There is a full round of games in Division 1B of the AIB League this weekend with three Saturday matches and leaders Old Belvedere entertaining bottom side Buccaneers on Sunday at Anglesea Road.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, January 30
BALLYMENA (5th) v UCC (3rd), Eaton Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Ballymena: WWLLLLWWL; UCC: LLWWWLWWW
AIB League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: Rory Drysdale 47; Tries: Sam McKinney 4; UCC: Points: Andrew Burke 43; Tries: Ivan Dineen, Sean Scanlon 4 each
Preview: Divison 1B has been a bit of a two horse race in recent weeks but UCC will not give up the chase just yet. They travel north again this weekend – having beaten Dungannon last Saturday – this time to face the Braidmen of Ballymena.
Ballymena lost to Old Belvedere last weekend but beat Dungannon the week before, while UCC also beat Buccaneers in recent weeks.
The Ulster side will not be an easy touch but the ‘College boys should have enough in the tank to keep them in the promotion hunt or at least keep the pressure on the top two.
Last Season’s Meeting – UCC were in Division 2
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 10, 2009: UCC 28 Ballymena 31, The Mardyke
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCC to win by 1-5 points
GALWEGIANS (4th) v BALLYNAHINCH (7th), Crowley Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Galwegians: WLLLWWLLW; Ballynahinch: LWLLLWLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Mark Butler 36; Tries: Mark Butler, John Cleary, Ati Olive 3 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Ryan Bambry 50; Tries: Jonny Cullen, Nevin Spence 2 each
Preview: Galwegians have won four out of their nine games but have managed a losing bonus point in four others, suggesting they are team that plays to the final whistle. Last weekend’s dramatic win over Buccaneers, courtesy of an injury-time drop goal from Dave Clarke, confirms as much.
Their haul of 21 points probably will not see them challenging the top two but they won’t lack ambition for all that. They come into the game armed with Connacht bragging rights from their single point win over Buccs.
Derek Suffern’s Ballynahinch charges have found the going tough since last season’s all-conquering run in domestic and national competitions and now face the prospect of a relegation battle with Buccaneers and Ulster rivals Dungannon.
A win this weekend would mean that their clash with the Stevenson Park outfit in February could decide the fate of both clubs.
Last Season’s Meeting – Ballynahinch were in Division 2
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 10, 2009: Ballynahinch 25 Galwegians 24, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win by 6-10 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v DUNGANNON (6th), Tom Clifford Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Young Munster: WLDWWWWWW; Dungannon: LWWLWLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 70; Tries: Alan Kingsley, Aaron Carroll, Clem Casey, Derek Corcoran 2 each; Dungannon: Points: James Shiells 35; Tries: Craig Gilroy, Stuart McKenzie 2 each
Preview: Young Munster have won more games and lost fewer games than Old Belvedere but their two bonus points to ‘Belvo’s six is a telling statistic.
The Cookies should handle the Dungannon challenge at Tom Clifford Park and really need to target a bonus point win.
The Ulster club could do with an easier challenge this weekend having lost to UCC and Ballymena in recent weeks but an eight-team league is an unforgiving place and this has home win written all over it. With international referee Alan Lewis in charge, it should be a good day’s rugby.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, December 6, 2008: Young Munster 16 Dungannon 17, Tom Clifford Park
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 10, 2009: Dungannon 14 Young Munster 8, Stevenson Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points
OLD BELVEDERE (1st) v BUCCANEERS (8th), Anglesea Road, 2.30pm (Sunday, January 31)
AIB League Current Form – Old Belvedere: WWDWLWWLW; Buccaneers: LLWWLLLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: David Mongan 60; Tries: David Mongan 12; Buccaneers: Points: Adam Kennedy 34; Tries: Billy Henshaw, Brian Tuohy, Martin Staunton, John O’Brien, JH Potgieter, Colm Rigney, Conor Higgins, Conor Lavelle 1 each
Preview: Old Belvedere will surely miss the attacking skills of Fergus McFadden this weekend – he is on Ireland ‘A’ duty against England Saxons – but assistant coach Andy Dunne, slotting in at out-half, will have his back-line well marshalled.
‘Belvo ran up 36 points against Buccaneers back in October and should be capable of repeating the win again this weekend – any slip-up would probably see Young Munster take advantage.
‘Belvo’s four try-scoring bonus points show they have talent out wide, particularly in the form of leading try scorer David Mongan, and can punish mistakes so Buccs will need to tighten up their defence.
The visitors badly need a win to climb of the bottom of the league standings but they probably won’t find what they need at Anglesea Road on Sunday.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, April 18, 2009: Buccaneers 22 Old Belvedere 16, Dubarry Park
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 10, 2009: Buccaneers 12 Old Belvedere 36, Dubarry Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by over 10 points