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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A/2B/2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A/2B/2C Previews

There are some big Ulster Bank League games on the agenda this afternoon, particularly in Division 2C where crucial ground in the race for the play-offs could be made at Omagh and Thomond.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: Saturday, March 10-Sunday, March 11

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DIVISION 2A:

Galwegians (7th) v Malone (1st), Crowley Park, today, 12.30pm
 
This fixture does not seem as daunting to Galwegians as it would have been a few weeks ago. A run of wins over Greystones, Nenagh Ormond and Queen’s University have lifted the Blues off bottom spot and up to seventh place.
 
Brian McClearn’s
men still have work to do to hold onto their divisional status, but the future does seem a lot brighter with the forwards looking more cohesive, club legend John Cleary out of retirement and young out-half Morgan Codyre tallying up 33 points in the last three rounds.
 
Leaders Malone should prove a class apart, though, as they look to widen the seven-point margin between themselves and second-placed Highfield. Blackrock were overwhelmed by their firepower, conceding 54 points with goal-kicking winger Rory Campbell scoring 24 of those, and Andy Bryans coming off the bench to bag a hat-trick of tries.

DIVISION 2B:

Wanderers (5th) v Old Crescent (1st), Merrion Road, tomorrow, 2.30pm
 
Wanderers gained a vital win away to Navan in the last round, closing the gap on the fourth-placed Meath men to a single point. Tom Walsh, Brian Quill, Diarmuid Higgins and Marty Ryan scored a try each for Greg Lynch’s side.
 
Old Crescent’s class of 2017/18 made history with a 104-point demolition of bottom side City of Derry, racking up 16 tries – including a Val McDermott hat-trick. The unbeaten table toppers continue to hit high standards in everything they do.
 
However, Brendan Guilfoyle’s charges will not have forgotten October’s home clash with Wanderers. They were 20-19 winners thanks to winger McDermott’s 45th-minute converted try, but the Chaps, who had two players sin-binned, emerged with much credit for a battling performance.

DIVISION 2C:

Bruff (6th) v Tullamore (10th), Kilballyowen Park, today, 12pm
 
Bruff have failed to ‘kick on’ from their encouraging Limerick derby victory over Thomond in January. They are winless in the last three rounds and leaked 37 points to Seapoint three weeks ago.
 
However, this could be the game that quickens their pursuit of a play-off spot. They have four points to make up on Bangor, in fourth, and will surely make home advantage count against the division’s bottom side.
 
Consistency has been frustratingly out of reach for Tullamore who have gone from beating Sligo 32-17 to losing three on the bounce. They will hope to catch Bruff on the hop, especially as it is top-four opposition for them throughout the concluding three rounds.

Omagh (5th) v Sligo (3rd), Thomas Mellon Playing Fields, today, 12pm
 
Sligo will have felt much more like their old selves after putting 45 points on Bective Rangers. Their seven-try haul included braces from impressive number 8 Matthew Cosgrove and out-half Mike Wells.
 
Former Connacht player Mata Fifita has been prominent on his return to league action, combining well in Sligo’s midfield with Mark Butler. They can expect a serious test from Omagh who want to banish memories of October’s 52-15 humbling at the hands of Ross Mannion’s squad.
 
Omagh boss Phil Marshall, whose team trail third-placed Sligo by four points, said: “The Sligo game is massive for us. They put a big score on us down there and we are all looking forward to the return game this weekend.”

Thomond (2nd) v Bangor (4th), Liam Fitzgerald Park, today, 12.30pm
 
Thomond need to respond to Malahide’s bonus point success against Seapoint in midweek, a result which moved the Soda Cakes off the summit but with only three points the difference.
 
Young out-half Evan Cusack was Thomond’s hero when he scored all 19 points in their narrow win over Midleton in the last round. They look in much better shape than early October when Bangor beat them 36-14.
 
The Seasiders registered five tries that day, including a brace from winger David Charles. The Bangor back-line will certainly miss the crisp passing and sniping of talented young scrum half Lewis Bret during the run-in. He is flying to New Zealand on Monday to play for a club in Auckland for the rest of the season.