With Rainey Old Boys’ trip to Sunday’s Well rescheduled for December 16, unbeaten Old Crescent could extend their lead at home to third-placed Navan in Division 2B’s match of the day.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, December 2
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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City of Derry (10th) v Dungannon (7th), Craig Thompson Stadium, Judge’s Road
Can City of Derry repeat what they achieved twelve months ago when they turned their season around with a 16-15 home win over Dungannon? These back-to-back games have a huge amount riding on them.
Out-half Neil Burns’ two converted tries were their only highlights in a 49-14 hammering at MU Barnhall. Derry fielded an understrength side and will be pleased to welcome back Stephen Corr, Adam Bratton, Ross Harkin and Thomas Cole today.
Dungannon appear to be on the rise courtesy of wins over Belfast Harlequins and Wanderers. One player who has caught the eye is out-half Chris Swash, who tallied up 16 points against ‘Quins and touched down twice against Wanderers last time out.
Old Crescent (1st) v Navan (3rd), Rosbrien
If Old Crescent prevail against Navan, they will extend their lead at the summit over idle Rainey Old Boys, and complete a stunning nine-match winning run over the first half of the season.
Of course, that is easier said than done. Since the October Bank Holiday weekend, Navan have gone up through the gears to post four victories on the trot, scoring 117 points on the process.
The ball-carrying threat from centres Vaa Mailei and Riaan van der Vyver needs to be curbed by Crescent whose own explosive back-line will be looking to get the best out of regular scorers Larry Hanly and Val McDermott.
Skerries (6th) v MU Barnhall (5th), Holmpatrick
Skerries found the step up in opposition too much in November, with the current top three all securing wins against the Goats who only scored eight points in a hugely testing 240 minutes of rugby.
The key now is to start afresh with these home-and-away tussles with MU Barnhall, the club just above them in the table. The Blue Bulls have yet to win on the road this season, but they did so at Holmpatrick last March (14-7).
They ran riot at times against a weakened Derry outfit, the pick of their tries an outstanding 80-metre team score finished off in the left corner by lock Nathan Veltom. Full-back Conor Lennox scored a try on his Skerries debut against Rainey and looks a quality player.
Wanderers (4th) v Belfast Harlequins (9th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Doing the double over Belfast Harlequins would give Wanderers a timely lift after some patchy recent form, including last week’s 17-12 reversal at Dungannon.
They will be wary of a Harlequins side that gave leaders Crescent an almighty scare last Saturday in a 56-point thriller. Wanderers will look for big performances from the back row trio of Harley Murray, Eoghan Nihill and Paddy Mallon.
With Daniel Bingham and full-back Mark Glover both unavailable for ‘Quins today, Jaz Andress is set to move to blindside flanker with forwards coach Danny Annett coming into the second row, while Paul Kerr could take Glover’s place in the back-three as Matt McKenzie is back in the number 10 jersey.