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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

The top three teams in Division 2B, including new leaders Greystones, are all away from home on Saturday afternoon so there could be some changes in the table come the final whistles.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, February 18

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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City of Derry (9th) v Bective Rangers (7th), Judge’s Road

City of Derry are not playing like a club in the lower reaches of the table. Last week’s 31-27 success at home to Old Crescent was their fourth straight win. Impressive out-half Neil Burns contributed 21 points.

Derry player-coach Richard McCarter, whose side could climb into seventh spot this weekend, can pick from a newly-settled squad, although William McCleery is out with a broken nose and cheekbone.

A 16-11 reversal at home to Dungannon saw Bective pick up their fifth losing bonus point in as many rounds. Indeed, they have not won since beating Derry 29-3 at Donnybrook in early November.

Dungannon (6th) v Wanderers (3rd), Stevenson Park

There is plenty of momentum behind Wanderers’ promotion push following three wins since the turn of the year. They put 40 points on MU Barnhall last week and did likewise against Dungannon, their round 13 opponents, back in November.

Dungannon got back to winning ways at Bective last time out and head coach Andy Hughes has reminded his players that they desperately need to be beating teams like Wanderers if they want to finish in the top four.

Wanderers’ away form – just two victories from six road trips – certainly needs to improve. With eight points to make up on the leading two sides, winning in Co. Tyrone is a must for Greg Lynch’s men.

MU Barnhall (5th) v Greystones (1st), Parsonstown

MU Barnhall would love to pay back Greystones for a 39-15 defeat from over three months ago, however the Co. Wicklow club look too strong to slip up here.

Zippy outside backs Jack Keating and Padraig Geoghegan increased their try hauls for the season with braces against an overwhelmed Skerries, allowing ‘Stones to cruise to the summit.

Barnhall need a big performance and result to avoid losing more ground in mid-table. Having led 17-0 and 24-14, they had an alarming second half collapse against Wanderers and will be keen to banish memories of that.

Old Crescent (4th) v Armagh (2nd), Rosbrien

This looks like a gilt-edged opportunity for Old Crescent to chip away at the current 11-point gap between themselves and second-placed Armagh, who dug out a 13-12 win at Thomond without playing particularly well.

The Ulstermen have looked vulnerable in recent outings but did end their two-match losing streak last Saturday. They make the return trip to Co. Limerick with key winger Andrew Willis their main injury concern.

Although disappointed with the result, Crescent picked up two bonus points in their 31-27 loss at City of Derry. Larry Hanly bagged a brace from centre, with former Shannon players Brian Tuohy and Gareth Quinn McDonogh making tidy contributions from full-back and scrum half respectively.

Skerries (8th) v Thomond (10th), Holmpatrick

You have to feel for Thomond who did everything bar win against promotion-chasing Armagh last weekend. Their recovery from 10-0 down to lose 13-12 did at least garner their eighth league point of the season.

Third-from-bottom Skerries are currently 11 points better off than the Soda Cakes and sandwiched in between Derry and Bective. So, a home win here would be just the ticket after last week’s 55-5 thrashing by Greystones.

The Goats lost 12-6 to Thomond in a try-less contest back in November and will need a big shift from their pack – especially the front row of Mark Nally, Chris Tonge and Cormac Marrey – in order to reverse that result.