In the final round of Division 1B matches before the Christmas break, all eyes will be on the top of the table clash between Ballymena and Ballynahinch at Eaton Park. Bruff have ground to make up against Belfast Harlequins, while Buccaneers are hoping to get back on track against an in-form Dungannon side.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, December 3
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BALLYMENA (2nd) v BALLYNAHINCH (1st), Eaton Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: WLWWDW; Ballynahinch: WWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballymena: Points: John Semple 43; Tries: Richard Aingworth 4; Ballynahinch: Points: James Lash 48; Tries: Aaron Ferris 4
Preview: A cracking match in prospect between the top two sides in the Division 1B table. It is a huge test for leaders Ballynahinch.
So far, they have always come up with the goods, apart from losing away to Buccaneers. Ballymena though will not be lacking in confidence following their big 30-13 away demolition of UL Bohs last Saturday.
John Andrews’ Braidmen only trail Ballynahinch by a point, so a victory would put them top of the pile heading into the festive season.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 10, 2010: Ballynahinch 35 Ballymena 20, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, October 30, 2010: Ballymena 15 Ballynahinch 18, Eaton Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win by 1-5 points
BRUFF (9th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (5th), Kilballyowen Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Bruff: LWLLLL; Belfast Harlequins: WLWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Bruff: Points: Brian Cahill 42; Tries: John Shine 3; Belfast Harlequins: Points: Michael Heaney 56; Tries: Neil McComb, Rory Scholes 2 each
Preview: It is about time that Bruff delivered the type of performance they are capable of. Currently, they lie second-form-bottom with only one victory out of six.
But they did perform better away to leaders Ballynahinch last time out. The game was very much in doubt until the final 10 minutes when Ballynahinch pulled clear for a 17-3 win.
Belfast Harlequins, however, must start favourites on the basis that they inflicted the first defeat of the season on Buccaneers last Saturday.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 18, 2008: Bruff 6 Belfast Harlequins 7, Kilballyowen Park; Saturday, November 14, 2009: Belfast Harlequins 10 Bruff 14, Deramore Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Belfast Harlequins to win by 1-5 points
BUCCANEERS (4th) v DUNGANNON (3rd), Dubarry Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Buccaneers: WWWWWL; Dungannon: WLLWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Jack Carty 44; Tries: Paul Harte, Denis Buckley, Martin Staunton, John O’Brien 2 each; Dungannon: Points: Peter Nelson 29; Tries: Chris Cochrane 4
Preview: Another big match between two top four teams locked on 19 points. Buccaneers dropped to fourth on points difference following their first defeat against Belfast Harlequins, which came on the beck of a two-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player.
Dungannon, now in third spot, represent very dangerous opponents. Their ability to secure bonus points is the main reason they have moved into top three.
But Buccaneers will be hopeful that home advantage will give them an edge which would see them move back ahead of their Ulster rivals.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 5, 2011: Dungannon 28 Buccaneers 25, Stevenson Park; Saturday, March 26, 2011: Buccaneers 14 Dungannon 17, Dubarry Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win by 1-5 points
GALWEGIANS (8th) v UCC (10th), Crowley Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: LLLLWW; UCC: LLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Tadhg Leader 51; Tries: Tadhg Leader, David Moore, Barry Lee 2 each; UCC: Points: Brian Kingston 36; Tries: Brian O’Callaghan 2
Preview: What a difference a few wins can make. Not so long ago Galwegians were bottom of the table, having lost their opening four games.
But successive victories, including a highly impressive 26-13 away success over UCD has seen them move up the table.
UCC, currently in last spot, must be in danger of becoming another of Galwegians victims. This is a vital encounter for both sides as they look to boost their confidence ahead of the second half of the campaign.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 15, 2011: Galwegians 13 UCC 6, Crowley Park; Saturday, March 26, 2011: UCC 10 Galwegians 21, the Mardyke
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win by 1-5 points
UCD (7th) v UL BOHEMIANS (6th), Belfield
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: LWLWDL; UL Bohemians: LWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Niall Earls 50; Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray, Tom Fletcher 2 each; UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 69; Tries: Darren Moroney 2
Preview: Hard to know what is going to happen between two of the more erractic teams around in Division 1B. Both outfits will be hoping to pick up from last Saturday’s displays.
To be fair, UL Bohemians paid dearly for the sin-binning of their influential number 8 Sean Rennison against Dungannon.
UCD, for their part, struggled to get going in their defeat by Galwegians and they will badly need to make better use of home advantage this weekend.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 27, 2007: UL Bohemians 16 UCD 8, UL Bowl; Saturday, March 28, 2009: UCD 25 UL Bohemians 30, Belfield
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win by 6-10 points
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