An easy introduction for the newly-announced title sponsors, Ulster Bank, as there are only a handful of league matches this weekend, with clubs catching up on weather affected ties. One game in Division 1B, two in Division 2 and four in Division 3 means there is still enough club rugby on the cards on a big weekend in Europe.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, January 15
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
GALWEGIANS (8th) v UCC (7th), Crowley Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: WLLLLL; UCC: WLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: John Cleary 42; Tries: Ja Naughton 2; UCC: Points: Andrew Burke 49; Tries: Brian Derham, James Ryan, John Ryan, Brian O’Callaghan 2 each
Preview: Bottom of the table Galwegians badly need to turn their season around with a home victory.
On the face of it, they would be appear to be in with a reasonable chance against another struggling outfit UCC. The students lie second from bottom, behind UL Bohs on points difference.
But they did show a big improvement to defeat UL Bohs 32-23 in their most recent league outing. That makes them very dangerous opposition.
A tough second half of the season looms for both clubs, but a win here for either could be the start of something good.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, October 24, 2009: Galwegians 11 UCC 19, Crowley Park; Saturday, January 16, 2010: UCC 19 Galwegians 13, the Mardyke
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win by 1-5 points
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2:
Dublin University (11th) v Corinthians (8th), Trinity Sportsground Santry
College Park is unavailable so Dublin University will host this clash at their Santry ground.
Three places and three points separate these sides, but Connacht Senior Cup champions Corinthians have a slight edge with a game in hand.
Trinity have made themselves difficult to beat and have secured three losing bonus points in their four defeats to date and while that is not exactly the return they are looking for, this game may have a similar outcome on Saturday.
UCD (3rd) v Old Crescent (13th), Belfield, 3.30pm
UCD’s match against Corinthians fell foul of the weather last weekend, so the students have not had a league game since November 13 when they beat a dogged Midleton down at Towns Park.
Old Crescent were back in action last Saturday and despite losing at home to Belfast Harlequins, the losing bonus point they earned saw them move up to 13th in the table.
UCD may be rusty on Saturday but they will surely have enough firepower to see off the visitors. They look set to maintain their unbeaten run and notch up their sixth win in as many games.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 3:
Instonians (3rd) v Sunday’s Well (7th), Shaw’s Bridge, 1pm
This game is probably the pick of the day. Instonians sit happily near the top of Division 3 with six wins out of six but they will not be resting on their laurels when the ‘Well come calling on Saturday.
Sunday’s Well started the season brightly but have lost their last three games, albeit with two of those defeats against Banbridge and City of Derry. Losing bonus points and two try-scoring bonuses show they mean business.
The Belfast side will have their work cut out for them as the Corkmen aim to get the show back on the road. Expect an exciting, committed game here with a home win the most likely outcome.
Highfield (8th) v NUIM Barnhall (10th), Woodleigh Park
A gritty mid-table tussle is on the cards at Woodleigh Park on Saturday. Highfield are a point ahead by dint of their draw against Suttonians previously.
They also have a slight edge in the ‘points against’ column, having conceded only 86 points to Barnhall’s 117.
A tough one to call this as the Leixlip outfit have shown some good flashes in their three wins to date, while Highfield have been impressive in theirs. Home advantage could be the deciding factor.
Navan (15th) v Banbridge (5th), Balreask Old
Postponed from last week. It has not been the happiest of seasons in Navan – their only win so far came at the expense of bottom side Connemara.
Saturday might not bring much relief to the Meath team as fourth-placed Banbridge make the short trip down from Ulster.
Bann played out a 60-point cracker with Sunday’s Well in their last league match and they have three try-scoring bonus points in the bank. On form, they look likely to condemn Navan to a difficult start to 2011.
Nenagh Ormond (11th) v Ards (14th), New Ormond Park
Nenagh Ormond picked up their second win of the campaign last weekend when they beat Wanderers at New Ormond Park. They will be hoping that home advantage will assist them again this weekend.
Ards suffered a big loss at the hands of Rainey Old Boys last Saturday and are now only a point above the bottom two.
The Tipperary side have not scored many points this season, but they have the second tightest defence in this division. It may not be a high-scoring game but Nenagh should have enough in their armoury to take the points.
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