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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Rainey Old Boys, the new leaders in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League, will make the trip south to face struggling Wanderers at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Cashel, Nenagh Ormond and Banbridge are all poised to take advantage if the Derry side slip up at headquarters.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, November 5

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Banbridge (4th) v Naas (13th), Rifle Park

Banbridge will be expected to record their third league win on the trot when they host a Naas side that has lacked firepower so far this season.

The Kildare men were held tryless when going down 21-3 at home to Cashel last weekend, while Bann were impressive in running in four tries and conceding none to Highfield in Cork.

Keen for his charges to build on that 25-6 victory, Banbridge boss Daniel Soper told the club’s website: “We need another win to keep the pressure on the teams at the top.

“But if we maintain the level of improvement we have shown in recent weeks I am confident we can get it, and hopefully pick up another bonus point in the process.”

Cashel (2nd) v Boyne (10th), Spafield

This is set up to be an intriguing clash and one which could be crucial in terms of how these sides reflect on their first few weeks in the Ulster Bank League.

Both clubs are new to Division 2B this season and Cashel have certainly warmed to the task, picking up four successive wins and maintaining the best defensive record across all four divisions. 12 points is the most the Tipperary outfit have conceded to date in their league campaign.

Boyne, who have lost their last two games, will be smarting from their derby defeat to Navan. Still, home advantage and that miserly defence should keep Cashel on the right road.

Connemara (8th) v Armagh (5th), Monastery Field

A tight tussle in prospect here, with Armagh chasing their first away win of the league season and Connemara trying to protect their unbeaten home record.

Peter Bracken’s men have beaten Naas and Ards at home to date and will be hugely motivated to hit back after losing 40-15 at Nenagh Ormond last weekend.

Armagh, on the other hand, have had losing trips to Musgrave Park and Rifle Park so far. But the manner of their gritty 20-14 triumph over Sligo last time out suggests that they are improving each week and a victory in Clifden is well within their capabilities.

NUIM Barnhall (6th) v Nenagh Ormond (3rd), Parsonstown

Nenagh Ormond showed a clinical edge in dispatching Connemara 40-15 last Saturday, their second row Jamie Quigley breaking through for the opening try inside the first minute.

They have won on the road against Wanderers and Sligo already and with head coach Trevor Hogan and director of rugby Pat Whelan providing a good structure to their game, there is a positive outlook for the Tipperary club.

NUIM Barnhall are also making good strides, sitting nicely in sixth place thanks to two wins and two losing bonus points. With inspirational captain Eoin Hogan back at out-half, the Blue Bulls were excellent in their 29-3 victory at Ards and a repeat performance could see them topple Nenagh.

Sligo (14th) v Highfield (12th), Hamilton Park

Both of these sides could do with a fillip before a three-week break in Ulster Bank League action. Winless Sligo have pocketed three losing bonus points and will be hugely motivated to get that first win since coming up from the junior ranks.

Highfield, despite winning their first two games, are now only five points ahead of their opponents this Saturday. The Corkmen have only scored six points in their last 160 minutes of league rugby.

Sligo were let down by a sluggish start against Armagh last weekend and head coach Simon Galvan will want a much improved first half showing from his side, who did manage to beat Connemara recently in the Connacht Senior Cup.

Sunday’s Well (11th) v Ards (16th), Musgrave Park

Bottom-placed Ards are one of three clubs left in Division 2B chasing their first win. It is difficult to see them overcoming Sunday’s Well at Musgrave Park, especially given the Cork side’s recent home form.

The ‘Well have beaten Armagh and Wanderers at home so far this season, but slid down to eleventh place in the table following last weekend’s 36-9 loss at Rainey Old Boys.

Ards suffered a 29-3 defeat at home to NUIM Barnhall last time out, with Paul Cox having kicked them into an early lead. Captain Scott Young was among the players to pick up injuries in that game and the sooner the County Down side have a fully-fit squad the better.

Suttonians (9th) v Navan (7th), JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds

A tough match to call given the sides’ similar records but Suttonians are seemingly enjoying a bit of a purple patch, following home and away wins over Boyne and Wanderers respectively.

A vocal band of supporters roared the Sutton side to a 10-5 victory over Wanderers at the Aviva Stadium last Friday, a second half converted try from Dave Farrell proving to be the match-winning score.

Navan enjoyed an away win over their north east neighbours Boyne last weekend and Leon Jordaan’s charges boast a strong defence and a forward pack that is very ably led by number 8 and captain Leigh Jackson.

Wanderers (15th) v Rainey Old Boys (1st), Aviva Stadium back pitch, 4pm

Wanderers return to the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium just eight days after hosting an historic clash with Suttonians on the main one. They finished the wrong side of a tight result (10-5) and it would require a huge improvement for them to get the better of high-flying Rainey here.

The Old Boys from Magherafelt have been scoring freely so far in the campaign, with last weekend’s bonus point 36-9 success against Sunday’s Well seeing them take over at the top of the table.

They have drawn with Nenagh Ormond and beaten NUIM Barnhall on the road and on current form, should take the spoils here. The game is part of an exciting double header hosted by headquarters club Lansdowne and Wanderers.