After an eventful first month in Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League, four teams are locked level on 14 points at the top of the table. Leaders De La Salle Palmerston will be hoping to return to winning ways against Bective this weekend, while fellow strugglers Instonians and Clonakilty clash at Shaw’s Bridge.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, November 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
De La Salle Palmerston (1st) v Bective Rangers (10th), Kirwan Park
De La Salle Palmerston’s second half comeback was not enough against Greystones last Friday as their unbeaten three-match run came to an end.
‘Salmo are still in pole position nonetheless, and look well-placed to take the verdict here. They have scored almost double Bective’s points tally to date and should be able to tighten up their defence and discipline from last weekend’s game.
Bective director of rugby Ben Kealy will have been pleased with their 22-18 defeat of Queen’s University last time out, with Will O’Donovan, John Byrne and Paul Hatton crossing for tries. But DLSP should prove too strong this Saturday.
Dublin University (5th) v Old Crescent (6th), College Park
Dublin University collected their third win of the league campaign when outlasting Corinthians 9-6 out west. Out-half and captain Dave Joyce kicked three first half penalties in a game the students led from start to finish.
Like Trinity, Old Crescent are motoring along nicely at this early stage of the season. The Limerick side had a won 2, drawn 1 record before last Saturday’s tight reversal to Seapoint – 25-23.
Will this be a winning trip for them to the capital? The opening quarter will reveal much about Crescent’s hopes. A victory here and they could leapfrog Trinity and one or two other sides.
Instonians (15th) v Clonakilty (16th), Shaw’s Bridge
It just has not happened for Instonians so far this season, but they will be targeting this game as the starting point for their revival after four league defeats on the trot.
There are encouraging signs though, most noteworthy are the return of Alan Whitten and Stephen Douglas to first team duty and the recent improvements in set piece play and discipline.
Clonakilty are also winless to date, their only point so far coming from last weekend’s 24-21 home defeat to Thomond. Unfortunately Clon have had to get used to poor starts in recent years, but Dave O’Mahony is confident his charges can turn things around – winning in Belfast would be a timely boost.
Malone (7th) v Corinthians (4th), Gibson Park
Corinthians missed out on a chance to take top spot in the division when they were edged out by Dublin University. It was a blip at the end of what was a promising October period for the Galway side, who now have Ireland Under-20 internationals Kieran Marmion and Finlay Bealham playing for them.
This Saturday they face a Malone side that is having an up and down campaign dotted with home wins and away losses. They are particularly tough to beat at Gibson Park and are sure to be pumped up after losing to Terenure College last time out.
It was a game Jacques Benade’s men should have won, having built a 15-3 lead with tries from wingers Chris Leathem and Taylor Acheson. They cannot afford to lose concentration against another talented team like Corinthians.
Old Wesley (2nd) v City of Derry (14th), Donnybrook
Two early tries from barnstorming number 8 Richie Murphy set the tone for Old Wesley’s bonus point 33-18 win at Instonians last Saturday. Back on home soil, they are heavily favoured to gain a similar result against a struggling City of Derry side.
The visitors grabbed an encouraging 40-34 Ulster Senior Cup victory over Ballynahinch recently, but their return to Division 2A action saw them lose to Midleton (24-14).
Derry boss Bevan Lynch will be hoping for a quick change in fortunes but Wesley, if they can maintain their discipline and focus, should be celebrating their third league victory come full-time.
Queen’s University (3rd) v Terenure College (9th), Dub Lane
Queen’s University slipped to third in the standings when losing their 100% record to Bective Rangers, but this game offers them an ideal opportunity to swiftly get back on track.
Visitors Terenure College have won their two home matches so far and lost to City of Derry and Dublin University on the road.
Ian Morgan’s ‘Nure side completed a superb 13-point comeback against Malone last time out, with out-half Conor Gildea landing a late drop goal. However, home advantage should steer Queen’s on their way here.
Seapoint (12th) v Midleton (13th), Kilbogget Park
Seapoint claimed a much-needed 25-23 win on their first ever visit to Old Crescent in the previous round, putting an end to a two-match losing streak.
The Dubliners also beat Bective Rangers in their Division 2A opener at Kilbogget Park and a third home victory would get them closer to mid-table. Indeed, this tie could be one decided by home advantage.
Midleton, coached by Dave O’Brien, opened their win account against City of Derry last Saturday. Kevin Brierley and Gareth Hogan scored a try apiece, and Jeff Hitchmough was responsible for the remaining 14 points (a try, three conversions and a penalty).
Thomond (8th) v Greystones (11th), Liam Fitzgerald Park
Greystones’ impressive 10-point triumph over local rivals DLSP, which was featured on Irish Rugby TV’s YouTube Channel this week, was a sign of the young Wicklow side’s potential.
Whether they can get the consistency required to push further up the table remains to be seen, but their head coach Reggie Corrigan will be determined to back that result up.
Hosts Thomond, however, are unbeaten in their last three games including wins over Instonians and Clonakilty. Eugene Payne’s injury-time try did the trick against Clon last Saturday and should ‘Stones put their best foot forward, the Limerick men will be tested again right to the final whistle.