With a three-week break in fixtures looming, a win on Saturday could prove significant when the Division 2C clubs draw breath to review the league standings and their progress so far.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, October 8
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Boyne (8th) v Midleton (2nd), Shamrock Lodge
Boyne were overly generous in giving away 30-plus points and a try-scoring bonus point in both of their last two games. The most positive aspect of last week’s 33-19 loss at Bangor was the early two-try salvo from Kevin McCleery and Samoan lock Afioa’e Maiava.
Providing better ball for wingers like McCleery is a must if they are to trouble Midleton, who did well to pick up a late losing bonus point away to table-topping Rainey.
John O’Neill’s Cork side look well set for their third win in four games. They have scored 11 tries so far, including two each from Paul Daly, Ross O’Mahony and Sean White.
Kanturk (9th) v Navan (7th), Knocknacolan
Kanturk were not at the races against Sligo, slumping to a surprisingly big defeat (39-8). Player-coach Ben Martin did his best to inspire with a superb second half try, but his young side’s brittle defence gave up a series of soft scores.
A return to Knocknacolan – the scene of their recent success against Seapoint – should fire them up. Two losing bonuses currently have Navan two points and two places above Kanturk in the table.
The clubs’ most recent meeting ended in quite an eventful 0-0 draw last January. Navan boss Alan Kingsley wants a full 80-minute performance from his players after they faltered at vital stages during their 17-10 home defeat by Tullamore.
Rainey Old Boys (1st) v Seapoint (3rd), Hatrick Park
Rainey won their top of the table clash with Midleton, but third-placed Seapoint will offer the leaders another stern test. The Derry men have scored 13 tries in their three wins to date, including braces from South African hooker George Fritz, scrum half Michael Wilson and prop Steven Rutledge.
Just like Rainey, Seapoint are on the comeback trail after suffering relegation from 2B. They travel in confident mood after thumping Bruff 31-10, with impressive full-back James Kelly supplying two tries and 21 points in total.
The Dubliners registered a 20-15 final round win at Hatrick Park last April, their one and only triumph of a very disappointing campaign in the league’s fourth tier.
Bruff (10th) v Sligo (6th), Kilballyowen Park, 4pm
In a later kick-off, bottom-placed Bruff will try to break their duck against a Sligo side that opened their own win account in emphatic fashion against Kanturk. That 39-8 bonus point victory moved Ross Mannion’s men from ninth place up to sixth.
Lock Jamie Bowes and winger Mark Rooney stood out for Sligo in the last round, while Bruff, who have leaked an average of 30 points per game, really need to fix their defensive problems.
Bruff did manage to win the corresponding fixture last term by 19 points, but would undoubtedly settle for a win by any margin given their current struggles.
Tullamore (5th) v Bangor (4th), Spollanstown, 4pm
Just a point separates these two teams in the table, Bangor climbing into fourth spot courtesy of their five-try performance against Boyne. After their recent success at Navan, can Jason Morgan’s charges pick up their second away win in Leinster?
Bangor had four points to spare over Navan, who were seven-point losers to Tullamore last Friday night. The Co. Offaly outfit used their well-drilled scrum to force key scores, with prop Eamon Bracken in excellent form.
If former Connacht centre Aidan Wynne continues at number 10 for Tullamore rather in than midfield, it sets up an intriguing out-half duel with Bangor’s Kiwi player-coach ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan.