CIYMS have most to prove against Inst
It is an Instonians v CIYMS double-header this weekend with the Belmont club having home advantage today in the Ulster Premier League before the teams move to Shaw's Bridge tomorrow for the delayed Challenge Cup first round tie. Both games have a high noon start.
And it is the defending league champions who have most to prove, having already lost twice to newly-promoted Lurgan this season – once in the T20 Cup – and know they must beat Instonians if they are not to slip eight points behind the joint league leaders.
At least CI are boosted by the first appearance of the season of Trevor Britton, who joined this year from Brigade, and Steven Clarke, who has missed the first month with a hamstring injury is also expected to make his debut after his move from Bready.
They will be welcome additions but Chris Dougherty, the Ireland A and Northern Knights opener, knows it will be a tough weekend.
"We are looking to kick-start our season. It's been stop-start so far, so we are wanting a couple of big performances. Having lost our first league game, Saturday's game is probably the more important but it's nice to get a cup run going. We won early last season at Shaw's Bridge but they beat us in the league at Belmont," said Dougherty. "If we get off to a good start with the ball we can set ourselves up to chase a decent total and hopefully the batters can follow up because our bowlers have been the strongest. A few lads have to step up and show what we can do."
Just for good measure, the weekend's fixture list has also sent pre-season league favourites Waringstown to the other joint leaders North Down, a week before the teams clash in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.
Here it is Waringstown who will be under pressure not to slip back into the pack after their defeat to Instonians but they know it will be their most difficult game of the season against an unbeaten Comber side .
At the other end of the table, Civil Service North and Lisburn meet at Stormont with both teams looking for their first points of the season while Lurgan and Ballymena clash in a match which could have a long-term impact on their finishing position.
Lisburn and Downpatrick are both in Irish Cup action in Dublin on Sunday, but go into the games as big underdogs at YMCA and Railway Union respectively, while North Down will expect to consolidate their position in the league in yet another home game, against CSNI.