Last weekend proved that predicting the outcome in Division 2A is a tricky business. Banbridge lead the way but from first to sixth there is only a five-point gap – no room for error this weekend.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, December 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Cashel (6th) v Corinthians (10th), Spafield
Cashel spent much of last weekend on the back foot against Banbridge, but they have a chance to bounce back this Saturday. Visitors Corinthians were also beaten last weekend, dropping to 10th place as a result of their 31-7 reversal against UCC.
A home win keeps the Co. Tipperary side in the hunt, while an away triumph would offer a boost to the struggling Galway outfit who won their three games in October but lost their two November fixtures.
Naas (2nd) v Nenagh Ormond (8th), Forenaughts
Naas ran in five tries in their 29-10 win over Thomond last Saturday, taking them up to second in the table. Visitors Nenagh Ormond got a much-needed boost with a bonus point victory at home to Skerries, aided by a hat-trick of tries from out-half Kolio Hifo.
If the Tipperary team can maintain that level of performance they may cause their hosts some difficulties but Johne Murphy’s Naas side should be up to the task.
Queen’s University (5th) v Banbridge (1st), Dub Lane
Forget those big European back-to-back weekends. Dub Lane and Rifle Park will host two cracking Ulster derby matches on consecutive weekends as Queen’s University and Banbridge complete a pre-Christmas double header.
Queen’s counter attack proved vital in heavy conditions against Malone last weekend, with Ulster Academy member Johnny McPhillips breaking through for a clinching injury-time try. Can they topple the Division 2A leaders two weeks in-a-row?
Bann will not relinquish their hard-earned top spot easily, with head coach Daniel Soper telling the club website: “I always felt that this series of three games could well define the season. We got off to a great start (against Cashel) but the two games against Queen’s are likely to be our toughest of the lot.
“You can see how their results have picked up as they’ve got their players back from Ulster representative duty. So we’re going to have to be at our very best to turn them over, especially on Saturday when they’re playing on their own patch.”
Skerries (7th) v Malone (3rd), Holmpatrick
Skerries notched up 24 points last weekend and still finished on the wrong side of the scoreline against a charged-up Nenagh Ormond.
This Saturday they face a Malone side looking to reclaim top spot in the league after their Ulster derby loss to Queen’s. The conditions will play a part but the visitors, led by talismanic captain Neil Alcorn, should still be strong enough to get a result.
UCC (4th) v Thomond (9th), the Mardyke
UCC put in a fine performance against Corinthians last weekend, setting the platform with a strong first half into the wind to take the game 31-7. Ireland underage international Paul Kiernan and goal-kicking full-back Kevin O’Keeffe are two players to watch out for in their back-line.
Thomond coughed up five tries at home to Naas as they slipped to ninth place overall. But they finished with two late consolation scores from David O’Halloran and Eugene O’Carroll and will hope to take that momentum into this provincial derby.
Still, a home win looks the more likely result here for the Cork students ahead of the return fixture at Liam Fitzgerald Park next week.