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AIB League: Division 3 Semi-Final Previews

AIB League: Division 3 Semi-Final Previews

There are two provincial derbies in the semi-finals of AIB League Division 3 on Saturday. The Queen’s points machine will play host to a Banbridge side that has improved with every game, while Midleton will seek to overcome Nenagh Ormond and secure their place in the final at Anglesea Road on May 7.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 2 SEMI-FINALS: Saturday, April 17

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY (1st) v BANBRIDGE (4th), Dub Lane, 2.30pm

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Preview: There is not much left to write about Queen’s University. Their record this season speaks for itself: fourteen wins, 580 points for, twelve try-scoring bonus points. They won the division by ten points from Cork rivals Midleton.

As in Division 2, the form book says Queen’s should take this game in their stride as they did on the opening day of the season when they beat Bann 24-6 at home. The question is can the Belfast students overcome the traditional end of season exam blight that can affect University sides?

Banbridge have had a good season, not least helping Ulster and Ireland hooker Rory Best regain his match fitness. They were never quite in the running for promotion but this could be a real building block for next season.

Dub Lane is likely to see some cracking rugby on Saturday and if Bann can blunt Queen’s attacking force then this could get interesting.

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Queen’s University win by 6-10 points

MIDLETON (2nd) v NENAGH ORMOND (3rd), Towns Park, 2.30pm

Preview: At one point in the season, Midleton seemed unstoppable. In fact they were the only team to beat Queen’s with a 25-19 win back in October. Then just a few faltering performances cost them the top spot as the Belfast students surged past them.

They still sealed promotion with thirteen wins and only one loss and one draw, but their five bonus points meant they could not catch Queen’s.

On Saturday they face a Nenagh Ormond side that will feel they have a point to prove. They started strong but had a few slip-ups along the way, only to finish strongly in third.

When the sides met back in December it was a typically tight, tough low-scoring game with Midleton winning 6-3. It may not be the same score this time around, but the hosts should progress to the Dublin final.

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