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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Malahide and Seapoint, two of the successful teams from round 9, will have home advantage today as they look to complete season’s doubles over Omagh and Tullamore, while table toppers Sligo are on the road to Bangor as they target win number eight of the campaign.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, December 9

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.

Bangor (6th) v Sligo (1st), Upritchard Park

Bangor left the result behind them at Hamilton Park last Saturday, conceding a late scrum penalty which gave Sligo a tight 9-7 verdict. Their scrummaging was excellent on the day, earning them six penalties and a penalty try over the 80 minutes.

Sligo know they will face an even stiffer test up north, especially with player-coach Lewis Stevenson returning to Bangor’s engine room. Ross Mannion’s men have a busy pre-Christmas schedule, which include next week’s Connacht Senior Cup final against Corinthians.

Ryan Latimer dislocated his shoulder during the Strandhill tie, so Jamie Clegg is set to deputise in the Bangor back row. Flanker Manu Parkin, one of three New Zealanders in the Sligo ranks this season, is wielding more influence with each passing game.

Malahide (3rd) v Omagh (4th), Estuary Road

Malahide’s home form has been terrific so far with four wins, 136 points scored and only 36 conceded. They have one of the most potent wingers in the division with Marcus McAllister taking his season’s haul to seven with a brace away to Omagh last Saturday.

Today’s return fixture at Estuary Road sees Rick Evans’ men aiming for their third victory of the calendar year over the Accies, including last April’s 26-17 Round Robin series success in Co. Tyrone. McAllister also touched down twice that day.

Following last week’s disappointing 27-5 defeat at home to the Dubliners, Omagh boss Phil Marshall has brought the fit-again Neil Brown in at full-back for the unavailable Ali Beckett, while Phil Ewing has earned a bench spot. Marshall wants a big reaction from his players.

Midleton (9th) v Bruff (5th), Towns Park

Early tries in each half were crucial in Bruff getting over the finish line in last week’s first encounter, although the four-point margin (17-13) suggests that Midleton can make home advantage count here if they can cut down on their mistakes.

It would be a significant result for Midleton if they can prevail, as they have lost their last three games against Limerick opposition, including last April’s 22-17 defeat to Bruff at Towns Park. Having fallen into the bottom top, they need to deliver a big performance on home turf.

Bruff boast the second meanest defence in the division at present but remain one of the lowest scoring teams, so converting more of their scoring chances is a must if Tony Cahill’s men want to bed into the top four in the New Year and push for promotion.

Seapoint (7th) v Tullamore (10th), Kilbogget Park

If Seapoint can continue on the winning trail this afternoon, coaches Eric Miller and Damien McCabe will be able to plot for 2018 with renewed confidence. Considering they lost five of their first seven games, ‘Point have shown what they are made of in recent weeks.

Despite the positivity surrounding last week’s 23-20 win at Tullamore, which included a first senior try for winger Alex Guerin, the south Dubliners will agree that there was very little between the teams. It look a late penalty try to split them.

Despite dropping to the bottom rung of the league ladder, there will be no panicking from Tullamore as the three sides above them are all within a five-point range. John Burns’ charges are capable of much better and will hope to turn the corner in the coming rounds.

Thomond (2nd) v Bective Rangers (8th), Liam Fitzgerald Park

Bective Rangers showed their mettle and more in last week’s doughty 9-3 defeat of second-placed Thomond, overcoming hooker Adam Cullen’s early red card and a fiercely committed but error-strewn performance from the visitors.

Bective have really knuckled down defensively, showing an organisation and iron will that is stopping opponents in their tracks. That said, they will be expecting a big backlash today from the Soda Cakes who will be desperate to avoid a third loss in a row.

Both clubs are on the comeback trail after suffering relegation from Division 2B last term. New head coach James Hickey is leading Thomond’s charge for immediate promotion, while Nigel Osborne and Fergal Campion have taken the reins at Donnybrook. Bective’s most recent trip to Liam Fitzgerald Park saw them hammer the hosts 49-10 in September of last year.