Four points is the difference at the top of the Division 2C table, so can in-form Sligo reel in leaders Navan this weekend or will the Meath men take a step closer to the title and automatic promotion?
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, March 11
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Bangor (6th) v Tullamore (4th), Upritchard Park
Sixth plays fourth but there is a 12-point gap between Bangor and Tullamore at present, so a win is vital here if the Seasiders want to challenge for that last promotion play-off spot.
Both sides’ games were rained off last Saturday so the likes of Bangor’s returning back rower David Bradford and Ulster ‘A’-capped centre Lewis Sampson will be itching to play this weekend.
Tullamore really need to put in an 80-minute performance after suffering two late losses to Rainey Old Boys and Bruff. They beat Bangor 44-17 in October and have the backs to cause damage, including talented brothers Karl and Conor Dunne.
Midleton (7th) v Boyne (10th), Towns Park
Midleton have been drawn into relegation trouble on the back of five straight defeats. Results have been really hard to come by for John O’Neill’s charges, although they did pick up a losing bonus point at Seapoint last time out.
Bottom side Boyne did likewise at Sligo, showing their can put it up to the division’s leading sides, however the Drogheda outfit have only one away win so far this season (37-15 against Seapoint).
Boyne actually led 14-0 after half an hour of their round 4 clash with Midleton, however the game ended in a 22-all draw with the Corkmen’s four tries scored by Paul Daly, Aidan McCarthy, Sean White and Daniel Murray.
Navan (1st) v Kanturk (9th), Balreask Old
Four points clear and four rounds to go. The equation is pretty simple for Navan now as they edge ever closer to the league title and automatic promotion. But they cannot afford to be complacent against a Kanturk side that is scrapping for their Division 2C lives.
Delighted with Navan’s battling 15-8 victory at Bruff, forwards coach Dara Fallon told the Meath Chronicle: “It was an absolutely huge result. There’s always things to improve on, but you can’t overstate either how big a thing it is to come away from Limerick with four points after playing a Munster team that plays a Munster style of rugby and go down to 13 men for part of the game.”
If the weather stays dry, the crowd at Balreask Old could be in for a treat as Navan and Kanturk played out an 11-try thriller when they met in October. ‘Turks captain Sean Cremin scored a hat-trick in the 47-37 defeat.
Seapoint (8th) v Rainey Old Boys (3rd), Kilbogget Park
Seapoint are still hovering above the dreaded relegation play-off spot, so winning this penultimate home game is a must. A repeat of their recent victory over Midleton would do nicely.
Third-placed Rainey had a forgettable result and performance against Sligo last Saturday, although a well-taken try from full-back Ricky Andrew, who also touched against Seapoint in October, did help them earn a losing bonus point.
The Magherafelt club have set piece issues to iron out but they did cause Seapoint plenty of lineout problems during that 31-0 win in round 4, with young second row Ronan McCusker key to that.
Sligo (2nd) v Bruff (5th), Hamilton Park
It is incredible to think that Sligo ended last season needing to win a play-off to avoid dropping down to the junior ranks. Now, Ross Mannion’s young side are on a seven-match winning streak and pressing for promotion.
Beaten at home by Navan last week, it will be interesting to see how Bruff respond. They can always look to back-line talisman Tony Cahill to provide inspiration – his late try saw them pip Sligo 26-25 in early October.
However, the way Sligo are playing at the moment, with centres Daire Byrne and Mark Rooney causing teams a lot of trouble, Bruff will need to be at their best to take the spoils in Strandhill.