We’re nearly there in Division 1B as we reach the penultimate round of league games and the race for promotion can still take a twist.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, April 20
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Ballynahinch (1st) v Buccaneers (4th), Ballymacarn Park
Ballynahinch still have to complete the job of taking the title and gaining automatic promotion.
But it does appear very much a foregone conclusion as they are eight points clear of second placed UCD with just two matches left. Furthermore, they have a far superior points difference than any of their rivals.
That said, they will take nothing for granted, particularly as Blackrock College gave them a much harder than expected last Saturday. Fourth placed Buccaneers are definitely no pushovers.
Just the same, it would be a major shock if Ballynahinch fail to clinch the title by recording yet another victory. They simply have too much firepower.
Ballymena (9th) v UCD (2nd), Eaton Park
UCD will be going all out for a bonus point victory to make absolutely certain of that second spot ahead of Dublin University.
Potentially, of course, they could even finish top should Ballynahinch collapse in their final two games but that’s not going to happen. The reality is that UCD will be looking to get the victory which keeps them clear of Trinity.
As they have a game in hand on their student rivals, a bonus point win would do the job. A win, without a bonus point, would also surely suffice as they have a much superior points difference to Trinity.
Ballymena have done well to at last move off the bottom of the table but it will be a major surprise if they can overcome a UCD side that beat them 32-3 at Belfield earlier in the season.
Bruff (10th) v Dungannon (8th), Kilballyowen
Unfortunately , the wheels have really fallen off for Bruff. Last Saturday saw them concede eight tries when losing 52-7 to Dublin University.
Consequently, they have gone to bottom spot, trailing Ballymena by a point. Their only consolation is that Dungannon should not quite represent the same sort of challenge as Dublin University.
But the Ulster side have shown a big improvement lately, recording some good victories to move clear of the bottom two. On their recent form they must be fancied to win again, although Bruff could manage one last effort and lift their game in front of their own fans.
Malone (7th) v Blackrock College (5th), Gibson Park
Not a great deal to play for between two mid table teams. Blackrock have had much the better second half to the season after a dismal opening to their campaign.
Malone, by comparision, made a great start only then to go downhill. They were no match for UCD last Saturday, conceding five tries in a 38-7 defeat.
Blackrock did much better than had been anticipated when only losing 20-16 to leaders Ballynahinch in difficult conditions at Ballymacarn Park.
They will be going for the double over Malone, having already beaten them at Stradbrook.