Balreask Old should witness a cracking interprovincial tie on Saturday as Navan and Clonakilty, two of five unbeaten teams in AIB League Division 3, put their 100% records on the line. There is a full programme of matches down for decision in Division 3. Read on for full details.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 3: Saturday, October 24
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Ards (13th) v Wanderers (4th), Hamilton Park
Hamilton Park is well worth a visit on Saturday afternoon as you warm up for the Ulster v Leinster clash at Ravenhill later in the day. This one looks set to go the way of Wanderers, who boast two wins from two already and have former Leinster ace Christian Warner at number 10. Ards are seeking their first win.
County Carlow (15th) v Banbridge (14th), Oak Park
While the Banbridge minis host Rory Best and the Grand Slam trophies on Saturday morning, their senior team are on the road to Carlow chasing a win having lost to Queens and Inst to date. Carlow picked up a losing bonus last week and Jason Jones’ young side look to be improving with each passing week – talented out-half Richie Whyte is ‘beginning to believe in himself’ according to Jones.
Instonians (2nd) v Barnhall (3rd), Shaw’s Bridge
Instonians were crowned play-off champions a few seasons back and their early season form suggests they may be in the mix again for promotion. They face their first non-Ulster test this weekend when Kildare out-half Barnhall come calling. With both sides on nine points, this could prove an interesting game. Statistics wise, this is Barnhall’s first visit to Shaw’s Bridge – they beat Inst 28-11 at Parsonstown in April 2001.
Naas (16th) v Portadown (11th), Forenaughts
Ports got an early season welcome to Division 3 when they shipped 40 points against Inst. But they recovered enough to beat Nenagh Ormond last time out, with a strong scrum and former Ballymena player Craig Woods’ influence at scrum half proving crucial. Naas are bottom of the division having lost to Midleton and provincial neighbours Navan. It has been a tough baptism for new Naas coach Andy Wood and his assistant Simon O’Donnell who both made the switch from Clontarf.
Navan (1st) v Midleton (5th), Balreask Old
Navan, led by Australian player-coach Brad Harris, are a club with ambition having made the jump up to AIB League level. With two wins from two under their belts, the Meath men have made a very good start but they now step outside the comfort zone of internal provincial rivalry (Carlow and Naas are their two scalps) as they face Midleton who also have two wins to their name.
Nenagh Ormond (6th) v Sunday’s Well (8th), New Ormond Park
Tipp against Cork at New Ormond Park. Both teams have a win. The ‘Well beat Rainey on the opening weekend but lost to Wanderers the following week. Nenagh Ormond’s sole triumph so far came against Connemara on the opening day, and prop Fergal Brislane is obviously eager for them to return to winning ways. He said: “We have always had to work hard for results against the ‘Well and the minds have been well focused on the task in hand in training this week. It’s one to look forward to and after a tough fortnight on the road, we’ll all be chomping at the bit for a chance to play at home again and hopefully get things back on track from a results perspective.”
Queen’s University (7th) v Connemara (10th), Dub Lane
Queen’s University upset the odds in the AIB Cup beating Dungannon last weekend, giving them a boost ahead of this game. Full-back David McIlwaine and scrum half Ian Porter are two players to watch for the Robbie Moore-coached students. Both sides have picked up a win so far in the league, with Queen’s beating Banbridge and Connemara overcoming Ards. The men from the west lost 26-15 when Queen’s visited Monastery Field last season.
Rainey Old Boys (12th) v Suttonians (9th), Hatrick Park
Another chance for Leinster fans to catch some good old fashioned club rugby on Saturday afternoon before heading to Ravenhill. Suttonians, who will be visiting Magherafelt for the first time, opened their win account against Carlow last time out, thanks to tries from prop Emmet Conroy and influential out-half Simon Lewis. Rainey were AIB Junior Cup champions some seasons back but have struggled to repeat that form since achieving promotion to the AIB League. Flanker Simon Hawe and full-back Rodney Paul are set to return from injury.