The form line in the Bank of Ireland U-17 Shane Horgan Cup points to South East assuming the role of favourites ahead of the round three double-header at Energia Park tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, 28 October).

South East have already stitched back-to-back wins together against Metro (37-19) and Midlands (24-5) in Rounds One and Two, respectively.

Flanker Jack Doyle and full-back Shane Duffy chipped in with a brace each as South East posted seven tries against Metro.

Last time out, South East were given a solid challenge by Midlands. They had the answers in their main leaders Fionn Hickey at No 8 and Cillian Moore at centre.

A pillar of their game has been how they have thrived on the defensive side of the ball, improving from the first to second games.

They will look for the same lift in standards against North East, the only other unbeaten team in the competition, using a first-round bye to prepare for Metro.

There should be an interesting tussle between the No 8s as Lincoln de Year is a physical defender with a huge appetite for work.

Out-half Paddy Kelly is a fine footballer, capable of putting runners into space, none more regularly than wings Lochlainn Harris and Oisin Hegarty in the 17-5 win over Metro.

The curtain raiser sees Metro looking for their first win at the third time of asking against North Midlands.

In truth, there was a considerable improvement made from the defeats to South East and North East, the defence tightening up.

Loose forwards Dylan Hewitt and Ethan Farrell stepped to the plate to knock down runners in behind a front-five that kept on battling, props Gordon Tracey and Daniel Colgan taking the eye in the trenches.

It is in attack they need to show the greatest progression with half-backs Will Saunders and Conor Horan well capable of showing the way.

North Midlands have had to wait too long to deal with their disappointing 17-5 loss to Midlands in round one, having a bye in the second round.

It will be interesting to see whether NM will overhaul its game plan or tinker around the edges.

In fact, they started out really well against Midlands without having the finishing to match sound approach play.

Half-backs Max Gaynor and James Harris showed glimpses of what they could do, despite spending too much time on the backfoot.

Round Three Fixtures (Thursday, 28 October):

Metro v North Midlands – Energia Park (KO 2.30pm)

South East v North East – Energia Park (KO 4pm)

Metro – Mark Cleary (MU Barnhall RFC); Conor Toomey (Clontarf FC), Luke Ingle (Suttonians RFC), Edgarus Kucinkas (MU Barnhall RFC), Adam Gray (MU Barnhall RFC); Will Saunders (DLSP FC), Conor Horan (Suttonians RFC); Gordon Tracey (St Mary’s College RFC), Sean Kearney (MU Barnhall RFC), Daniel Colgan (Coolmine RFC); Hugh Donegan (MU Barnhall RFC), Guilherme Neto (Clontarf FC); Dylan Hewitt (MU Barnhall RFC), Ethan Fennell (MU Barnhall RFC), Shane Moore (Coolmine RFC).

Replacements: Shane Stokes (DLSP FC), Hugh Dummer (Suttonians RFC), Ruaidhri Smith (MU Barnhall RFC), Oscar Webber (Wanderers FC), Cathal Mac Gearailt (Wanderers FC), Gavin Keane (MU Barnhall RFC).

North Midlands – Jake Darcy (Portlaoise RFC); PJ Larkin (Portlaoise RFC), Sean Tighe (Clane RFC), James Harris (Athy RFC) John Murray (Naas RFC); Lochlann Cawley (Naas RFC), Dylan Kelly (Portlaoise RFC); Oisin Bannon (Cill Dara RFC), David Moore (North Kildare RFC), Jamie Baldwin (Portlaoise RFC); Eanna Duffy (Naas RFC), Nathan Yap (Clane RFC); Padraic Cullen (Naas RFC), Jude Kehoe (Naas RFC), James Walsh (Athy RFC).

Replacements: Dylan O’Sullivan (Clondalkin RFC), Killian McHugh (Portarlington RFC), Jake Andrews (Portlaoise RFC), Ruairi Scully (Athy RFC), Sean Lavin (North Kildare RFC), Max Gaynor (Newbridge RFC), James Corcoran (Athy RFC), Glenn Carter (North Kildare RFC).

South East – Shane Duffy (Tullow RFC); Daniel Furlong (Wexford Wanderers RFC), James Hughes (Kilkenny RFC), Conor Fahy (Wexford Wanderers RFC), Adam Ralph (Wicklow RFC); Peter Burgess (Tullow RFC), Noah Cope (County Carlow FC); Gavin O’Connor (Enniscorthy RFC), Donal Kealy (Kilkenny RFC), Sam Turner (Wexford Wanderers RFC); Tom Stokes (Gorey RFC), Alex O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC); Cian Cashman (County Carlow FC), Sean Dunne (Kilkenny RFC), Tadhg Ronan (County Carlow FC).

Replacements: Jack Doyle (County Carlow FC), Cillian Moore (County Carlow FC), Ruaidhri Galwey (Kilkenny RFC), Neil Byrne (Gorey RFC), Jack Noble (Wicklow RFC), Brian Broderick (County Carlow FC).

North East – Alex Hermitage (Boyne RFC); Dan Holmes (Boyne RFC), Tim Deering (Skerries RFC), Luke Carley (Boyne RFC), Lochlainn Harris (Boyne RFC); Tadgh Duff (Boyne RFC), Jamie Byrne (Boyne RFC); Oisin McNamara (Balbriggan RFC), Morgan O’Reilly (Boyne RFC), Jude Woods (Boyne RFC); Mahon Ronan (Boyne RFC), Enda O’Brien (Ashbourne RFC); Oisin Cunningham (Ratoath RFC), Sean Price (Skerries RFC), Lincoln De Year (Boyne RFC).

Replacements: James Canning (Dundalk RFC), Cathal Halpenny (Ashbourne RFC), Orama Daurezini (Boyne RFC), Sean Lambe (Ashbourne RFC), Karl Hartfiel (Balbriggan RFC), Oisin Hegarty (Skerries RFC), Paddy Kelly (Skerries RFC).