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All-Ireland League: Division 2B Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2B Previews

Three of this weekend’s All-Ireland League Division 2B fixtures take place in Leinster with Dr. Hickey Park, Parsonstown and the back pitch at Irish Rugby HQ hosting big clashes, including leaders MU Barnhall against third-placed Sunday’s Well.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, November 3

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Corinthians (8th) v Dungannon (5th), Corinthian Park

While disappointed with the result, Corinthians’ strong scrummaging earned them a late losing bonus point as they went down 21-17 at Rainey Old Boys. They face Ulster opposition again tomorrow and need to make the most out of a run of three home matches in four rounds.

The availability of Connacht Academy forwards Matthew Burke, Dylan Tierney and Cian Huxford certainly helps their cause. This will be the Galway club’s first meeting with Dungannon since a 31-5 victory at home in March 2014.

‘Gannon, who lost 20-8 to Sunday’s Well, will travel with a similar squad although suspended prop Glenn Sinnamon is replaced by Ross Stewart and centres Mervyn Brown and Lucca Avelli face fitness tests. Head coach Andy Hughes said: “We’ll go to Corinthians with confidence. We’ve been playing well, our attack has been very, very good. We just are still not fully gelling yet.”

Greystones (2nd) v Sligo (6th), Dr. Hickey Park

High-flying Greystones will be happy to be back at home after a frustratingly long three-hour trip to make their kick-off against Skerries last Friday night. Kevin Lewis’ charges followed up with seven tries and 55 points, while also getting the fit-again Dan Mannion and Alan Dempsey back on the pitch.

Former captain Mannion and Dempsey have returned from long-term knee injuries. Lewis highlighted discipline as an area for improvement after ‘Stones leaked ten first half penalties, noting they need to be quicker to the breakdown.

That will be area for Sligo to target as they chase their first win in three rounds. Their three defeats have been by eight points or less, so Paddy Pearson’s side are not far off putting together consistent results. Ryan Feehily, a regular at centre or on the wing, has already scored four tries for the Yeats men.

MU Barnhall (1st) v Sunday’s Well (3rd), Parsonstown

Sunday’s Well are next to challenge MU Barnhall’s perfect record, which now stands at 20 points-out-of-20 after their 38-21 success at Belfast Harlequins. The Kildare men have notched 23 tries so far, with pacy backs Conor Lacey (5) and Eoghain Quinn (3) leading the way.

The ‘Well lost the corresponding fixture last season (11-6), but a 22-all draw with the Blue Bulls completed a much-improved second half of the campaign. Notably, three wingers – Sean Keohane, James Kiernan and Paddy Hegarty – shared out their tries against Dungannon last Saturday.

The Corkmen travel to Parsonstown armed with the best defensive record in the division, leaking an average of 15 points per match. However, Barnhall have scored exactly double the ‘Well’s points so far – 148 against 74 – and their free-flowing attack should net them another win.

Rainey Old Boys (10th) v Skerries (9th), Hatrick Park

That was much more like it from Rainey Old Boys last week as they posted their first win – 21-17 against Corinthians. Back-to-back home victories will be their reward if John Andrews’ young side continue to make improvements tomorrow afternoon.

There are a few changes with Scott McLean coming in at full-back, Michael O’Neill shifting to the wing and Oisin Quinn taking over at centre from the injured Conor Fitzsimons. Stephen Rutledge will start in the front row, while former Ulster lock Tim Barker faces a fitness test.

Number 8 Ross McAuley, with a terrific individual try, was the pick of the Skerries players against Greystones, although they struggled to perform as a collective. They also have sharpshooting out-half Bill Mulcahy (47 points) in impressive goal-kicking form, and he could be the man to end their winless start to the season.

Wanderers (4th) v Belfast Harlequins (7th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

After playing on the main pitch and at Merrion Road, this will be Wanderers’ first home outing of the season on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch. Since losing on the opening night to Greystones, the Chaps have gone three games unbeaten.

Peter Brougham, who kicked an important 13 points during last week’s 28-20 win at Sligo, will have Conor McQuaid back alongside him at half-back. Eoin O’Shaughnessy reverts to the left wing with Marty Ryan restored at full-back. The pack is bolstered by Fionan Sheehan, Matt Coakley, Brian Hanratty and Eoghan Nihill.

Injury sidelines Belfast Harlequins’ Kiwi lock Troy Webber this week, so Toby Mannus moves to the second row to partner captain Danny Annett. Ben Alexander is back at number 8, and the back-line from the 38-21 loss to Barnhall is also rejigged as Peter Dunlop come in on the left wing, Ben Sloan switches to full-back, and Mark Glover pairs up with Mark Gribben in midfield.