There are only five points between first and fifth as the action resumes in Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League this weekend. The clash between City of Derry (4th) and Ballymena (2nd) will have a big bearing on the top flight of the table.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, January 11
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Bruff (16th) v Galwegians (1st), Kilballyowen Park
Difficult times for Bruff as they face the very real prospect of relegation. They won’t go gently though but they do face a tough ask this Saturday.
‘Wegians arrive having taken top spot last week thanks to a game in hand. They’re looking fairly potent as well with four try bonuses and 182 points scored.
You’d have to favour the visitors to take the points in this one.
City of Derry v Ballymena, Judge’s Road
Plenty at stake in this top four clash at Judge’s Road. Just two points separate the sides as they prepare for what promises to be a cracking Ulster derby.
The home side lost their last game before Christmas – another Ulster derby against Queens – and will hope to kick off 2014 with a win.
Visitors Ballymena have been edging tight games recently against Bruff and Naas but every win counts.
NUIM Barnhall (5th) v Banbridge (13th), Parsonstown
The home side’s win over Highfield in December kept them in the running at the top of the table but they need to kick on if they are going to challenge.
Banbridge’s form has been patchy but a good win over Rainey followed by a close run thing against leaders Galwegians may be a sign of a change in fortune.
Home and form favour NUIM Barnhall though and it is hard not to pick them for the win.
Old Crescent (14th) v Highfield (15th), Rosbrien
The turn of the season and both of these clubs are struggling. This is the game then that could lay a marker.
The Limerick side have a four point lead over their Cork rivals and they need to maintain that distance and more if they are to pull clear of possible relegation struggles.
Highfield badly need a win if they are to stay in touch. A tough game on the cards then in Rosbrien.
Old Wesley (7th) v Bective Rangers (12th), Donnybrook
A ‘Donnybrook’ used to be a byword for an unruly brawl back when Donnybrook Fair was a sprawling market rather than a food emporium. It may be more refined these days but expect no quarter when these neighbours and rivals meet.
There will be plenty of stories at the pre-match lunch and a few more to add to them after the game.
Five points separate the sides but form and home advantage count for little in this clash. Old school!
Rainey Old Boys (11th) v Naas (10th), Hatrick Park
Rainey last won back in November so January is a chance to start the new year and second half of the season with a return to winning ways.
Naas are ahead of them only on points difference so there is little to separate them as they prepare for Saturday.
Seapoint (9th) v Queens (3rd), Kilbogget Park
An interesting game this one. The visitors have only won two more games than their hosts but they have notched up four try bonuses along the way.
Queen’s also stand to benefit from the clash Ballymena and City of Derry if they can pick up the win here.
Seapoint are mid table and a win here would help them push up the table.
UCC (6th) v Cashel (8th), Mardyke
Four wins and twenty points sees UCC in a reasonable 6th as they face into the second half of the season.
They too could benefit from the result in Judge’s Road if they can win this Cork v Tipp clash.
Cashel are a hard team to beat – four losing bonuses from their four losses shows that – but can they do enough to win in The Mardyke?