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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Previews

The only two teams to notch a try-scoring bonus point last week will face off in Belfast tomorrow as promotion hopefuls Malone and Highfield meet in Ulster Bank League Division 2A’s match of the day.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, September 23

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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This season sees the introduction of the #UBLTry of the Month award with a prize of 250 euro for each monthly winner and entry into the Try of the Year award.

Greystones (6th) v Corinthians (8th), Dr. Hickey Park

Both of these clubs lost out to late tries in round 1, pressure on the Greystones scrum yielded a penalty try for Armagh while Corinthians were undone by a Daniel Dass-inspired try from Queen’s lock Ali Burke. The consolation for both was hard-earned losing bonus points.

You would have to favour Greystones on their first day out at Dr. Hickey Park. On paper, they have the personnel and squad depth to cope with the rigours of the third tier, but Corinthians have been higher-ranked in recent seasons, also winning the sides’ most recent encounter 30-8 in Galway back in December 2012.

Keeping Greystones’ prolific winger Jack Keating out of the game will be a key focus for Corinthians tomorrow. He was a regular scorer throughout ‘Stones’ 2016/17 title-winning run, won the Division 2B Player of the Year award and, typically, began the new term with a try against Armagh.

Queen’s University (4th) v Nenagh Ormond (10th), Dub Lane

Belfast opposition for Nenagh Ormond again this week after Malone gave them a comprehensive 37-7 beating last Saturday. Never mind the margin, it was a rare home defeat for Ivan Muldoon’s charges. Versatile 22-year-old forward John Healy, who has played for Connacht Eagles, is their new captain.

Queen’s own skipper Nigel Simpson, centre Conor Shiels and lock Ali Burke scored tries in the students’ late 25-18 triumph away to Corinthians. Former Ballymena out-half Ritchie McMaster kicked the other 10 points. The likes of Zac Jordan, Angus Curtis Jack Milligan and Jonny Stewart remain on Queen’s injured/unavailable list.

Neil Doak will be expecting a bit of a backlash from Nenagh after they struggled against Malone. The Tipperary men won 28-17 on their last visit to the Dub twelve months ago, their Kiwi out-half Clayton Stewart kicking 13 points and wielding plenty of influence in open play.

Blackrock College (9th) v Cashel (7th), Stradbrook

Former Connacht Academy prop Jacob Walshe will make his league debut for Blackrock after transferring from Lansdowne in the summer. His selection sees South African Boeta Kleinhans, who played in last week’s 35-19 loss to Highfield, switch across to tighthead.

Captain Peter McCague and backs Peter Quirke and Hugo Godson Treacy also return to a ‘Rock team which will be gunning for revenge as Cashel won both fixtures last season – 18-0 at home when flanker Ed Leamy scored two tries and it was 18-point hero Ollie McGlinchey who inspired a 23-14 victory at Stradbrook.

Cashel will need to tidy up their discipline for this rematch. They gave Galwegians’ Morgan Codyre three penalty shots in the closing quarter of an hour last Saturday and he succeeded with all three to decide the destination of the four match points.

Malone (1st) v Highfield (2nd), Gibson Park

This is set to be a cracker of a contest. Both clubs look like being among the favourites for promotion, Malone setting out their stall with a bonus point win at Nenagh and Highfield doing likewise at home to Blackrock.

Ulster’s Jack Owens, Matthew Dalton, Joe Dunleavy and Peter Cooper, who will need to pass a fitness test, have been released to the Cregagh Red Sox this week. Malone head coach Paddy Armstrong knows his forwards, led by captain Ross Todd, will have to match or better the performance delivered by Highfield’s big pack.

Having gone so close to promotion last term, ‘Field boss Tim Ryan acknowledged that drawn games and not gaining enough bonus points let them down in the end. “I think it’s a harder league this year, even more competitive. We’ll give it one game at a time and take it from there,” he said.

Galwegians (3rd) v City of Armagh (5th), Crowley Park

An intriguing match-up here with Galwegians having been demoted from Division 1B a few months back, while City of Armagh came up with Greystones from 2B. Armagh were 30-26 winners over ‘Stones last Saturday, settling the issue with a late penalty try off reset scrums.

Two of the best young out-halves in the division are set to come up against each other. Armagh’s Cormac Fox began the new league season with a 13-point kicking haul, while ‘Wegians number 10 Morgan Codyre finished with 16 points thanks to three final quarter penalties in Cashel.

Armagh boss Willie Faloon has increased competition for places this week with some players back from injury, Evin Crummie returning from Ulster Under-19 duty and the likes of Harry Doyle, Andrew Morton and Ryan Purvis all impressing for the club’s seconds team last time out.