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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

A long mid-winter break in the league comes to an end this weekend as clubs in Division 2B kick back into gear. Undefeated Cashel travel to Armagh – both clubs were promoted from the provincial qualifying leagues last season.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, January 28

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Ards (15th) v Sligo (11th), Hamilton Park (Newtownards)

Hamilton Park in Newtownards will be like a home from home, well in name anyway, for Sligo this Saturday.

Ards ended 2012 by shipping over 50 points to Banbridge so they will be keen to kick off 2012 in much better fashion.

Sligo do not have quite the same firepower as before and with just two wins to their name are still adjusting to the level of rugby in the Ulster Bank League. Their five losing bonus points suggest they just need to tweak a few things to improve.

Armagh (12th) v Cashel (1st), Palace Grounds

An interesting match this one. Both clubs are strongly rooted in their local community, both have seen young players who were nurtured there gain experience at a higher level and then return.

Armagh’s return of two wins from eight games sees them in 12th place. They lost their last game of the league to Navan.

Cashel arrive unbeaten and are five points clear at the top of the league. They have also conceded just 41 points in their eight games. Saturday should see them remain unbeaten but only if they have retained focus post-Christmas.

Highfield (7th) v Navan (9th), Woodleigh Park

Highfield’s draw with Boyne in December saw them drop to seventh place in the standings. They are at the tail end of the chasing pack in the top half of the table but only six points off a top four place.

Navan’s victory over Armagh last time out saw them hold steady in ninth spot. Four losing bonus points in five games shows their intent but they would gladly swap them for a few wins.

Saturday afternoon will be a tough test for both sides as they get the second half of their campaign going.

Naas (14th) v Boyne (8th), Forenaughts

Naas picked up a valuable four points before Christmas, beating Suttonians 15-13 to pull two points clear of Ards and five points clear of Wanderers at the bottom of the table.

Boyne have been showing well in their first season of Ulster Bank League rugby. Four wins and a draw sees them mid-table on 20 points. Their main concern is their points difference tally of -48.

Forenaughts is not always an easy place to visit but Boyne should be up to the task and take the points on offer this Saturday.

Nenagh Ormond (5th) v Banbridge (3rd), New Ormond Park

In terms of impact at the top of the table this is probably the most important game in this division on Saturday.

Banbridge have won one more game than their hosts but have picked up three try and two losing bonus points to Nenagh Ormond’s one and one, leaving them five points ahead.

Nenagh Ormond lost out to their Tipperary rivals Cashel back in December while Bann ran up 55 points against Armagh. A tough test for both sides with a potential promotion slot still very achievable.

Rainey Old Boys (2nd) v Connemara (6th), Hatrick Park

Six wins and four try-scoring bonuses have Rainey Old Boys right in the mix at the top of the table, but they need to stay in touch with Cashel if they are to gain the automatic promotion spot.

What a difference a year makes? Connemara were adrift at the bottom of the table this time last year but five wins and two try bonuses sees them in sixth position this time round.

Rainey have the firepower to take the points, particularly in Hatrick Park, but they will be wary of this resurgent Connemara side.

Sunday’s Well (13th) v Suttonians (10th), Musgrave Park

Sunday’s Well are just clear of the relegation struggles but will need to pick up a few more points to stay that way.

Suttonians are just two points ahead of them in the current standings, so a victory either way will see a swing in the table.

This one should clear away the New Year cobwebs, and the points could go either way depending on who is fresher after the break.

Wanderers (16th) v NUIM Barnhall (4th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Wanderers cannot seem to get a win for love nor money. Four losing bonus points show they have let a few games slip.

NUIM Barnhall by contrast are having a strong season. The fusion of Leixlip and Maynooth seems to have bedded in and the club are motoring along on 29 points.

Can the HQ side turn their season around and stave off relegation? Saturday will be the first step but their visitors may relish the bounce in the back pitch.