No change in the top two as Ballynahinch and UCD remain unbeaten in Division 2. Match of the day on Saturday is the clash of Bective Rangers and their near neighbours UCD at Donnybrook. A 4.30pm kick-off means it will be a rugby packed day at Leinster headquarters.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, February 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Kick-off times correct at time of publication. Please check with your club for any updates.
Old Crescent (14th) v Old Wesley (13th), Rosbrien, 1pm
The bottom half of the table is shaping up for the usual dogfight at the end of the season. These two sides are just clear of the danger zone, but neither can afford to slip back.
The Limerick side come into this game having picked up a losing bonus point at Midleton last weekend, while the visitors roared to a bonus point 48-10 win at home to Thomond.
Crescent have lost their last three home fixtures in the league, and Wesley, who are back on the winning trail after three successive defeats, should have the confidence to see this one out.
Ballymena (6th) v Queen’s University (9th), Eaton Park, 1.30pm
Ballymena lost out to a resurgent DLSP last weekend in a result which saw the Braidmen slip to sixth in the table. They will need to make use of their two games in hand to catch up.
This weekend they host Queen’s University who picked up a fine 44-25 win over Clonakilty to move up to ninth, only two points behind Saturday’s hosts.
Eaton Park should be a busy spot this weekend with the prospect of an Ulster derby game and the Italy v Ireland match on the TV in the clubhouse.
Ballynahinch (1st) v Dublin University (12th), Ballymacarn Park
What can you say about Ballynahinch? Unbeaten in the league, five try-scoring bonus points in seven games and only 76 points scored against them so far.
That is the challenge that faces Dublin University when they make the trip to Ballymacarn Park on Saturday.
The students put in a good performance against Bective last weekend and picked up a losing bonus point for their efforts, but it may be of little comfort against ‘Hinch, who are oozing quality in attack at the moment. Derek Suffern’s men are hot favourites to make it eight wins in eight games.
Clonakilty (16th) v Malone (11th), Shannonvale Cross
Clonakilty shipped over 40 points against Queen’s University last weekend, but their application in scoring 25 points is something to build on, with Michael O’Hea, David Lombard and Matt Kirby sharing out the tries.
Malone also come into this game on the back of a big loss, having let in over 50 against Ballynahinch. The Belfast outfit had a hat-trick of tries from Ulster’s Mark McCrea who would be a valuable asset at the Vale.
The visitors are probably better than their current standing suggests, and will see Saturday as a chance to climb back up the table.
Corinthians (7th) v Midleton (4th), Corinthian Park
Corinthians’ losing bonus point against Belfast Harlequins last Saturday means they are only five points adrift of their top four opponents.
They also have a game in hand so this game represents a good chance to make some serious gains and put themselves in a good position at one of the busiest periods of the season.
Midleton earned a tight win in a crappy Cork v Limerick tussle with Old Crescent last weekend, helped by tries from Rob Smyth and David Hurley. The 13-6 triumph moved them up to fourth in the table.
The east Cork outfit need to pick up a few try-scoring bonus points if they are to make inroads on the top two, but a win of any kind would be welcome in Galway.
Terenure College (8th) v Belfast Harlequins (5th), Lakelands Park
There was no shame for Terenure College in losing to UCD last weekend – everyone else has so far in the league – but the result saw them slip to eighth place. They are now five points behind Saturday’s visitors Belfast Harlequins.
‘Quins will be without the likes of Ulster scrum half Paul Marshall, who has been named in the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds squad, but they will buoyed by their win last weekend. Against Corinthians, they had the bonus point secured by half-time.
Both sides like to play attacking rugby, so this could be an entertaining affair at Lakelands Park. An interesting game that could be vital in terms of how the rest of the season pans out for these clubs.
Thomond (15th) v De La Salle Palmerston (10th), Liam Fitzgerald Park
Thomond suffered at the hands of revitalised Old Wesley last Saturday and are now rooted at the wrong end of the table.
De La Salle Palmerston recharged their season with a four-try 29- 22 win over Ballymena last weekend and jumped to mid-table as a result.
Can the men from Kilternan kick on from there? A trip to Limerick is never easy, but ‘Salmo, with Conor McCormick at the helm, should be good enough to take the points away from the home side.
Bective Rangers (3rd) v UCD (2nd), Donnybrook, 4.30pm
Donnybrook should see a big crowd on Saturday with the prospect of a table top clash and the RBS 6 Nations on TV in the clubhouse beforehand.
These two clubs have a long history as Bective proposed UCD for membership of the IRFU about 100 years ago, but Saturday will see ties severed for the 80 minutes on the pitch.
Rangers are four points behind their opponents, so this is a big game in the promotion stakes and a real test of character for them.
UCD have shown a willingness to run all season – full-back Michael Twomey is one to watch – but will they will be able to make this tell on Saturday? Get down to Donnybrook to find out, with a great day’s rugby in prospect.
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