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AIB League: Division 2 Previews

AIB League: Division 2 Previews

After the big freeze wrecked last weekend’s plans, the AIB League finally gets back to business after the Christmas break. The big question in Division 2 is can anyone catch Lansdowne? UCD will give it a go this weekend. Meanwhile, with only eight points between the second and tenth-placed teams, the race for promotion and the play-offs is still very much on.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, January 16

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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De La Salle Palmerston (2nd) v Bective Rangers (6th), Kirwan Park

Five points separate these teams in the table with ‘Salmo having won five from seven and Bective four from seven.
De La Salle are obviously benefitting from the input of John Fogarty on the coaching front.

Their only loss in the league this season came at the hands of Old Wesley back in October. They come into this game having beaten Thomond and drawn with Bruff in their last two league games.

Bective also drew recently, with UCD, and squeaked past Highfield before that.

This should get the blood warmed up at Kirwan Park on Saturday as neither side can afford to lose and it will serve as a chance for Leinster fans to warm up their cheering voices too!

Dublin University (11th) v Old Crescent (15th), College Park (Match moved to Kilbogget Park, Seapoint)

*Please note venue change to Kilbogget Park, Seapoint RFC

Both sides have struggled to find a run of form this season. Trinity have won two games, while Cresent have only managed one win so far.

Home advantage should help the students but the winter break may have hampered their training schedule more. Trinity had a good win over Bruff last time out and lost narrowly to Corinthians prior to that.

Old Crescent have lost to Old Wesley and UCD in their last two games so they will be hoping to buck the trend against Leinster opposition this weekend. They badly need the win to get out of the relegation zone.

Greystones (16th) v Clonakilty (14th), Dr. Hickey Park

This is already a relegation dog-fight with both sides needing a win if they are to survive in Division 2.

Like Old Crescent, Greystones have managed only one win in their seven league games so far, while Clon have mustered a single win and a draw to date.

Clonakilty also have a game in hand so they probably have a slight advantage in the relegation stakes. Clon’s drawn game was against Malone before Christmas, while ‘Stones lost to Highfield and Old Wesley in their last two league encounters.

With relegation looming, this is game that could have a real edge and while Greystones may sell a few more copies of their ‘revealing’ 2010 calendar, expect Clon to be leaving Wicklow with the points.

Highfield (12th) v Terenure College (7th), Woodleigh Park (Match postponed due to unplayable pitch)

Highfield should be clear of the relegation dog-fight but a win this weekend would make the Woodleigh Park faithful feel a bit more comfortable.

This is their third game against Leinster opposition and they are 50/50 so far with a win at home over Greystones and a loss to Bective in the account.

‘Nure may still entertain hopes of reaching the last-four and a win here is a real necessity if they are to stake a serious claim.

They have won four out of their seven games so far and with wins over Belfast Harlequins and Malone in their last two games, they should have the firepower to subdue a game Highfield outfit.

Malone (13th) v Corinthians (9th), Gibson Park

A bit like Highfield, Belfast side Malone badly need a win this weekend to drag them clear of the relegation zone.

With one win and one draw to their name, they are level on points with Clonakilty, whom they drew with last time out.

Corinthians are nine points ahead of them in the standings and with a four/three win loss they could still secure a decent finish to the season.

Like everyone else in Division 2 so far, they lost to Lansdowne in their last game and prior to that they beat Dublin University. The Galway side may be down a few contracted players with Connacht in action on Friday night but should be able to prevail in Belfast.

Old Wesley (3rd) v Belfast Harlequins (10th), Donnybrook

The rejuvenation in Old Wesley has seen them go from winning Division 3 last season to chasing a promotion spot in Division 2 this term.

Five wins and three try-scoring bonuses mean they are serious contenders to fill the second promotion place and feature in the play-offs.

By contrast ‘Quins have struggled to find a consistent vein of form. They have won three games and managed three losing bonuses from their four losses.They are hard to beat but they have yet to prove they can regain past glories.

Wesley beat Greystones and Old Crescent in their last two games, while the Belfast side lost to Terenure and gave Lansdowne their sternest test of the season.

With Leinster at home a few hours later, Donnybrook should get a good crowd on Saturday afternoon and will probably see a home win.

Thomond (8th) v Bruff (4th), Liam Fitzgerald Park

Four places and four points separate these two Limerick sides, not that you need any stats or incentive to heat up what should be a real humdinger of a local derby.

Speaking of Munster – the province are away to Treviso so fans should pack out the clubhouse before catching this game.

Thomond have a game in hand so a win on Saturday would put them right back in contention for a top four finish and a play-off spot. Bruff will not roll over and they still have hopes of a promotion place so there is a lot riding on this result – not just the local bragging rights.

UCD (5th) v Lansdowne (1st), Belfield

Step up to the plate UCD. Lansdowne have taken on all comers and emerged victorious so far this season in the AIB League.

If the Belfield students had their spies out at the Lansdowne v Belfast Harlequins game last month, they might have spotted a few chinks in the armour and this is their chance to exploit them!

This capital clash should be another appetiser for the Leinster game later in the day and if you want to catch a potentially cracking game of club rugby then this is the one for you.

The stats? Lansdowne have seven wins and five try bonuses so UCD will need to have their defence in brilliant shape to get the win.