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Carrick start favourites in clash of the top two

By Ronnie Ingram

The most intriguing tie in the first round of the Forster Cup is the meeting of Carrickfergus IIIs and Ballymena IVs as the pair have opened up a gap at the top of Junior Five.

Carrick have a two point advantage with a game in hand and have the psychological advantage of a 21-12 win in mid October.

"This is a massive game for us and we know it will be tough, especially at Carrick," commented Ballymena manager Alan Reynolds.

"The dream would be for our IVs and Vs to meet in the final," he added.

Ballymena Vs won the trophy last season at the expense of Armagh IIIs, by 19-15, and they start their defence with what should be a victory over Banbridge IVs.

Forster Cup draw: Armagh III v Holywood II, Ballyclare IV v Ards III, Ballymena V v Banbridge IV, Ballymoney III v Ballymoney IV, Carrickfergus III v Ballymena IV, Coleraine III v Portadown IV, Cooke III v CIYMS III, Dromore III v Academy II, Lurgan II v Randalstown II, Portadown III v Dungannon IV. Byes: Donaghadee II, Lisburn III, Grosvenor III, Monaghan II, Instonians III, UUC II.

* Forwards Stuart Hodgen and Jordan Taylor scored five tries between them as Portadown College qualified for the Danske Bank Medallion Shield third round after a 50-0 win over a gallant Ashfield side.

They were 24 points in front by the interval with tries from Hodgen (2), Daniel Smith and Taylor for Matthew Winter to convert two. Hodgen, Taylor, Stephen Woods and Ryan Daly added further tries for Winter to goal three.

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