The Ulster Bank League returns this weekend and things are hotting up across all the divisions with only a few matches left to play. Division 2 kicks off with a ‘Friday Night Lights’ clash between De La Salle Palmerston and Dublin University.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, March 26
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
De La Salle Palmerston (11th) v Dublin University (10th), Kirwan Park (Friday, March 25, 8pm)
A stuttering season for both De La Salle Palmerston and Dublin University. Neither side is in the danger zone, but they have not troubled the top-four either.
DLSP lost to Ballynahinch earlier this month but beat Malone before that, while Trinity’s last game was a big win over Thomond.
Still, a floodlit Dublin derby is likely to bring out the best in both teams as well as a good crowd to soak up the atmosphere. With not much more than pride to play for, these Dublin rivals should still be fired up to get a late winning run.
There is free entry for students and children, and a meal deal in the ‘Wooden Spoon’ Bar will make the trip even more worthwhile. Click here for more.
Ballymena (3rd) v Belfast Harlequins (5th), Eaton Park
Eaton Park will be a lively spot this Saturday for a mouthwatering Ulster derby. There is a lot at stake in what is a contender for match of the day in Division 2.
Hosts Ballymena are are just ahead of Belfast Harlequins in the current table, with a one-point lead and a game in hand in the race for promotion. A win on Saturday would see them pull further ahead and tighten their grip on third place.
Harlequins slipped back after shipping a big loss to Clonakilty at the end of February and need a victory on Saturday if they are to stay in thve hunt for an automatic promotion spot.
Ballynahinch (2nd) v Old Crescent (15th), Ballymacarn Park
Second from top plays second from bottom and both have something to play for. Ballynahinch can still steal top spot from UCD as they trail by a single point and have a massive points difference.
‘Hinch and UCD secured promotion to Division 1B earlier this month, so now it is just a clear race for the title.
Old Crescent, meanwhile, can still avoid relegation as they are only three points off Clonakilty in 14th, but Saturday’s trip does not offer them much hope. A home win is most likely but the margin of it could be crucial for both sides.
Clonakilty (14th) v Midleton (8th), Shannonvale Cross
The Clonakilty faithful will be hoping that the team bottled the spirit that saw them put 51 points on Belfast Harlequins back in Februrary.
Not only was it a morale-boosting result for the Cork club, but it also sets the scene for them to chase survivial in this division.
Midleton, newly-announced as a recipient of an IRFU Club Excellence award, are sitting comfortably in mid-table. They still have a mathematical chance of a promotion spot but need a win here to stay in the hunt. A tough one to call.
Queen’s University (7th) v Malone (13th), Dub Lane
Another all-Ulster encounter, this time at Dub Lane. Queen’s University are making a late season surge and again have an outside shot at promotion. They currently lie seventh in the table.
Malone also need a win to ensure that they stay out of the danger zone as Clonakilty, Old Crescent and Thomond could still catch up with them.
The home side are favourites but can they overcome their Belfast rivals? We think the students, boosted by a recent Ulster Senior League win at Instonians, will come out on top.
Terenure College (9th) v Old Wesley (12th), Lakelands Park
An old school Dublin derby at Lakelands Park on Saturday afternoon, and a big crowd should enjoy some cracking spring rugby.
Terenure College were pipped by a point in their last outing against Corinthians and realistically, that result put an end to any outside shot they had at a play-off spot.
Old Wesley were narrowly beaten by a resurgent Queen’s University in their last league game and will be hoping to redress their win-loss ratio by beating their Dublin rivals here.
Thomond (16th) v UCD (1st), Liam Fitzgerald Park
Not really a match you would want when you are bottom of the league and staring at relegation to the Ulster Bank League’s bottom tier.
Unbeaten leaders UCD, who have scored seven bonus points to date, will come to Liam Fitzgerald Park on Saturday with the sole aim of maintaining their run.
Thomond will scrap hard on Saturday but realistically an away win is the odds on result, with the promoted ‘College side looking as strong as ever.
Bective Rangers (4th) v Corinthians (6th), Donnybrook, 5pm
Bective Rangers will be mourning the sad loss of club President Joe Nolan, and the club’s first team will aim to say farewell in a fitting way – a win at Donnybrook.
Corinthians lost narrowly to table toppers UCD earlier this month and trail Bective by five points in the curren table.
In the race for promotion this is a crucial game for both teams and well worth the admission fee if you are in the area on Saturday evening.
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