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Ulster Bank League: Division 2 Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2 Previews

It is tough at the top in Division 2 and with only eight points between Ballynahinch in first place and Belfast Harlequins in seventh, there are some hugely important games to play over the coming weeks.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, January 29

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Belfast Harlequins (7th) v Corinthians (8th), Deramore Park

What might be described as a mid-table clash has a bit more to it than that as both teams could make up significant ground on the top-four this weekend.

Belfast Harlequins’ win on the road at Old Crescent last time out boosted their win-loss ratio, and their three try-scoring bonus points to date mean they are a threat. But can they keep their points against tally down?

Corinthians’ Bateman All-Ireland Cup semi-final against Dungannon was called off last week due to a frozen pitch. Their last game in the league was a low-scoring two-point win over Dublin University.

De La Salle Palmerston (12th) v Ballymena (4th), Kirwan Park

De La Salle Palmerston picked up a much needed, morale-boosting win over Dublin rivals Old Wesley last time out, lifting them out of the bottom four.

Will that victory galvanise them for better things? This Saturday offers little in the way of comfort.

Ballymena, with two games in hand on the league leaders, can have serious designs on promotion and, with four try-scoring bonus points, they should prove more than capable of increasing their points tally at Kirwan Park.

Dublin University (11th) v Bective Rangers (3rd), College Park

Dublin can be heaven, with coffee at 11 and then a match at College Park! But the students may not be singing come tea time on Saturday.

Bective have quietly and efficiently played themselves into third in the division, but they need to keep winning as the teams around them have games in hand.

Trinity are difficult to beat, as their four losing bonus points show, but Bective should be the ones celebrating this weekend. Especially if they show the sort of the form which helped them dispatch Malone 28-13 in their most recent league outing.

Malone (9th) v Ballynahinch (1st), Gibson Park

Ballynahinch seem to be unstoppable this season and while they may not win all the silverware as they did a few years back, promotion is on the cards if they keep their current run up.

An incredible points’ difference of +159 points shows just how strong this outfit are, and Ireland Wolfhounds recognition for Nevin Spence, Willie Faloon and Ian Whitten is a further boost to the County Down club.

Their Gibson Park hosts are hovering in mid-table and would dearly love to put one over on ‘Hinch, but home comfort could be cold comfort on Saturday.

The sides met in the Ulster Senior League last weekend with Ballynahinch claiming a 64-5 home victory. With a number of regulars returning the starting line-up, Malone will make it much closer this time around.

Midleton (5th) v Old Crescent (14th),Towns Park

Terry Kingston’s Midleton are another side flying under the radar in Division 2 this season. Five wins in seven games sees them sitting nicely at the business end of the table.

Their one failing so far is that they only have one bonus point to their name in a division where the top four have thirteen between them.

A Cork-Limerick matchup is rarely one for the faint of heart and neither side will lack for motivation. Old Crescent, with just one win in the bag this season, badly need a result, though possibly the best they can hope for this weekend is a losing bonus point.

As an aside, Crescent must be commended for bringing through some talented youngsters at the moment – recent league debutants, Sean Cunningham and Padraig Monaghan (both 19), are proof of that.

Old Wesley (13th) v Thomond (15th), Donnybrook

A tough season for Eric Miller’s Old Wesley side following the highs of previous campaigns. This is a straightforward relegation dogfight.

Both sides have only a single win in the league this season and while Thomond have the slight advantage of a game in hand, Old Wesley seem to have the upper hand in the ‘points for’ stakes. They let a half-time lead slip against DLSP last weekend, and will be keen to make up for that.

Thomond will be eager to get back into the swing of things given they have not played a league match since November, but they may be leaving Donnybrook empty handed on Saturday. Phil Hosie and the home side should see to that.

Queen’s University (10th) v Clonakilty (16th), Dub Lane

The students from Queen’s University have struggled to repeat their all-conquering form from last season, but they should be able to survive the transition to Division 2 – albeit without troubling the upper levels of the table.

Visitors Clonakilty picked up a much-needed first win in the league earlier this month. Last season saw them revive their flagging fortunes with a New Year surge.

Can Clon repeat the feat again in 2011? Saturday’s trip to Belfast will provide a pointer to that.

UCD (2nd) v Terenure College (6th), Belfield

UCD saw their cup double hopes dashed last weekend when they lost out to a late Bruff surge in the Bateman All-Ireland Cup semi-final.

Bad news then for their league opponents as they will redouble their efforts, despite this being their second big game in the space of six days.

Terenure are one of the chasing pack with ambitions still intact, but a Saturday afternoon at Belfield will test their resolve.

They will not want to lose ground to those around them, but this well-drilled UCD side, marshalled by centre Andy Cummiskey, just seem to have too much firepower for most of their rivals this season. A home triumph should see little change in the top two.

Related Links –

Ulster Bank League Tables