There is an historic game to be played in Tipperary this weekend when Cashel host local rivals Nenagh Ormond – the first time two clubs from Tipp have met at senior level in Irish rugby. This is the last weekend of action in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League before Christmas.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, December 10
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Cashel (1st) v Nenagh Ormond (5th), Spafield, 1pm
An historic day for rugby in Tipperary with two sides from the county meeting at senior level in the Ulster Bank League for the first time.
The match is given added spice by the fact that the new boys Cashel are riding high at the top of the table and currently unbeaten.
The hosts have conceded only 38 points so far but that could all go out the window in a derby game. Irish Rugby TV will be on hand to record the game for highlights. The early start means you can also catch the Munster match in the clubhouse afterwards.
Banbridge (4th) v Ards (14th), Rifle Park
Banbridge’s win over Rainey Old Boys last week saw them move into fourth place in the table, level with Nenagh Ormond. They face another Ulster derby this weekend at Rifle Park.
Ards got thumped by league leaders Cashel last time out but they will still be hoping to do to Banbridge what Bann did Rainey the week before.
Form favours the hosts, though, and they should be strong enough to take the points on Saturday.
Boyne (8th) v Highfield (6th), Shamrock Lodge
This is the kind of interprovincial clash the Ulster Bank League thrives on – two community-based clubs meeting for the first time at this level.
Boyne have adjusted reasonably well to life in the league and last weekend’s one-point victory over Armagh has improved their win/loss ratio.
Highfield are still in the running near the top of the table but need a result this weekend to stay in touch. They had a good win over Naas last weekend but Boyne will make for stiffer opposition on the road.
Navan (12th) v Armagh (10th), Balreask Old
Navan went down to Nenagh Ormond last weekend and while they are clear of the relegation zone they cannot afford to feel comfortable yet.
Armagh make the trip to Navan having lost at home to Navan’s arch rivals Boyne last weekend. These two former junior clubs go head to head with points badly needed for a comfortable Christmas.
That said, they should serve up a good game and will be well supported at Balreask Old.
NUIM Barnhall (3rd) v Sunday’s Well (13th), Parsonstown
NUIM Barnhall return to Leixlip following a successful stint in Maynooth and a win on the road at Suttonians last weekend.
Five wins and three try-scoring bonus points testify that the home side are in good form this season and are a real force to be reckoned with.
The ‘Well, like Navan. are clear of the relegation zone but only just. Another loss for them this weekend would open the door for Ards or Naas.
Sligo (11th) v Rainey Old Boys (2nd), Hamilton Park
Sligo picked up a much-needed win last weekend on the road but they face a much sterner examination on Saturday when they welcome Rainey Old Boys to Strandhill.
The former Ulster junior side will know just what to expect on their visit to the west and with four try-scoring bonuses to their name look capable of dealing with it.
An away win is on the cards then as Sligo continue to adjust to life as a senior club.
Suttonians (9th) v Naas (15th), JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds
The Sutton side are mid-table with 14 points but would like at least one win from this block of three pre-Christmas games.
Naas are struggling badly this season with only one win in seven games and only one losing bonus point from their six losses.
You would have to back Suttonians to take the points at home as they gear up for Christmas and their annual Fat Turkey Walk in aid of the IRFU Charitable Trust.
Connemara play Wanderers in January.