Preview of christmas period club rugby action...


In the Ulster Bank All Ireland League Rainey OB made the long journey to Cork last weekend to play Sunday’s Well. The Ulster visitors came away from Irish Independent Park with a narrow 29 – 21 win thanks to two late tries from winger Andrew Donaghy. The win keeps Rainey in 2nd place in Div 2B seven points behind leaders Old Crescent with a game in hand. In the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship, Div 1 there were wins for Instonians, Dromore, CIYMS and Enniskillen last Saturday. Instonians closed the gap on leaders Ballyclare to two points after scoring nine tries in their emphatic 59 – 14 home win over Portadown at Shaws bridge. Dromore bounced back from their defeat at Cooke to record an impressive 27 – 3 win over Coleraine at Barban Hill. CIYMS maintained their top four ambitions with a 28 – 8 win over Cooke in the Belfast derby at Belmont. At Mullaghmeen Enniskillen scored five tries as they picked up a much needed bonus point win over 10th place Clogher Valley 31 – 0. It leaves Ballyclare, Instonians, Dromore and Carrickfergus occupying the top four positions with CIYMS, Cooke, Coleraine and Enniskillen filling the middle four places with six points separating these two teams. Portadown and Clogher Valley occupy 9th and 10th place as both teams go in search of much needed league points. Between the 30th of December and the 27th January the Div 1 teams will play five league matches that will determine who will challenge for the league title and the top four finishing places and who will occupy the bottom two places going into the final league games. In Div 2 Grosvenor remain undefeated after nine games to hold on to their 1st place in this league. They were pushed all the way by a talented Randalstown team who came back from a 29 – 10 deficit at halftime to narrow the Grosvenor lead to 29 – 25 with 10 minutes remaining. Grosvenor showed why they are promotion favourites by scoring a late converted try to win 36 – 25. There was another crucial game in the bottom half of this Division at the John Hunter Grounds with the home side Limavady giving up a 16 – 3 second half lead to lose out to a late Stewart Paul try converted by Paul Cox to give Ards their first away win of the season 17 – 16. In Div 3 Lurgan maintained their position at the top, scoring 11 tries in their 71 – 0 win over Hollywood at Pollack Park. Donegal conceded their game at Donaldson Park against Donaghadee as the North Down side maintain their challenge in 2nd place two points behind Lurgan. In Conference league 1, Champions Ballynahinch seconds were defeated 22 – 17 at Carrickfergus with one point now separating City of Armagh, Ballynahinch and Ballyclare with two games to be played. In Conference league 2 it is down to a contest between leaders Grosvenor and Malone seconds for the league title with four points separating the two teams with Malone having a game in hand. Looking ahead to the fixtures in the 3rd round of the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership on the 30th December we have City of Armagh out in front and favourites to retain the Stevenson Shield in Div 1. In Div 2 Queens University are looking well placed to be promoted to Div 1 next season. The 12 Ulster UBL teams will be using these fixtures to complete preparations for the second half of their UBL programme that commences on the 6th January. In the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship, Div 1 we have an East Antrim derby involving Ballyclare and neighbours Carrickfergus at the Cloughan on Boxing Day. On the 30th December Dromore will look to consolidate their 3rd place with another win at Clogher Valley as the Fivemiletown team fight for league points to keep their place in Div 1. The two newly promoted teams Coleraine and CIYMS meet at Rugby Avenue, Coleraine in a game that could determine their ambitions to finish in the top four and qualify for the AIL Junior Cup next season. Instonians and Cooke meet at Shawsbridge next Saturday in a derby match that brings out an intensity in rivalry that you will not see in many other club games this season. In Div 2 PSNI and Limavady meet in the league at Newforge with both teams needing the points to avoid finishing in 9th and 10th place. UUC travel to a resurgent Ards team looking for a strong second half finish to their season. Randalstown will be looking maximum points at Nelisbrook Park against Larne to maintain their challenge for a top two finish. KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONFERENCE DIV 2

Limavady v Malone seconds. Saturday 23.12.17. Kick off 1.30PM KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1

Ballyclare v Carrickfergus. Tuesday 26.12.17. Kick off 2.30PM SONI ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP DIV 1 ROUND 3

Saturday 30.12.17 Banbridge (4) v Ballymena (3) City of Armagh (1) v City of Derry (6) Malone (2) v Ballynahinch (5) SONI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 2 ROUND 3

Bangor (5) v Queens University (1) Belfast Harlequins (2) v Rainey OB (4) Omagh (6) v Dungannon (3) KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1

Clogher Valley (10) v Dromore (3) Coleraine (7) v CIYMS (5) Cooke (6) v Instonians (2) KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONFERENCE DIV 1

Ballynahinch seconds (2) v Enniskillen (10) Portadown (11) v City of Armagh seconds (1) KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 2

Ards (6) v UUC (10) PSNI (9) v Limavady (8) Randalstown (3) v Larne (5) KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONFERENCE DIV 2

Ballymena seconds (9) v Academy (7) Ballymoney (3) v Malone seconds (2) Omagh seconds (6) v Lisburn (12) KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 3

Cavan (7) v Monaghan (4) Donegal Town (12) v BHSFP (6) Holywood (8) v Virginia (5) Letterkenny (11) v Lurgan (1) Newry (9) v Donaghadee (2) Strabane (3) v Civil Service (10)

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