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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Unbeaten Armagh’s top of the table visit to Greystones could have a big bearing on the remainder of the Ulster Bank League Division 2B season, while the Limerick bragging rights will be on the line when Old Crescent host Thomond on Saturday.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, November 26

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Bective Rangers (6th) v MU Barnhall (5th), Donnybrook, Friday, November 25, 7.30pm

MU Barnhall had edged ahead of Bective in the table following their 20-15 dismissal of Wanderers, so this is the ideal chance for Rangers to snap back and extend their unbeaten run to four games.

Respective captains Gearoid O’Grady and Simon Gillespie were in very good kicking form in the last round, with O’Grady’s late penalty earning Bective a 10-all draw with Dungannon, and Gillespie landing two closing kicks against Wanderers.

Neither side picked up a point in their last ‘Friday Night Lights’ outings – Barnhall losing 39-15 at Greystones and Bective beaten 20-9 by Wanderers – and the appointment of visiting Georgian referee Saba Abulashvili adds a novel factor to this Leinster derby.

Greystones (2nd) v Armagh (1st), Dr. Hickey Park, 2pm

Armagh’s enviable winning streak – now standing at seven games – should get its most strenuous test when Alex McCloy’s men take a trip to the Co. Wicklow coastline to tackle second-placed Greystones.

Both clubs’ rate of scoring has been stunningly high in recent rounds, Armagh amassing 92 points in their last two league matches and Greystones not far behind with 75. Opposing wingers Andrew Willis and Jack Keating have been prominent in the try-scoring stakes, both bagging braces last time out.

There was practically nothing between the sides last season, a late penalty sealing a 17-16 ‘Stones win in the corresponding fixture and Harry Boyd’s last-minute conversion giving Armagh a share of the spoils (15-15) at the Palace Grounds in March.

Wanderers (3rd) v Skerries (8th), Merrion Road, 2pm

Six defeats on the trot tells its own story for Skerries who are hoping to have some key players back from injury this week. Six bonus points in seven rounds, including three try-scoring ones, show they are not far away from stringing together some decent results.

Wanderers’ indiscipline was the decisive factor in their 20-15 loss to Barnhall, and a return to Merrion Road should aid them in their quest to make it four wins in five games.

With Greystones and Armagh playing each other, Wanderers have a big opportunity to close the gap on the top two. They certainly need to build back up some momentum ahead of back-to-back clashes with leaders Armagh on December 3 and January 21.

City of Derry (10th) v Dungannon (4th), Judge’s Road

Beaten heavily by Wanderers and held to a draw by Bective, Dungannon’s league form has been poor of late but they advanced to the Ulster Senior Cup final last week with an 18-14 comeback triumph over Belfast Harlequins.

Tries from forwards Karl Egan and James McMahon were the undoing of ‘Quins, and Andy Hughes’ ‘Gannon outfit should also have the measure of City of Derry who are the only club yet to record a win across all five divisions.

One big positive for Derry is that their former head coach Terry McMaster is returning to the fold in the coming weeks, covering the departure of Stephen Douglas to Australia in January. Player-coach Richard McCarter told the Derry Journal: “We have all this positivity surrounding Terry coming back, but at the end of the day you’ve got to get the results. We have to start winning before it’s too late.”

Old Crescent (7th) v Thomond (9th), Rosbrien

The second of the big Limerick derbies in the Ulster Bank League this weekend. Second-from-bottom Thomond will hope to rip up the form book when they visit neighbours Old Crescent, who are two places above them and eight points better off.

Crescent cruised to an eight-try 59-0 success against City of Derry in round 7, at the same time that Thomond were being hammered 71-10 by an unrelenting Armagh team.

Given that Crescent finished within 12 points of Armagh the previous week, the Rosbrien residents should claim the derby spoils here and post back-to-back victories for the second time this season.