New leaders Highfield and Nenagh Ormond face trips to Belfast and Galway respectively this weekend as they look to break up a three-way tie at the top of Division 2A.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, February 11
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Corinthians (8th) v Nenagh Ormond (2nd), Corinthian Park, Friday, February 10, 8pm
Corinthians’ first half surge against Banbridge, which saw them pocket 15 unanswered points, and their ability to see out the result showed exactly what they are capable of.
Despite the best efforts of key forwards Dylan Donnellan and Pat O’Toole, the Galway men are too inconsistent to challenge for promotion. Instead, they still have some work to do to avoid finishing in the bottom two.
Second-placed Nenagh got back to winning ways against Sunday’s Well thanks to unconverted tries from Conor Muldoon and John Coffey. The table positions suggest an away win here but Nenagh will not have it easy.
Belfast Harlequins (10th) v Highfield (1st), Deramore Park, 12.30pm
Concern is growing for Belfast Harlequins who have the spectre of relegation hanging over them. They have 12 points to make up on second-from-bottom Cashel whom they visit next weekend.
Performance-wise there was a lot to take from ‘Quins’ 25-24 reversal at Queen’s and Andrew Gillespie’s charges, who are reportedly training well despite some injury worries, are definitely looking more cohesive since the turn of the season.
Highfield, though, are cruising along nicely at the top of the table and four second half tries saw them smash Cashel 31-7. Their defence is arguably the most important ingredient in their success, with an average of just 10.45 points conceded per game.
Cashel (9th) v Banbridge (5th), Spafield, 3pm
Cashel’s second half collapse at Highfield will have knocked their confidence, but their recent double over Queen’s has at least lifted their hopes of making it out of the bottom two.
Visitors Banbridge will need no reminding what tough operators the Tipperary men are. November’s 7-5 home win for Bann was decided by scrum half Aaron Kennedy’s controversially retaken conversion late on.
Currently licking their wounds after three straight losses, Bann assistant coach Simon McKinstry said: “It’s a tough league and the lads know there’s no let-up – we’ve got a lot of training to do but we still believe we can turn it around. There’s a lot of points still to be played for so hopefully we’ll kick on and improve.”
Blackrock College (6th) v Queen’s University (4th), Stradbrook, 4.30pm
Blackrock’s list of recent results against Belfast opposition does not make for happy reading, with a double defeat to Malone and November’s 27-15 loss to Queen’s up at Dub Lane.
A win here would keep the Peter McCague-captained ‘Rock in touch with the top half of the table and they will be channeling their previous winning performances at home to the current top two – Highfield and Nenagh.
Queen’s own skipper Alex Thompson returns from illness for the trip south and they will give out-half Jack Milligan a late fitness test. The students have a chance to move into third spot, with local rivals Malone having already played their round 12 fixture in mid-January.