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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Ulster Bank League Division 2C enters 2018 with a shortened schedule of matches this afternoon, including another Ulster derby clash between Bangor and Omagh. Meanwhile, Bective Rangers could climb above Seapoint by completing a season’s double over their south Dublin rivals.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, January 6

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 Omagh (3rd), Upritchard Park

Competition for places is hotting up at both Bangor and Omagh as the Ulster pair move into the second half of the season. The third-placed Accies travel with plenty of confidence after defeating Dungannon in the Ulster Premiership, allied to their pre-Christmas league win at Malahide (19-12).

Omagh are lining up Richard Hemphill to replace shoulder injury victim Adam Pollock at hooker, with the game management of half-backs Scott Elliott and captain Stewart McCain likely to be crucial as they look to better November’s six-all draw with Bangor.

In battling back for a share of the spoils with leaders Sligo, Bangor showed what they are capable of in terms of mixing it with arguably the division’s best team. Although the Seasiders’ injury list has lessened in recent weeks, captain Phil Whyte and back rower Ryan Latimer have both been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Malahide (5th) v Midleton (9th), Estuary Road

Losing their unbeaten home record to Omagh will have gnawed at Malahide over the festive period. December actually saw them reverse their trend of winning at home and losing on their travels as they were 27-5 winners up in Co. Tyrone, putting together their best performance since coming up from the junior ranks.

Rick Evans’ men are the division’s leading scorers, with defences struggling to stop Marcus McAllister and Dave Mongan from crossing the whitewash. However, they were undone by Midleton in November, faltering in the final quarter as Stuart Lee won the race to his own chip through and then sent over two closing penalties for a 21-17 comeback victory.

That was the Cork side’s last success, though, and they now have six defeats on their record, as well as five losing bonus points. If Malahide play for the full 80 minutes, they should have the measure of the Red Devils, with a return to third place a possibility come full-time.

Seapoint (7th) v Bective Rangers (8th), Kilbogget Park

Seapoint and Bective both had a won one-and-lost one record from the December double headers. Despite the south Dublin pair now looking in a lot better shape than earlier in the season, they are still only a point or two away from being in the bottom two so this is a hugely important fixture.

Seapoint’s attack is really beginning to click into gear with fit-again New Zealander Bain Champion at the helm. The out-half bagged a brace of tries in their 23-22 defeat to Tullamore last time out, a frustrating result given their efforts in scoring three well-taken tries.

Eighth-placed Bective stayed just a point behind Seapoint in the table thanks to their second half fight-back against Thomond. Martin Smith, with his first senior try, and Adam Philpott both touched down to earn Rangers a losing bonus point, maintaining their run of picking up points in every round since the start of November.

Thomond (2nd) v Bruff (4th), Liam Fitzgerald Park (match has been refixed for Friday, January 12 and will be the first senior game to be played under the Liam Fitzgerald Park floodlights)

Tullamore (10th) v Sligo (1st), Spollanstown (match has been postponed to Saturday, January 20 as a mark of respect following the sudden death of Dean Cobbe from Tullamore)