Division 1B leaders Highfield face another big test of their promotion credentials when fourth-placed Old Belvedere pay them a visit on Saturday afternoon. The 1.30pm kick-off between Shannon and City of Armagh should also produced fireworks.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1B: Saturday, November 9
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
#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.
The Rugby Survey for 2019 is live and will run until the end of this week. 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.
SHANNON (5th) v CITY OF ARMAGH (3rd), Thomond Park back pitch, 1.30pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LWWL; City of Armagh: WWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Billy Gray 24; Tries: Pa Ryan 4; City of Armagh: Points: Cormac Fox 36; Tries: Andrew Willis 3
Preview: Ulster opposition again for Shannon and a chance to right the wrongs of their 34-14 loss away to Banbridge. They are back on home soil for an earlier than usual kick-off against third-placed City of Armagh who have a three-out-of-four record so far.
Armagh head coach Willie Faloon makes two changes to the team that won 19-0 at Navan, promoting forwards Daryl Morton and James Hanna from the bench for the trip down to Limerick.
Opposing out-halves Billy Gray and Cormac Fox are among the division’s leading scorers, tallying up 60 points between them during the first four rounds. Captains Lee Nicholas and Robert Whitten will undoubtedly play key roles in the forward exchanges.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win
BANBRIDGE (8th) v NAAS (9th), Rifle Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Banbridge: LLLW; Naas: LLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Banbridge: Points: Adam Doherty 21; Tries: Stevie Irvine, Neil Kilpatrick, Greg Jones 2 each; Naas: Points: Fionn Higgins 15; Tries: Fionn Higgins 3
Preview: Ireland underage internationals Bruce Houston and David McCann, who are both part of the Ulster Academy, will start for Banbridge against Naas tomorrow. Ulster hooker John Andrew is also on duty for the Co. Down outfit.
The 19-year-old McCann slots in at blindside flanker in a back row led by Ulster’s Greg Jones, who grabbed two of their five tries against Shannon. Winless Naas claimed their own try-scoring bonus point against Malone, with elusive winger Fionn Higgins scoring his third try of the season.
Bann boss Mark McDonnell commented: “It was great to get that first win under our belts. Greg Jones was outstanding. We have a lot of respect for Naas but our challenge now is to back up and improve on that performance against Shannon.”
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 20, 2018: Naas 16 Banbridge 20, Forenaughts; Saturday, March 23, 2019: Banbridge 21 Naas 42, Rifle Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Banbridge to win
HIGHFIELD (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), Woodleigh Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Highfield: WWWW; Old Belvedere: WWWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Highfield: Points: Shane O’Riordan 39; Tries: Colin O’Neill 4; Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 54; Tries: James McKeown, Jack Keating 3 each
Preview: Highfield and Old Belvedere top and tail the top four at present, the unbeaten Corkmen armed with a two-point lead at the summit. This mouth-watering clash brings together sharpshooting duo Shane O’Riordan (39 points) and Steve Crosbie (54) who both have plenty of match-winning potential.
Breaking up Highfield’s power game is Old Belvedere’s main aim, a very hard task given the home pack boasts players of the calibre of player-coach Tim Ryan, captain Fintan O’Sullivan and experienced number 8 Miah Cronin.
‘Belvo’s back-three has a new-look to it with Fergus Flood now stationed at full-back and Ariel Robles coming in on the left wing. Jamie McAleese joins skipper Crosbie in midfield, and Ger Hill is promoted from the bench to pack down at the base of the scrum.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Highfield to win
MALONE (6th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), Gibson Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Malone: LLWW; St. Mary’s College: WLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Malone: Points: Callum Smith 25; Tries: Ross Todd, Peter Cooper, Angus Kernohan 2 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Ruairi Shields 25; Tries: Hugo Conway 3
Preview: Contrasting fortunes for these teams in recent rounds, with Malone enjoying their first couple of wins under new head coach Chris Henry and St. Mary’s College suffering three defeats on the trot by 10 points or less.
Henry says Malone’s ‘potential is massive and we just have to try and get it out of each other’, as they look to climb further up the table. Graham Curtis, Ross Kane and Dave Cave are their changes in personnel this week, while Ulster’s Angus Kernohan moves to outside centre.
Mary’s feel their results are not reflecting their performances. A late Darren Moroney try was ruled out for a forward pass in their narrow loss to Highfield. They are one of the lowest scoring sides in the division, despite the best efforts of flying winger Hugo Conway who has three tries to his name.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 13, 2018: Malone 18 St. Mary’s College 10, Gibson Park; Saturday, April 6, 2019: St. Mary’s College 38 Malone 36, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Malone to win
OLD WESLEY (2nd) v NAVAN (10th), Energia Park, 4.30pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Old Wesley: WWWW; Navan: LLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Wesley: Points: Rory Stynes 36; Tries: Conor Barry 2; Navan: Points: Colm O’Reilly, Evan Dixon, Riaan van der Vyver 10 each; Tries: Evan Dixon, Riaan van der Vyver 2 each
Preview: A big factor in Old Wesley winning their first four fixtures has been their miserly defence. They are conceding an average of just under 10 points per game – and they finished the right side of a 11-10 verdict against Old Belvedere last Saturday thanks to flanker Conor Barry’s maul try.
Club captain Iain McGann slots back into the second row as Wesley’s only change for tomorrow’s tussle with bottom-placed Navan. The Waterford-Cork pairing of Tom Kiersey and Charlie O’Regan get the nod again at half-back.
After Navan were held scoreless by Armagh last week, player-coach Ray Moloney has reacted by making three personnel changes. Colm O’Reilly comes in at out-half, Shane Faulkner is added to the front row, and Colm Carpenter fills the blindside berth. Conor Hand shifts to the second row.
Recent League Meetings – N/A
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win