Week 4 was a good weekend for most Ulster clubs with Banbridge, Malone and Ballynahinch taking full advantage of Nass’s rearranged fixture against Old Wesley to move into positions 1 – 3 at the top of the league. However, Banbridge’s bonus point win was at the expense of, fellow Ulster club, Ballymena who remain in bottom spot and City of Armagh’s inconsistent season continued with a loss on the road at St Mary’s.
The results left the table as follows.
|St Mary’s College||4||2||0||2||96||96||0||2||0||10|
|City of Armagh||4||1||1||2||63||55||8||1||1||8|
Before we look at this week’s fixtures let’s have a look at who’s been doing what over the first four rounds.
AIL 1B Leading Points Scorers (Week 4)
|Steve Crosbie||Old Belvedere||1||8||5||0||36|
AIL 1B Leading Try Scorers (Week 4)
|Jack Keating||Old Belvedere||4||0||0||0||20|
|Andrew Smyth||City of Armagh||3||0||0||0||15|
|Paul Harte||Old Wesley||3||0||0||0||15|
It’s probably no coincidence that Banbridge top all three tables, the prolific boot of Adam Doherty and the remarkable try scoring record of Peter Cromie keeping them ahead of the pack.
We’ll continue to update these points tables every four weeks or so.
And so to this weeks fixtures which set up a few interesting clashes, all games kicking off at 14:30 on Saturday 3rd November. The Ulster and Ireland fixtures will have a knock on effect on player availability for the Ulster clubs this weekend.
|Ballymena||v||City of Armagh||Eaton Park|
|Banbridge||v||Old Wesley||Rifle Park|
|Old Belvedere||v||St Mary’s College||Anglesea Road|
Nass v Ballynahinch
This should comfortably be the tie of the round and Ballynahinch can do themselves, and the other Ulster clubs, a big favour if they can get a win on the road.
Academy players Zac McCall and Iwan Hughes are available at hooker and in the back three respectively and Rhys O’Donnell and Richard Reaney will be looking to add to the five tries they scored last week. However Hilton Gibbons will be looking a better return from the boot if the Ulster side are to maximise their points.
Nass won’t have enjoyed watching three Ulster clubs leapfrog them in the league last week, as the bonus point wins rolled in, and they’ll be keen to get back on top. Having sat last week out they may be slow out of the traps and that might make all the difference as we tip Hinch to hold on for a narrow away win.
Ballymena v City of Armagh
Ballymena hit the self destruct button last week with two yellow cards in a game where they struggled to turn possession into points. Despite the scoreline, against Banbridge, Ballymena weren’t that far off the pace but their back line didn’t have the threat to unduly worry the home sides defence. Of their Academy players, only Marcus Rea is available, so their struggles may persist.
Armagh looked to have turned a corner when they beat Malone 2 weeks ago but they didn’t follow it up last week on the road against St Mary’s and they haven’t picked up the points they should have this season. However it’s familiar opposition this week and they should be leaving Eaton Park with a win.
Banbridge v Old Wesley
Despite missing a few Academy players from last week Banbridge will still be looking to push on and consolidate their position at the top of the league. They certainly converted their chances well last week and Adam Doherty is on excellent form with the boot, keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
Old Wesley, like Nass, are playing catch up in the league and though they have dogged out a wi nand a draw this season they they haven’t exactly been setting our scoring charts on fire. They have only scored one try, through Paul Harte, in their last two games and Banbridge should have too much firepower all over the park.
Buccaneers v Malone
It’s looking like a strong Malone side that will be making the trip to Athlone. Ross Kane and Joe Dunleavy should be in the squad with Matthew Dalton and Stewart Moore also possibles and they will be eyeing a bonus point win against the Connacht side.
Buccaneers did win their last outing at Dubarry Park two weeks ago but it’s their only win to date this season and I suspect that Malone will be too strong.