AIB League rugby returns after a two week break. Some clubs will be hoping to pick up where they left off, while others will be hoping that the break has revitalised their season. Match-by-match previews of Division 2 of the AIB League set the scene.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, December 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Bective Rangers (8th) v Highfield (14th), Donnybrook
This game has ‘home win’ written all over it and yet… Bective have won three from five games and have not lost at home in the league this season.
Highfield struggled in the early part of the season but picked up a win against Malone and followed it up with a nuggety draw against second-placed Thomond last time out. Who will be fresher after the break? Get along to Donnybrook on Saturday to find out.
Bruff (4th) v De La Salle Palmerston (3rd), Kilballyowen Park
A top drawer clash at Kilballyowen Park this weekend as the two sides are separated only by points difference. This one could be all about the hard yards.
‘Salmo have been vibrant up front under the tutelage of Leinster and Ireland ‘A’ hooker John Fogarty, while Bruff have recovered some of the form of two seasons ago that saw them concede the lowest points across the three divisions.
Neither side will want to lose ground to Lansdowne and Thomond and both will have an eye on the chasing pack.
Clonakilty (15th) v Thomond (2nd), Shannonvale Cross
Clonakilty have definitely struggled this season, their sole win so far coming against Dublin University who are a point above them in the table.
They would have wanted an easier game to get back into the swing of things – second-placed Thomond, who have lost one game in the league, are the latest visitors to the Vale. Despite slipping up against Malone last time out, the Limerick side should see off their Cork counterparts.
Corinthians (9th) v Dublin University (11th), Corinthian Park
The value of the bonus points system is clear from this game as Corinthians with three wins and Dublin University with only one (but three losing bonuses) are only six points apart in the table.
The Galway side lost heavily to Old Wesley in their last league game but before that notched impressive wins over Old Crescent, Bective and Terenure. The students’ sole win came against bottom-of-the-table Greystones in the last round of games.
Greystones (16th) v Old Wesley (7th), Dr. Hickey Park
Not the best of seasons for Greystones so far with one win in five games leaving them bottom of AIB League Division 2. Newly-promoted Wesley will have top four aspirations so this is a game they should win but you never know what will happen when neighbours come calling.
Some good, old fashioned friendly rivalry is promised at Dr. Hickey Park on Saturday.
Lansdowne (1st) v Belfast Harlequins (5th), The RDS
This is a game for all those Leinster fans missing their RDS fix to rock up to on Saturday when two clubs with huge ambitions, lots of glorious history and an eye for future silverware meet.
Can ‘Quins spoil the unbeaten run of the Dublin side? Lansdowne are nine points clear of the Belfast men and seven clear of their nearest rivals. With three wins, ‘Quins are certainly no pushovers and given they lost their last two, they will be aiming to get back to winning ways but a home win looks the more likely.
Old Crescent (13th) v UCD (6th), Rosbrien
A visit to Limerick is always tough and Crescent will not roll over for any team but UCD look to be too strong for them this weekend.
The College side are just outside the play-off spots and will see this as a chance to keep up the pressure on ‘Quins and Bruff just ahead of them in the table. Crescent need a win to keep clear of the red zone.
Terenure College (10th) v Malone (12th), Lakelands Park
A mixed season for ‘Nure so far with two wins and three losses, albeit that one of those defeats came against table toppers Lansdowe. Last time out they lost to Old Crescent and will need to be careful when Malone come calling as they did put one over on Thomond last time out.
This one should go the way of the home side though, particularly if they want to climb out of mid-table.