ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, March 23
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Ballymena (10th) v UCD (2nd), Eaton park
A very difficult situation that Ballymena find themselves in. Just one win this season and a shattering 51-0 defeat by fellow relegation strugglers Dungannon last Saturday.
They currently lie bottom, four points adrift of Bruff, and now some 10 points behind Dungannon in third last spot. The situaiton is unlikely to get any better against a UCD side determined to hold on to second position in the table.
They are, along with Ballynahinch, the form side around just now. Any one of a number of players will provide a threat to Ballymena with Barry Daly adding to his reputation in last week’s 19-13 win over Buccaneers.
Bruff (9th) v Dungannon (8th), Kilballyowen Park
A massive game for second from bottom Bruff in their continuing relegation struggles. Dungannon’s emphatic win over Ballymena means that they are now five points clear of Bruff.
Another win would prove a major step in them moving clear of the relegation zone. Despite their lowly league position, they have some decent players.
One of them Ali Birch scored a hat-trick of tries in the demolition of Ballymena. Bruff, however, will surely lift their game in front of their own suporters to make this a competitive struggle.
Buccaneers (4th) v Belfast Harlequins (5th), Dubarry Park
Unfortunately for them, Buccaneers chances of getting second spot in the table may well have disapppeared following last Saturday’s 19-13 defeat by UCD.
They now lie eight points behind UCD and seven adrift of Dublin University in third spot. Still, they must look to beat Belfast Harlequins and hope somehow that the two student sides slip up.
Buccaneers will be hoping that home advantage proves decisive. Belfast Harlequins, one place behind Buccaneers in fifth spot in the table, represent decent opponents.
Dublin University (3rd) v Ballynahinch (1st), Blackrock College – please note change of venue
Undoubtedly , the match of the day in this division. Third against first and a cracking game in prospect at College Park.
Now nine points clear at the top, Ballynahinch look certain to get the automatic promotion spot.
The question is which of the two university sides will be involved in the promotion-relegation play-off against the team that finishes second from bottom in Division One A.
Should Dublin University lose here, UCD will be strong favourites. If Dublin Univesity are to upset Ballynahinch, it’s going to take quite a performance as the Ulster outfit are in such great form with former Ballymena man Rodger McBurney making a big impact.
Malone (7th) v Blackrock College (6th), Gibson Park
Not a lot at stake between two sides stuck just below mid table. Blackrock, in fact, are just one point ahead of their Ulster irvals in sixth spot.
After their dreadful start to the season, they have improved steadily to move well clear of any relegation problems. Obviously, they are a useful enough side with an excellent goalkicker in Rob Keogh.
It’s always hard to know what to expect from Malone. They were hammered 58-3 by Ballynahinch last Saturday but they may well raise their game against a Blackrock side that beat them at Stradbrook earlier this season.