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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

The top of the table clash between Sligo and Omagh is the headline act of Saturday’s schedule in Ulster Bank League Division 2C, with the Seapoint v Malahide derby also drawing plenty of attention.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, October 7

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Bangor (5th) v Thomond (3rd), Upritchard Park

Bangor and Thomond have been involved in some very tight affairs so far, with seven points the biggest winning margin for either side. Back-to-back bonus point wins have the Soda Cakes marginally better off in third place.

Thomond’s backs have been in scorching form with Darragh O’Neill, Ger Finucane and Dean O’Brien all tallying up three tries across the opening rounds. It will be interesting to see how they fare against the Bangor defence, which is currently the meanest in the division.

Jason Morgan’s Seasiders, who are unchanged this week, had the measure of Midleton in the previous round, the trip to Cork seeing former Bangor Grammar School student Lewis Bret show his searing pace with his second brilliantly-taken try from half-back in as many games.

Bective Rangers (10th) v Midleton (7th), Donnybrook

Struggling Bective know that one win could be enough to turn things around for them. With an average of 46 points conceded across the first three rounds, a reinforced defence will be vital for the visit of seventh-placed Midleton.

The Corkmen may be in the bottom half of the table but they are only four points behind pace-setting Omagh. They are very adept at picking up points on the road, while winger Rian Hogan and number 8 Sean White have two tries each so far to supplement Stuart Lee’s goal-kicking.

Notably, Bective have conceded 21, 21 and 33 points respectively in the second halves of their three matches to date. So, they really need to knuckle down and find a consistent level of performance – and no better place to do it than Donnybrook.

Sligo (2nd) v Omagh (1st), Hamilton Park

The only two unbeaten teams left in the division meet in what should be a classic confrontation. Home advantage and their run through to the play-offs last term make Sligo favourites this weekend, but Omagh are certainly an up-and-coming force.

To say the Accies have hit the ground running is an understatement. Even with some ill-timed injuries, they have absorbed the highs and the lows of the first few weeks to climb to the summit. A great achievement but the hard work begins again at 2.30pm on Saturday. The fit-again Lee Murphy has been added to the bench.

One match-up that certainly stands out is at number 8 where Matthew Cosgrove, who says Sligo have benefited from their ‘best ever pre-season’, comes up against James Catterson, the scorer of two tries against Bective. Cosgrove, Mark Rooney and Shane O’Hehir – with two each – are Sligo’s top try scorers so far, while scrum half and captain Stewart McCain leads the way for Omagh with three.

Tullamore (9th) v Bruff (6th), Spollanstown

Tullamore turned in a much-improved second half performance against Malahide but are still chasing their first win. Kevin Browne, last season’s Player of the Year, and Sean Rigney are hitting very good form up front, which their team-mates need to match.

Bruff seem to specialise in strong finishes, Cillian Rea’s 75th-minute try seeing them win last season’s corresponding fixture 13-10 at Spollanstown, while a late David O’Grady penalty earned them a hard-fought draw at Sligo last week.

A titanic battle awaits in the scrum and maul, two areas that earned Bruff crucial points in the previous round. Tullamore will need parity there as well as a snappier start – they leaked two early tries in their 31-22 defeat to Malahide.

Seapoint (8th) v Malahide (4th), Kilbogget Park, 4pm

Division 2C new boys Malahide end their first month in the league with a second Dublin derby, facing fellow coastal club Seapoint who boast a proud recent record at their Kilbogget Park base.

Eric Miller’s men are on a five-match winning streak at home, beating Midleton, Rainey, Kanturk and Bangor (2) along the way. Malahide’s two victories so far have come at home, so winning on the road is an important box to tick if they want to enhance their top-four prospects.

It should be a fascinating contest in Killiney as Seapoint have one of the best defences in the division and the visitors are the only club to score 100 points after three rounds. ‘Point will have to curb the influence of Malahide’s pacy full-back Dave Mongan, who was a Division 1 title winner with Old Belvedere in 2011.