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AIB League: Division 3 Previews

AIB League: Division 3 Previews

Midleton will take some stopping in Division 3 of the AIB League but Queen’s University and Wanderers are waiting in the wings if they do slip up. With the Christmas break to come, every team will want to face the festive season with a win under their belts.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 3: Saturday, December 12

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Queen’s University (2nd) v Naas (14th), Dub Lane, 2pm

Expect Naas to bring a good few supporters to Dub Lane. Budget or not, the shopping may prove as attractive as the rugby.

Queen’s University are flying high on 20 points and have a game in hand. They have also managed three try bonuses in their five games. They are playing some great rugby and are well worth watching even if you are a neutral.

Naas are struggling with one win in seven games but they have managed four losing bonus points which suggests they do not give up easily. A home win looks on the cards all the same.

Sunday’s Well (6th) v Connemara (15th), Musgrave Park, 2pm

The ‘Well are just outside the play-off zone and are going nicely with three wins on the trot against Barnhall, Suttonians and Ards.

Connemara are finding the going tough this season with a win over Ards and a losing bonus against Wanderers providing their only joy in five games.

The ‘Well support will offer warm welcome at Muzzer for their Connacht visitors. Cork may be one of the top destinations in Europe according to the Lonely Planet but it may prove a difficult trip for Connemara.

Wanderers (3rd) v Portadown (13th), Merrion Road, 2pm

Five wins and 20 points sees Wanderers nicely in third place in Division 3. But a look at their results shows that they have struggled a wee bit against teams lower down the table.

Last weekend they beat Connemara by a single penalty to nil, albeit in tough conditions. The week before they slipped to a surprising loss to Barnhall.

Portadown have managed two wins in their six games and a couple of losing bonus points. They have not won since October and while they should give the Dublin 4 side a good run, this still looks to be a home win.

Ards (12th) v Midleton (1st), Hamilton Park

It is a long haul from Towns Park to Hamilton Park but the Midleton faithful will make the trip with confidence this Saturday. Six wins out of six, 25 points and top of the table. The only possible blemish is the lack of try bonuses.

Ards come into this game on the back of a heavy defeat to Banbridge last weekend, while Midleton squeaked a narrow victory over Nenagh Ormond last weekend. An away win looks to be on the cards but Ards may not make it easy.

Instonians (5th) v County Carlow (16th), Shaw’s Bridge

Four wins out of five for Instonians with their only loss coming at the hands of the unbeaten Midleton. They won the play-off title if not promotion a few seasons back and one suspects they would dearly like to be in the mix again come the end of the season.

Carlow are without a win and will find themselves under pressure from the well drilled ‘Inst pack on Saturday. This is a tough season for the Leinster club and this game will not make it any easier for them.

Nenagh Ormond (4th) v Navan (11th), New Ormond Park

Navan won their first two games following promotion but have found the going tough since. They have still managed a haul of four bonus points – two try-scoring and two losing – which suggests that they will not be dropping back down and that this season is about consolidation.

Their hosts on Saturday, by contrast, should have play-off and promotional aspirations still in mind. They have three wins under their belt and a draw against Barnhall. They will see this a ‘should win’ game but they will not take the gritty Meath side lightly.

Expect a good level of support at New Ormond Park on Saturday as Navan usually travel with good support but one suspects it may be a slightly quieter trip home.

Rainey Old Boys (9th) v Banbridge (7th), Hatrick Park

With six Ulster clubs in Division 3 the local derbies are a big feature. Both sides have picked up three wins out of six games. Banbridge have four bonus points to Rainey’s two which is all that separates them.

The ingredients are all here therefore a cracking game in Hatrick Park on Saturday.

Rainey beat Portadown and Connemara in their two most recent games while Banbridge beat Ards and lost narrowly to Nenagh Ormond prior to that.

Suttonians (10th) v Barnhall (8th), JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds

An interesting Dublin derby this. A mid-table tussle which could see either club jump a few places if other results go their way.

The home side beat Naas last weekend but lost to Sunday’s Well prior to that, while Barnhall lost to the ‘Well last weekend but picked up a great win over Wanderers in mid November.

A difficult one to call as both sides will be going hammer and tongs. Home advantage could be a factor but do not be surprised to see the Leixlip outfit take the spoils.