There are some interesting games in Division 3 this weekend and none more so than the much-anticipated clash of second-placed Seapoint and leaders Instonians at Kilbogget Park.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 3: 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.
NUIM Barnhall (9th) v Suttonians (12th), Parsonstown, 12.30pm
Another home match for NUIM Barnhall this weekend and a chance to redress last weekend’s loss against Naas. They had some bright spells in that game, but two penalties from scrum half Rob Holt was all they had to show for their efforts.
The Leixlip side are a handy enough outfit but they are middling in terms of their results at the moment, with four wins, four losses and four bonus points (two try-scoring and two losing).
Suttonians picked up only their second league win last Saturday, eclipsing Ards at home, and are only five points adrift of their hosts.
This is a tough one to call but the hosts should be able to bounce back with a win, and the early kick-off should help bring a crowd for the Ireland game afterwards.
Banbridge (4th) v Rainey Old Boys (10th), Rifle Park
A raw-boned Ulster derby is on the cards at Rifle Park on Saturday when these two sides clash. Banbridge squeezed past a resurgent Greystones by a single point in a 26-25 thriller last weekend, with out-half Robin Thompson starring with 21 points.
Rainey lost out to Nenagh Ormond, leaking a late intercept try. The losing bonus point kept them in mid-table, but promotion now looks beyond them.
The odds have to favour Bann, who beat Rainey 43-28 in the Ulster Senior League in September. With the race for promotion hotting up, they County Down side will chase a bonus point if the game goes their way.
City Of Derry (3rd) v Wanderers (13th), Judge’s Road
City of Derry supporters will be watching the results from a few games on Saturday. They will concentrate on Wanderers first up, but will wait keenly for the outcome of the top of the table clash at Kilbogget Park between Seapoint and Instonians.
Wanderers just cannot seem to get a consistent performance this season. They have showed some good touches in sections of their games but they cannot seem to translate that into an 80-minute performance.
A home win is on the cards and a draw in Killiney could see City of Derry hit the summit. They blew off the cobwebs against Navan last time out, and an improved showing is expected from Bevan Lynch’s men.
Connemara (16th) v Sunday’s Well (7th), Monastery Field, 1pm
Sunday’s Well picked up four points in their ‘Friday Night Lights’ encounter with Highfield last weekend, giving themselves a fighting chance of a promotion or play-off spot. Out-half Danny O’Shea did the damage with a 15-point place-kicking haul.
Connemara’s young side put in a creditable performance against title challengers Seapoint last Saturday and will again aim to build their experience as well as trying to add to their solitary point to date.
Still, this should be a win for the Cork side, who are coached by Owen Mullowney and captained by Michael Moynihan. A five-point return will keep them in the hunt ahead of next week’s visit of NUIM Barnhall.
Greystones (5th) v Ards (14th), Dr. Hickey Park
A losing bonus point against Banbridge last week saw the Wicklow side slip out of the automatic promotion top four but they still pose a real threat.
Four try-scoring bonus points shows their attacking intent of Reggie Corrigan’s charges, and they will want to quickly get back to winning ways after throwing away that game at Rifle Park.
Visitors Ards, who lost out to Suttonians last Saturday, may struggle to contain ‘Stones at Dr. HIckey Park. With no automatic relegation, Ards need to use this season to blood some fresh players and rebuild for better times ahead.
Naas (6th) v Highfield (11th), Forenaughts
Kildare bragging rights safely in the pocket, Naas face another stiff challenge this weekend.
Four teams go up automatically and a fifth has a play-off shot at the end of this season and Naas, with a game in hand, can target this opportunity if they keep winning. Full-back David Aherne kicked them past NUIM Barnhall last time out.
Visitors Highfield have slipped out of contention but are probably a better side than their current standing shows. Still, a home win, albeit a tight one, is on the cards here. That would make it three in-a-row for Niall Carson’s side.
Navan (15th) v Nenagh Ormond (8th), Balreask Old
Navan will be glad that there is no relegation this season as it would be a shame to see all the hard work of recent years go to waste.
There is a changing of the guard in the squad and like other clubs, they are struggling with those changes but should bounce back in better shape.
Saturday, however, may not bring relief as Nenagh Ormond, like Naas and Sunday’s Well, have an outside shot at a promotion spot.
The departing David Corcoran scored a crucial intercept try in Nenagh’s 17-11 win at Rainey last time out, and another away win looks likely here.
Seapoint (2nd) v Instonians (1st), Kilbogget Park
The first shall be last in this week’s previews as the match of the day in Division 3 sees a table top clash at Kilbogget Park.
Seapoint saw off City Of Derry a few weeks ago in a tight affair, with Brian Keegan booting them to a 9-6 victory, and if they can do the same to ‘Inst on Saturday, the well-drilled Dubliners will go top of the table.
But ‘Inst are unbeaten and are well equipped for either a tough game or a free-flowing contest. Another difficult outcome to predict, and home advantage might just swing it. It is a game worth watching as both sides seem set to win promotion at the end of the season.
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