With the top four clubs all playing away from home, they can expect some red-hot receptions on a cold December day as the battle for points intensifies in Ulster Bank League Division 2B.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, December 12
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Bective Rangers (8th) v Greystones (3rd), Donnybrook, 2pm
The margin was 28 points when these sides met in the Co. Wicklow seaside town last Saturday, with Greystones helping themselves to six tries including four shared out by wingers Ferdia Kenny, Padraig Geoghegan and Jack Keating.
What will give Bective hope of avenging that result is that ‘Stones have lost their last three away games. Rangers really need to arrest their slide. Ending their four-match losing streak would be a big statement of intent on the 4G pitch which has witnessed some high scoring contests so far this season.
MU Barnhall (9th) v Highfield (2nd), Parsonstown, 2pm
Second-placed Highfield will be very keen to get back on the horse after losing 18-13 to Rainey Old Boys in round 8 and having their first meeting with MU Barnhall postponed last week due to Storm Desmond.
Their position in the table aside, Barnhall have been playing some good rugby at home, getting wins against the likes of Bective and Greystones. But Timmy Ryan will have his Highfield troops primed for a big performance as they look to sign off before Christmas with a bang.
Sunday’s Well (5th) v Dungannon (7th), Irish Independent Park, 2pm
Two teams that enjoyed a successful November with a brace of wins apiece. Five points separate them in mid-table with Sunday’s Well ahead thanks to one more victory. They also boast the second best defensive record in the division (-126), just behind Highfield (-124).
Dungannon have blown hot and cold at times, but their recent successes against Barnhall and Bective suggest they are on the right road. The ‘Well look to be a bit more complete, though, particularly in the front row where the three Moynihan brothers continue to impress at scrum time and in the loose.
Rainey Old Boys (6th) v City of Derry (1st), Hatrick Park
A mouth-watering local derby for both players and fans to get their teeth into. Rainey Old Boys are surely champing at the bit to face the league leaders after last week’s game fell foul of the weather (it has been postponed to Saturday week).
Recent form is interesting to note with Derry having lost to Highfield and the Cork club losing to Rainey Old Boys last time out. There may be 14 points between them in the table, but Derry boss Terry McMaster rates Rainey highly.
“Rainey are a young side and they tend to play with a free spirit and there is no fear of failure, coming off the back of a win against Highfield there will be definitely no fear of failure,” McMaster told the Newsletter. “We know where their strengths are but we’ll try to negate those threats and hopefully get our strengths around the park into space and see what we can do.”
Seapoint (10th) v Armagh (4th), Kilbogget Park
Armagh are chasing their fifth win in six league outings and they will be quietly confident of getting the job done against the division’s bottom side, whom they defeated last Saturday thanks to three Harry Boyd penalties.
Seapoint may to be struggling for results, but they certainly make it hard for teams to triumph at their Kilbogget Park base. The south Dubliners have picked up four losing bonus points there, including one recently against leaders City of Derry, so Armagh will know they can ill-afford any lapses in concentration.