Two Friday Night Lights games in Ulster as ‘Quins host league leaders ‘Hinch and Malone host Ballymena.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Friday, February 2
Belfast Harlequins (3rd) v Ballynahinch (1st), Deramore Park, 19:30
Can Belfast Harlequins become the first side to lower the colours of Ballynahinch? Their recent form certainly suggests that are capable of giving the runaway league leaders a really competitive game.
In their past few matches Belfast Harlequins have moved up to third spot in the table with some very impressive wins. The latest saw them defeat Buccaneers 27-15 with Daryl Marshall getting two tries.
But Ballynahinch, now nine points clear at the top of the table, were also very impressive in accounting for another of the leading contenders Dublin University 26-22.
The former Ballymena man Rodger McBurney was once again a key figure, scoring one of their tries.
Malone (6th) v Ballymena (10th), Gibson Park, 19:30
Malone must be fancied to win this one, despite their alarming dip in form from earlier in the season.
They showed what they are capable of when drawing with Ballynahinch but then lost out 23-20 to Blackrock College last weekend. They really need to show more consistency.
Unfortunately, bottom side Ballymena continue to struggle very badly. Just one win in nine games speaks for itself and they were no match for UCD last Saturday, conceding four tries in a 32-3 defeat.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, Saturday 3
Bruff (9th) v UCD (4th), Kilballyowen Park, 14:30
Bruff will feel they deserve a break after loising their last two matches in the closing minutes. Indeed, they lost out to a penalty try in the last last move of the game to fellow strugglers Dungannon.
Their situation could not be more urgent as they lie second from bottom, just a point in front of Ballymena. But they face very dangerous opponents in UCD.
The students appear to have got their act together again to move within range of the leading sides. Free-scoring wing Sam Coughlan-Murray is an obvious danger to Bruff.
Buccaneers (5th) v Blackrock College (7th), Dubarry Park, 14:30
An important game for Buccaneers following their away defeat to Belfast Harlequins. It’s getting very congested behind Ballynahinch at the top of the table.
Buccaneers are now in fifth spot but they are only three points behind second placed Dublin University. They will target this game as they tend to be very competitive at Dubarry Park.
But Blackrock have put a good run together to move away from the bottom of the table. They are clearly much improved and have a quality goalkicker in Rob Keogh.
Dublin University (2nd) v Dungannon (8th), Wanderes FC, Merrion Road, 14:30 – Please not venue change
To a certain extent, the wheels are wobbling for Dublin University. They need to quickly return to winning form in order to maintain their challenge.
The good news is that the remain in second spot. Furthermore, they appear to have played reasonably well away to leaders Ballynahinch, leading 12-6 at half-time before eventually losing 26-22.
Dungannon shouldn’t represent the same sort of challenge, although their 12-10 victory over fellow struggers Bruff must have given their confidence an important boost.