players.
Should ‘Hinch and Bective slip up, sixth-ranked Old Crescent could take advantage and leapfrog them in the standings courtesy of a home win over lowly Clonakilty.
Crescent lost last weekend’s Limerick derby as a last-minute penalty from David Maw saw Bruff to a 11-9 victory at Kilballyowen Park. Phil Glamuzina should bounce back against Clon but the four tries might prove beyond them.
In the remaining Division Two fixtures this weekend, Thomond will be hoping to make it three league games without defeat when they travel to an off-form Belfast Harlequins side. ‘Quins have slid down the table and are without a league win since October.
Bottom side Instonians badly need the four points at Shaw’s Bridge, where De La Salle Palmerston will provide the opposition. It might be a chance for these sides to cut loose as between them, they have only scored 217 points over the first nine rounds of the league.
AIB LEAGUE FIXTURES: Saturday, January 31
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Ballynahinch v Malone, Ballymacarn Park
Malone (v Ballynahinch): P Baird; M Barker, J Burgess, M McCrea, J Anderson; G Fry, C Rowan; J Carey, S Bailie, W Woods, D Barbour, F Paulo, R Wilson, K Calladine, G Moore.
Belfast Harlequins v Thomond, Deramore Park
Belfast Harlequins (v Thomond): M Kettyle; G McLoughlin, S Stewart, K Pyper, W Stewart; N O’Connor, P Marshall; J Hopgood, R Logan, D Roach, A Heatlie, M Willis, C McCarey, C Atkinson, S Robinson.
Dublin University v Highfield, Seapoint RFC, Killiney (Postponed due to an unplayable pitch)
Instonians v De La Salle Palmerston, Shaw’s Bridge
De La Salle Palmerston (v Instonians): C Power Jnr; F Cooney, K Copeland, C O’Brien, , C De Chenu; C Hickey, R Woods; E O’Reilly, R Kwiakowloski, K Taite, N O’Byrne, N Smullen, D McCabe, E Guinan, C Power Snr
Lansdowne v Greystones, The RDS
Lansdowne (v Greystones): J Meagher; L Kavanagh, G Stafford, G D’Arcy, C Oosthuizen; D Hewitt, M Healy; C Murphy, R Quinn, K Cleere, A Maher, D Toner, W Earls, T Conneely, A McCullen.
Greystones: C O’Sullivan; S O’Connell, S Meyer, C Cleary, A Higgs; J Power, F Jones; J Rowe, C Robinson, S Snell, N Megannety, B Holmes, J Downey, B Wojnar, L Mantle.
Old Crescent v Clonakilty, Rosbrien
Old Crescent (v Clonakilty): R Moloney; W Hanly, D Grace, B Leahy, A O’Carroll; B O’Shea, A Purcell; PJ McLoughlin, S Malone, E McGovern, JP Ruiz, M Ryan, P Glamuzina, J O’Neill, L Viapula.
Wanderers v Bruff, Merrion Road (Postponed due to an unplayable pitch)
UCC v Bective Rangers, The Mardyke
Bective Rangers (v UCC): M Summerell; J Ryan, M South, C Connolly, B O’Friel; R McInerney, D Campbell; E Hogan, R Sajur, B Crowley, T Bowen, P Hatton, M Hennelly, C Harbison, D Hall.
To subscribe to the AIB League fixtures and results service, please text ON AIB to 53235; To unsubscribe, text STOP AIB to 53235.
Open to customers of O2, Vodafone and Meteor. Alerts cost 30c. Standard text rate to subscribe/unsubscribe.