It has all become very close in the AIL 1B after the last round, with only two points separating the top five sides. Despite both losing last week, Malone and Naas retain first and second place respectively but Banbridge, Ballynahinch and St Mary’s College are now all lurking a point behind, ready to launch a serious challenge.
Before we get to this weeks games let’s have a look at the latest statistics.
AIL 1B Current Standings.
|St Mary’s College||7||4||0||3||177||165||12||3||1||20|
|City of Armagh||7||3||1||3||117||101||16||1||2||17|
AIL 1B Leading Points Scorers
Naas’ Peter Osborne and Bucc’s Luke Carty maintain top spot in our Leading Points Scorers Table but there has been a bit of movement below with Old Wesley’s Rory Stines moving up two spots to third and Banbridge’s Adam Doherty moves up one.
|Rory Stines||Old Wesley||1||9||11||0||56|
|Steve Crosbie||Old Belvedere||1||12||8||0||53|
AIL 1B Leading Try Scorers
There have been three new additions to the Leading Try Scorers this week as Armagh’s Andrew Smyth and Ballymena’s Connor Smyth join in with four each. Also moving into the top of the table is St Mary’s College formidable pack (we assume) who have been awarded four penalty tries in the last three outings.
|Jack Keating||Old Belvedere||5||0||0||0||25|
|Andrew Smyth||City of Armagh||4||0||0||0||20|
|Penalty Try||St Mary’s College||4||4||0||0||28|
This weekend’s fixtures, which all kick off at 2:30 pm on Saturday the 8th December are as follows.
|Old Belvedere||v||Buccaneers||Anglesea Road|
|City of Armagh||v||Naas||Palace Gardens|
|Malone||v||Old Wesley||Gibson Park|
|St Mary’s College||v||Banbridge||Templeville Road|
Old Belvedere v Buccaneers
|Old Belvedere (9)||L||L||W||L||L|
Ninth place Belvo welcome eighth place Buccaneers to Anglesea Road with the home side desperately looking to get their season back on track after only picking up one win in the last five.
However, Buccaneers have shown a lot of improvement in recent weeks picking up two wins in their last five and a couple of their losses have been by the odd point. However the Connacht outfit have yet to pick up a win on the road.
Current form would point to a Bucc’s win and, as we said last week, Luke Carty is going to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors but we’re going to go with Belvo for this one with the Dublin side only losing one from four in the D4 area.
Ballymena v Ballynahinch
Bottom placed Ballymena welcome fourth placed Ballynahinch to Eaton Park with Ballymena looking to get off the bottom of the table with back to back home wins after a bonus point win against Old Belvedere at the same venue last week.
Unfortunately for the Braid men, in Ballynahinch, they face the form side in AIL 1B who have won four of their last five with solid if unspectacular performances.
Ballymena will see this as a chance to get off bottom spot with the two sides above them going head to head and they will certainly know their opposition well. However Hinch have been threatening to cut loose and I suspect that it might just happen tomorrow. Hinch for the win.
City of Armagh v Naas
|City of Armagh (6)||W||L||W||W||L|
A few weeks ago you would have put your house on, an impressive, Naas winning this one but since then the Co. Kildare side have suffered back to back losses and now it’s the Orchard County boys that go into this game as the form team.
Armagh have won all their home games since their opening day defeat to Old Wesley and despite losing last week they will take some confidence from their second half comeback against Buccaneers. However, producing a full 80 minutes has been their problem.
Naas have shipped two big reversals and they could slip out of the top four if they make it three on the trot. I expect that to be the incentive they need to get the win but I can see this one going either way.
Malone v Old Wesley
|Old Wesley (7)||L||L||W||W||L|
Malone will be keen to bounce back from their defeat by Banbridge at Rifle Park last Saturday and they will be particularly disappointed that they didn’t pick up any sort of point from the game.
Old Wesley will feel similarly after their defeat at Donnybrook by Ballynahinch. It was a game where they had their chances but they seemed happier to play the percentage game rather than really push for the win. However the Dublin side’s three win this season have been against Ulster sides and two of those were on the road, at Armagh and Banbridge, so they have no concerns about travelling north.
Like most of these fixtures in this entertaining league, this has the makings of another great game. malone have turned on the style the three ties they have played at home this season and we expect they’ll do it again in this one which will be our featured match. Malone to win.
St Mary’s College v Banbridge
|St Mary’s College (5)||L||W||L||W||W|
Another game that looks like it’s going to be a close one. Two sides only separated by points difference and they are both on the same sort of form with three wins each from their last five outings.
Banbridge will still be on a high after their convincing win against league leaders Malone last week but they haven’t generally travelled well with with only one win from three on the road. That win however was at Naas.
And the similarities between these two sides continue with St Mary’s picking up a big win on the road, also against Naas, last week and it was rather convincing win at that. Both teams also tend to play a forwards orientated game so this one will be like a chess match!
It’ll all depend on which pack performs best. Too close to call!