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AIB League: Division 1B Previews

AIB League: Division 1B Previews

Mike Prendergast’s Young Munster will fancy their chances of maintaining their lead at the top of AIB League Division 1B when they entertain a struggling Ballynahinch side. Old Belvedere, in second place, will want to get back to winning ways quickly, while UCC have a tricky trip to Dungannon to negotiate, and bragging rights and crucial league points are on the line for Connacht rivals Galwegians and Buccaneers.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, January 23

BALLYMENA (4th) v OLD BELVEDERE (2nd), Eaton Park, 2.30pm

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AIB League Current Form – Ballymena: WWLLLLWW; Old Belvedere: WWDWLWWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Rory Drysdale 47; Tries: Sam McKinney 4; Old Belvedere: Points: David Mongan 55; Tries: David Mongan 11

Preview: After their dramatic injury-time defeat to Young Munster, Old Belvedere face another tough outing away to Ballymena.

They will not need any reminding that the Ulster side made them work very hard at Anglesea Road earlier in the season. Old Belvedere eventually won 28-21 but it took a 17-point contribution from Fergus McFadden to see them home.

The crucial factor will surely be the Old Belvedere forwards’ ability to get the right sort of ball for the likes of Andy Dunne, McFadden and top try scorer David Mongan to thrive on.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, January 17, 2009: Ballymena 0 Old Belvedere 12, Eaton Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 1-5 points

DUNGANNON (6th) v UCC (3rd), Stevenson Park, 2.30pm

AIB League Current Form – Dungannon: LWWLWLL; UCC: LLWWWLWW 
AIB League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: James Shiells 32; Tries: Craig Gilroy, Stuart McKenzie 2 each; UCC: Points: Andrew Burke 43; Tries: Ivan Dineen, Sean Scanlon 4 each

Preview: The Cork students are very much Division 1B’s form team, their winning run having brought them to within five points of second-placed Old Belvedere.

Dungannon, by comparision, have tended to be very erractic but are quite capable of upsetting the odds on their home patch.

Last Season’s Meeting – UCC were in Division 2

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dungannon to win by 1-5 points

GALWEGIANS (5th) v BUCCANEERS (8th), Crowley Park, 2.30pm

AIB League Current Form – Galwegians: WLLLWWLL; Buccaneers: LLWWLLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Mark Butler 36; Tries: Mark Butler, John Cleary, Ati Olive 3 each; Buccaneers: Points: Adam Kennedy 31; Tries: Billy Henshaw, Brian Tuohy, Martin Staunton, John O’Brien, JH Potgieter, Colm Rigney 1 each

Preview: There is generally very little between these Connacht rivals. Buccaneers got the better of matters 15-8 when the sides met at Dubarry Park earlier in the season.

But their form has been disappointing subsequently, while Galwegians have shown an improvement. They will surely fancy their chances of taking revenge at home here.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, February 7, 2009: Buccaneers 8 Galwegians 9, Dubarry Park 

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win by 1-5 points

YOUNG MUNSTER (1st) v BALLYNAHINCH (7th), Tom Clifford Park, 2.30pm

AIB League Current Form – Young Munster: WLDWWWWW; Ballynahinch: LWLLLWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 55; Tries: Alan Kingsley, Clem Casey, Aaron Carroll, Derek Corcoran 3 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Ryan Bambry 41; Tries: Nevin Spence, Jonny Cullen 2 each

Preview: Young Munster will be strongly fancied to secure another success to keep them at the top of the table. They can do little wrong under the expert guidance of player-coach Mike Prendergast. They have a very strong pack and give precious little away in defence.

What is more, confidence must be very high after Alan Kingsley’s injury-time penalty gave them that dramatic success over Old Belvedere last weekend.

Last Season’s Meeting – Ballynahinch were in Division 2

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points