Saturday is decision day in AIB League Division 1B as promoted sides Old Belvedere and Young Munster chase a semi-final spot, and the bottom four clubs, including Ballynahinch and Ballymena who meet at Ballymacarn Park, scrap for their first division lives.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, April 10
BALLYNAHINCH (8th) v BALLYMENA (5th), Ballymacarn Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Ballynahinch: LWLLLWLLLWLLL; Ballymena: WWLLLLWWLWLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Ryan Bambry 83; Tries: Aaron Ferris 3; Ballymena: Points: David O’Hara 75; Tries: Sam McKinney 4
Preview: Bottom-of-the-table Ballynahinch desperately need a victory over their Ulster rivals if they are to avoid relegation. They will be encouraged by their effort against Old Belvedere last time out.
But there is also a lot at stake for Ballymena as they are not clear of the pressure of relegation themselves. So, this is going to be a fiercly competitive tie.
Last Season’s Meeting – Ballynahinch were in Division 2
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: Ballymena 15 Ballynahinch 13, Eaton Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win by 1-5 points
BUCCANEERS (6th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd), Dubarry Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: LLWWLLLLLLWWW; Young Munster: WLDWWWWWWWWWW
AIB League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Adam Kennedy 51; Tries: Brian Tuohy 3; Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 114; Tries: Alan Kingsley 5
Preview: Hugely important match for both teams for very different reasons. Buccaneers will be looking to avoid the drop while Young Munster still have not given up hope of overtaking Old Belvedere to secure the Division 1B play-off spot.
That makes it a very interesting game, all the more so because Buccaneers had suddenly discovered some form to move away from the bottom of the table.
That said, they are going to have to play extremely well to beat a Young Munster side that has been the model of consistency all season.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, April 11, 2009: Buccaneers 0 Young Munster 18, Dubarry Park
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: Young Munster 23 Buccaneers 3, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points
DUNGANNON (7th) v GALWEGIANS (4th), Stevenson Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Dungannon: LWWLWLLLLLLLW; Galwegians: WLLLWWLLWWLWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Dungannon: Points: James Shiells 75; Tries: Craig Gilroy 4; Galwegians: Points: Mark Butler 36; Tries: John Cleary 4
Preview: Dungannon are yet another Ulster side in fear of relegation. Currently they lie second-from-bottom, just a point behind Buccaneers and two adrift of Ballymena.
But their most recent victory over Ballymena must have given them a major boost. What s more, Galwegians have very little to play for, so they have a real chance of getting out of trouble.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, October 11, 2008: Galwegians 27 Dungannon 21, Crowley Park
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: Galwegians 15 Dungannon 13, Crowley Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dungannon to win by 1-5 points
UCC (3rd) v OLD BELVEDERE (1st), the Mardyke, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – UCC: LLWWWLWWWLWLL; Old Belvedere: WWDWLWWLWWWWW
AIB League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Andrew Burke 52; Tries: Sean Scanlon 6; Old Belvedere: Points: David Mongan 75; Tries: David Mongan 15
Preview: Hard to see Old Belvedere missing out on top spot and a place in the Division 1 semi-finals at this stage, although the Cork students are never easy to beat on their home patch.
But Belvedere would look to have too much quality, particularly as they are expected to have two Leinster players, Fergus McFadden and Eoin O’Malley, available to feature in the centre. Player-coach Andy Dunne is sure to prove another key figure at out-half.
Last Season’s Meeting – UCC were in Division 2
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: Old Belvedere 24 UCC 3, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 6-10 points