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Energia All-Ireland League: Division 1B Previews

Energia All-Ireland League: Division 1B Previews

Old Belvedere speedster Jack Keating tries to break clear from Old Wesley's Tom Kiersey and Josh Miller at Energia Park last season ©Deryck Vincent

Four of Saturday’s Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B are in Leinster, and the newly-named Ollie Campbell Park will play host to what is sure to be a super-charged local derby between Old Belvedere and Old Wesley.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

The Rugby Survey for 2019 is live and will run until the end of the Rugby World Cup. This short survey is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in rugby to help shape the future of the sport and drive decision making in the IRFU. Click here to take part.

#EnergiaAILTry Of The Month has returned for the 2019/20 season. The competition is in its third year and entries are now open to tries scored in all divisions of the Men’s and Women’s Energia All-Ireland League. Click here for entry information.

NAAS (8th) v MALONE (7th), Forenaughts

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Naas: LLL; Malone: LLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Fionn Higgins, Bryan Croke 10 each; Tries: Fionn Higgins 2; Malone: Points: Callum Smith 20; Tries: Ross Todd 2

Preview: Naas are one of only three clubs yet to taste victory in Division 1B. They fell the wrong side of tight results against City of Armagh and Old Wesley before leaders Highfield ran out 18-point winners last time out.

Dan van Zyl’s men have been impacted by injuries and player turnover, but they will fancy their chances tomorrow afternoon against a Malone team who are also still bedding in under new head coach Chris Henry.

Ulster’s Angus Kernohan moves to full-back for the Cregagh Red Sox, with their rearranged back-line now led by Jack Milligan and Lewis Finlay at half-back. Claytan Milligan, Peter Cooper and Matthew Agnew rejoin the starting forwards.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 19, 2015: Naas 34 Malone 40, Forenaughts; Saturday, March 26, 2016: Malone 8 Naas 25, Gibson Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Naas to win

NAVAN (9th) v CITY OF ARMAGH (5th), Balreask Old

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Navan: LLL; City of Armagh: WWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Navan: Points: Colm O’Reilly, Evan Dixon, Riaan van der Vyver 10 each; Tries: Evan Dixon, Riaan van der Vyver 2 each; City of Armagh: Points: Cormac Fox 24; Tries: Andrew Willis 3

Preview: Navan were held try-less by Shannon last time out, remaining ninth overall. Player-coach Ray Moloney has reacted to the 16-3 defeat by making five changes, including the selection of brothers Evan and Kyle Dixon in midfield.

It is almost six years since Navan last hosted City of Armagh in a league game. Back then they claimed a 32-24 success and a repeat result would do nicely as they look to move away from the lower reaches of the table.

Armagh are smarting from a two-point home loss to Old Belvedere. Neil Faloon is back at number 8 this week, while Jonny Pollock teams up with Evin Crummie in the centre, and there is also a starting spot for South African lock JJ Scheepers.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 30, 2013: Navan 32 City of Armagh 24, Balreask Old; Saturday, September 27, 2014: City of Armagh 20 Navan 15, Palace Grounds

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win

OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v OLD WESLEY (3rd), Ollie Campbell Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WWW; Old Wesley: WWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 54; Tries: James McKeown, Jack Keating 3 each; Old Wesley: Points: Rory Stynes 30; Tries: Conor Barry, Tommy O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan, David Poff 1 each

Preview: This mouth-watering meeting of the Dublin 4 neighbours is set to end either Old Belvedere or Old Wesley’s winning start to the new league season. Unless there is a repeat of the nine-all draw from 13 months ago.

Unsurprisingly, Belvedere boss Andy Kenny has stuck with the side that won 28-26 in Armagh. Lightning-quick full-back Jack Keating has joined James McKeown on three tries, with captain Steve Crosbie already past the 50-point mark.

Wesley are looking for a Dublin double after overcoming St. Mary’s 26-16 most recently. Richard Walsh replaces Tommy O’Callaghan on the right wing, while Tipperary man Cronan Gleeson, who previously had a development contract with Munster, reclaims the number 3 jersey.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 13, 2018: Old Wesley 9 Old Belvedere 9, Energia Park; Saturday, April 6, 2019: Old Belvedere 30 Old Wesley 24, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (6th) v HIGHFIELD (1st), Templeville Road

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WLL; Highfield: WWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Ruairi Shields 19; Tries: Hugo Conway 2; Highfield: Points: Shane O’Riordan 30; Tries: Colin O’Neill 4

Preview: Another cracker of a game in prospect here as table-topping Highfield make the first of two trips to the capital before Christmas. There is no James Cronin this week but the Corkmen are sure to pack a punch up front again.

Mick Dillane’s inclusion for Cronin at loosehead prop is the only change to the Highfield team that swept Naas aside on a 38-20 scoreline. Top-scoring winger Colin O’Neill will be hoping to add to their four tries to date.

Mary’s backs Ruairi Shields and Hugo Conway have stood out for their scoring contributions so far. The winning and losing of this tie will be decided in the forwards, with the hosts needing big displays from captain Tom O’Reilly, Ronan Watters and Peter Starrett.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Highfield to win

BANBRIDGE (10th) v SHANNON (4th), Rifle Park, 4pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Banbridge: LLL; Shannon: LWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Banbridge: Points: Adam Doherty 12; Tries: Stevie Irvine, Neil Kilpatrick 2 each; Shannon: Points: Pa Ryan, Billy Gray 20 each; Tries: Pa Ryan 4

Preview: Bottom side Banbridge bring in Ulster’s John Andrew and Greg Jones at hooker and number 8 respectively for this later kick-off against Shannon. Joe Finnegan and Jonny Stewart are also promoted from the bench.

Banbridge head coach Mark McDowell said: “The lads are really looking forward to Saturday. We have two home games in the next block of three, so those are going to be big occasions for us and the guys were champing at the bit to get prepared for Shannon.”

Shannon have strung together a well-executed brace of victories, with centre Pa Ryan’s fourth try of the campaign helping them see off Navan 16-3. Head coach Tadhg Bennett said he was happy with their progress but still said they ‘have a lot to work on’ for the coming rounds.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 4, 2017: Shannon 33 Banbridge 14, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, February 3, 2018: Banbridge 15 Shannon 15, Rifle Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Banbridge to win