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AIB League: Division 2 Previews

AIB League: Division 2 Previews

The weeks tick by in Division 2 of the AIB League and with each passing game another club steps up to knock Lansdowne down. None have yet succeeded and the race is more and more about who can seal that second promotion spot with six or seven clubs in with a shout.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, January 23

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Belfast Harlequins (6th) v UCD (7th), Deramore Park

Belfast Harlequins hauled themselves back into contention last weekend with an impressive 36-point haul against Old Wesley. They now sit just three points behind second-placed DLSP, who also lost last time out.

This Saturday’s meeting is another vital game for both sides with the winner likely to move closer to that coveted promotion and play-off spot.

‘Quins have lost one game more than UCD but have secured three losing bonus points and two try bonuses to keep them in the hunt.

The students lost to Lansdowne last time out but that is no guide at this stage. A really tough game to call and well worth a visit on Saturday afternoon before catching the Ulster game in the clubhouse.

Bruff (5th) v Greystones (16th), Kilballyowen Park

Bruff are very much in the promotion race and with only two games lost, they are a tough nut for any team to crack. For a Greystones side desperate for a win this is not a welcome fixture.

Both sides come into this game off the back of a tough last outing. Greystones showed real fight against Clonakilty last weekend in their relegation tussle, while Bruff drew 6-6 in a nuggety local derby with Thomond.

Bruff have lost to Lansdowne and Dublin University, so Greystones could aim for a Leinster treble but it is far more likely that the host club will emerge with the points intact.

Corinthians (10th) v Highfield (13th), Corinthian Park

Corinthians have the same win/loss ratio as Belfast Harlequins but with only one bonus point, they are four points and four places behind ‘Quins in the standings.

The Galway side were surprisingly beaten by Malone last weekend so they will not be a soft touch this Saturday. Highfield, by contrast, may be ring rusty as their game against ‘Nure was postponed.

Highfield badly need a win to lift them out of the bottom four. Wins for ‘Stones and Malone last time out mean that a bad result could now see any of the four bottom sides drop into danger.

Lansdowne (1st) v Dublin University (11th), The RDS

For Leinster fans who cannot make the trip to London this weekend this could be a substitute fix. Table toppers Lansdowne entertain yet another club hoping to take their scalp.

The students from UCD could not manage it last Saturday and it is unlikely that the Trinity lads, four places and six points adrift of them, will knock the divisional leaders off their stride.

Lansdowne have scored four or more tries in six out of their eight wins showing they have real attacking intent every time they line out.

Dublin University have struggled this season but their five losing bonus points in six games suggest they have a bit of mettle and will not make it easy for the table toppers. A win for Lansdowne is still odds on nonetheless.

Old Crescent (14th) v Malone (12th), Rosbrien

It says something about the competitive nature of Division 2 that while the top seven sides are all still in a play-off race and the bottom six are within five points of each other. It will be a scrap all the way for some clubs.

None more so than these two sides. Both have stuttered this season but neither will feel they should be in the relegation zone so a four of five point swing in favour of either would be a real bonus

Crescent’s win over Dublin University last weekend was a boost and Malone’s scalp against Corinthians means that this clash is vital and equally difficult to call.

Old Wesley (4th) v Clonakilty (15th), Donnybrook

Wesley’s winning run came to an end last Saturday when Belfast Harlequins came calling but the Dublin club, last season’s Division 3 champions, are still in resurgent form.

They are in a good position to challenge for promotion again this season which would be some achievement. In fourth place, a win this weekend would pile the pressure on DLSP and Bective ahead of them in the charge.

For Clon this is their second trip to Dublin in as many weeks and it may prove as fruitless as the trip to Greystones last Saturday.

Terenure College (9th) v De La Salle Palmerston (2nd), Lakelands Park

A local derby that should bring a good crowd to Lakelands to enjoy the game and then settle in for the Leinster clash afterwards.

‘Nure’s mixed season sees them in the mid-zone and they will be more than ready for this game having missed out due to postponement last Saturday.

De La Salle missed the chance to pull clear of the pack last time out when Bective held them in check. They will travel to Lakelands with confidence, however, and should emerge with the points albeit that their hosts have the second tightest defence in the division.

Bective Rangers (3rd) v Thomond (8th), Donnybrook (Sunday, January 24)

Both clubs will know the size of their challenge on Sunday morning, not that it will have a material effect on the game – they both need the win to stay in the race.

Bective’s win over ‘Salmo last Saturday pulled them into third spot, while Thomond’s draw with Bruff will ultimately be seen as points lost as they dropped behind UCD and ‘Quins in the table.

Five places and four points separate the sides and a win for the Limerick side would see them do to Rangers what was done to ‘Salmo the week before. Expect a tight game with little between the teams and there is a sniff of an away win here.