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Armagh and Bann in crunch battles as title bids gather pace

By Michael Sadlier

Banbridge and Armagh will be looking to make big strides this weekend in their races to potentially secure the titles in Divisions 2A and 2B respectively.

Bann lead their division by two points from Highfield, while Armagh are second to Greystones only by points differential, so it looks as if top spot will be going down to the wire in the races for automatic promotion.

Bann are at Blackrock, who are in seventh, and a win would be a great boost to Dan Soper's side as their nearest challengers Highfield and Nenagh meet each other, but both still have a game in hand on the Co Down squad who have gone close to being promoted before.

Soper is boosted by having former Ulster and Connacht scrum-half Ian Porter back from injury while Andy Magrath returns from Ulster 'A' duty.

"These are the games that win you leagues and I expect a big performance," said Soper.

Elsewhere in 2A, fourth plays fifth as Malone entertain Queen's University with the students only two points behind, though both sides also have games in hand.

Bottom club Belfast Harlequins are at fellow strugglers Sunday's Well.

Armagh host Dungannon in their 2B clash as they seek to try and nudge ahead of Greystones, who are at home to struggling Bective.

Eighth-placed City of Derry have a vital game at basement side Thomond.

In 2C, both Rainey and Bangor could do with wins but for very different reasons.

Rainey, in third, will be looking to secure their play-off status as they host Midleton, while eighth-placed Bangor badly need to halt their slide in form with a positive result at bottom club Boyne to keep clear of the basement.

Div 2A: Blackrock College v Banbridge, Corinthians v Cashel, Malone v Queen's, Nenagh v Highfield, Sunday's Well v Belfast Harlequins.

Div 2B: Skerries v Barnhall (Fri), Armagh v Dungannon, Greystones v Bective, Thomond v City of Derry, Wanderers v Old Crescent.

Div 2C: Tullamore v Navan (Fri), Boyne v Bangor, Bruff v Seapoint, Kanturk v Sligo, Rainey v Midleton.

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