Preview: Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup Second Round
February 9, 2018 11:55 am Site Editor
This Sunday 11th February, sees the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup return to centre stage on the Leinster Rugby calendar. After a weather affected opening round, 16 teams remain with the 13 winners from round one and three teams that received byes to the second round all putting their Towns Cup hopes on the line this Sunday.
League form can go out the window in 80 minutes of cup rugby and the beauty of the cup makes a level playing field despite a clubs league position and division.
North Kildare RFC v Wicklow RFC
The big upset from round one, was the North Kildare men toppling Division 1A side Dundalk 16-15. It was a massive win for the Kilcock based outfit but their passage through to a quarter final will be just as hard when they take on Wicklow, another division 1A club who won the competition back in 2016.
Wicklow had a facile 53-0 home win over Mullingar in the opening round but they will face opposition of higher quality on Sunday with only one Division separating the sides.
Both sit in mid table in their respective leagues and with dreams of a league triumph gone for another year, the cup is where it’s at. Wicklow will be favourites but North Kildare will have no fear after their giant killing of Dundalk in the opening round and given their home advantage.
Ashbourne RFC v Kilkenny RFC
The meeting of Ashbourne and Kilkenny will be an intriguing battle. Another 1A v 1B meeting, both sides are on the hunt for league success and a cup run is another chance to add to what could be a memorable year for both.
Ashbourne are on the crest of a wave. They recently completed a two in a row All Ireland Junior Cup double while they are also in pole position in Division 1A for league success. They have a strong panel that can manage league and cup runs and you can bet they will want to win as much as they can when they can.
Probably one of the favourites for the cup at this stage, they can ill afford to take their eye of the ball on Sunday when they welcome Kilkenny who make the journey up to County Meath. The Kilkenny men have cup pedigree as well having narrowly lost the 2015 final to Enniscorthy.
They know what it takes to get a run going and they are also riding high in Division 1B. They sit in second place only four points behind leaders Suttonians with three games to play. They got over Boyne in the opening round on a score of 30-24 so they have that cup game under their belt.
Ashbourne got a bye in the opening round but they have the experience of their All Ireland Junior cup run to call on.
Portlaoise RFC v Skerries Second XV
The sides met in the cup last season as well, with the Skerries men taking care of business on route to them making the final. The game will once again be in Portlaoise which will be a help to the home side who have been struggling for league form this season.
Their win over Navan seconds in the opening round would have been a welcome distraction from the league for the Midlanders but the level of opposition will be stepped up a notch on Sunday when Skerries come to town.
The Dublin outfit beat Newbridge 24-19 in the opening round with Eddie O’Mahony starring with a brace of tries.
Portlaoise showed they have plenty of scoring power on their day with a 46-8 demolition of Navan that included John Scully running in four tries.
Cill Dara RFC v Portarlington RFC
This all Division 2A clash will bring plenty of local interest with both clubs in close proximity to each other. A Kildare v Laois clash, it is the Kildare outfit that will go in as favourites. They had a big 50-0 win over Roscrea in the opening round as they scored tries for fun and they come up against a Portarlington side who are rooted to the bottom of Division 2A with no wins from 11 league games to date.
With relegation all but confirmed, they have nothing to lose in the cup and that can be a dangerous trait in a team. When the sides met in the league back in November, Cill Dara won out on a scoreline of 68-5 but a closer encounter is expected on Sunday.
Athy RFC V Gorey RFC
It will be Division 1A v 2B when Athy host Gorey on Sunday with the Athy men hoping for a giant killing to push them into the quarter finals.
Both are having contrasting times in the league with Gorey hoping avoid relegation in 1A and Athy only a point behind 2B leaders Wexford Wanderers. Athy’s priority is to win promotion where as the cup is the only chance Gorey have of success this year.
Gorey had an 18-3 win over Carlow in the opening round. A Fergal Bolger try in the second half eventually put daylight between them.
Athy had to work hard to advance from round one. They faced Tullamore seconds and in a tight and tense match, they came out the right side of an 8-5 scoreline with a Davey O’Toole drop goal in the second half proving the crucial and only score of the second half.
Enniscorthy RFC v Longford RFC
This is another 1A v 1B game as Enniscorthy and Longford, both of whom still have a live chance of winning their respective leagues, lock horns.
Enniscorthy have had a high standard in recent years challenging for and winning the Leinster League division 1A while claiming Towns Cup success back in 2015. They had a big win over Midland Warriors in the opening round but they will have home comforts this time around when they welcome Longford, who sit third in 1B to town.
Longford had a bye in the opening round but they have been going well in the league and can still win it a strong finish to the season.
Enniscorthy will be favourites to advance, especially with home advantage but Longford are a club on the rise having been promoted from 2A last year. It is not a clean cut game and it could be one that goes down to the wire.
Clondalkin RFC v New Ross RFC
With relegation from Division 1B a real concern for Clondalkin, a cup run is exactly what the doctor ordered but in order to advance to the quarter final, they will need to fend off a New Ross side who will be travelling in confidence.
The Wexford men beat Arklow 24-10 in the opening round with four tries notched up in the process. They were at home that day but are now on the road to Dublin to face a Clondalkin side that got the better of Edenderry 25-6 in their opening round game.
Both will fancy their chances and have plenty of try scorers in their ranks. It has the makings of high scoring contest. They may be in different divisions but both are very close to each other in placings. One of the hardest games to call, home advantage will help Clondalkin but New Ross will see this as a golden opportunity.
Tullow RFC v Wexford Wanderers RFC
Reigning champions Tullow would have had high hopes of a good league run on their back of their cup success last year but that didn’t really materialise and they sit fourth with three games to play. They had a tough but encouraging win over Naas seconds in the opening round and they now take on Division 2B high flyers Wexford Wanderers who are leading their title race by a point.
While separated by a few divisions, cup rugby can be off the cuff at times and Wanderers come into the game off the back of a 36-8 win over Balbriggan. They would have loved another home draw but instead they travel to Tullow, making their job even harder.
The full list of games for Round 2 is as follows. First names team is at home and all games kick off at 3pm (unless stated) on Sunday 11th February.
North Kildare RFC V Wicklow RFC
Ashbourne RFC V Kilkenny RFC (2.30pm)
Portlaoise RFC V Skerries RFC
Cill Dara RFC V Portarlington RFC
Athy RFC V Gorey RFC
Enniscorthy RFC V Longford RFC
Clondalkin RFC V New Ross RFC
Tullow RFC V Wexford Wanderers RFC
The draw for the Second Round Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup will take place in North Kildare clubhouse after they take on Wicklow RFC.