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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews

Title rivals Greystones and Armagh, who are separated by a single point, take to the road in Division 2B’s penultimate round. Arguably the game of the day is MU Barnhall’s trip to Old Crescent with both sides gunning for the last promotion play-off place.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, April 8

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Bective Rangers (9th) v Thomond (10th), Donnybrook

The division’s bottom two teams collide but Thomond only have pride to play for after their relegation two weeks ago. Ger Casey’s side put up a brave fight but an average of 35 points conceded per game speaks for itself.

Bective will be quietly confident of completing a season’s double after defeating the Soda Cakes 49-10 in September. Another five-point return could lift them out of the bottom two ahead of next week’s final round.

Rangers showed their battling qualities when two tries in the final quarter earned them two bonus points against high-flying Greystones. Given they travel to Armagh in the final round, a five-point return here is a must.

City of Derry (7th) v Armagh (2nd), Judge’s Road

It is a big weekend for City of Derry as their senior men look to confirm their Division 2B status against Armagh, while their Women’s team travel to Tullamore for an All-Ireland League promotion play-off.

Derry scrum half Jason Bloomfield had an eventful afternoon in the last round, scoring two tries and being sin-binned in a 27-14 bonus point win at Thomond. His number 9 duel with Armagh’s Harry Doyle or Gerard Treanor will be a key battle.

Armagh, who should have John Faloon and Andrew Willis back available, travel to Judge’s Road as newly-crowned SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership champions having lifted the Stevenson Shield for the very first time last week. Their next goal is pipping Greystones to automatic promotion.

Dungannon (6th) v Skerries (8th), Stevenson Park

Having lost 14-7 to MU Barnhall last time out, Skerries are in a precarious position with just two rounds remaining. They are only two points away from the jaws of the relegation play-off spot.

With Bective expected to beat Thomond, the Goats really need to produce the goods away to Dunngannon whom they lost to back in September – second half tries from backs Seamus Mallon and Jonny Toal confirmed ‘Gannon’s 24-13 success.

A bonus point victory here could give the Tyrone men a shot at fourth place next week, although they need fellow play-off chasers MU Barnhall to do them a big favour down at Old Crescent. Two changes for Dungannon see John Buckley and Mark Riddell come in for Pete Doran (eye) and Tianua Poto (concussion).

Old Crescent (4th) v MU Barnhall (5th), Rosbrien

Three clubs are still in the running for the fourth and final promotion play-off berth, but Old Crescent, who have won two of their last three games, know they can sew it up with a home win over MU Barnhall.

Having won Division 2C last year, Crescent set out that reaching the play-offs is the next marker in their development. Off the pitch, they recently launched phase two of their land purchasing fundraising for their expanding Rosbrien grounds.

Darren Hudson, who captained the Ireland Students team against England last Sunday, was Barnhall’s only try scorer in their 16-all draw with Crescent in September. A 78th-minute touchdown from Cathal O’Reilly saw the Limerick men earn a share of the spoils.

Wanderers (3rd) v Greystones (1st), Aviva Stadium back pitch

This is shaping up to be a cracking contest with both back-lines packed full of attacking firepower. Con Callan, Jack Keating and Paudie Geoghegan have been finishing chance after chance for Greystones, so can Wanderers keep the in-form trio quiet?

Their home record – eight wins from eight this season – suggests that they can. The ‘Chaps’ lost 25-16 in Greystones back in round 2, a Cian Doddy try and three Peter Brougham penalties proving not enough as a Keating try, with 15 minutes left, saw the hosts win out.

‘Stones’ current winning streak stands at eight matches, stretching back to early December. Their game will suit the artificial back pitch but Kevin Lewis will have his players primed for their toughest test since locking horns with Armagh in late January.