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Armagh vying with Hinch as race for title reaches climax

By Ronnie Ingram

If Armagh defeat Ballymena with a try bonus point, as they did against Ballynahinch 52-14 a fortnight ago, they will become the new SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership champions.

This is a difficult ask, especially at Eaton Park where they have already narrowly defeated their opponents but only by 13-7 in the first round of the Senior Cup in September.

The more likely scenario is that Ballynahinch, who are presently tied with Armagh at the top of the table, will regain the title they lost last season.

Following that recent defeat to their rivals they must now finish above them and will be expected to claim five points at City of Derry.

The Judge's Road team have conceded five points to their opposition in six of their last seven fixtures.

One factor to help Armagh is that Ballymena will be weakened due to their commitments in the Ulster 'A' game against London Scottish in the British and Irish Cup.

Armagh will be strengthened as their captain and flanker Ali Birch returns following the 55-7 win over City of Derry on Saturday.

Ballymena are currently one point in arrears and it is possible that a bonus point win could put them level with Hinch, but the Ballymacarn team would clinch the title as they won their league encounter 31-11 in September - a result that was reversed two months later in the AIL on a 28-18 scoreline.

Banbridge, who are out of contention following their 31-0 defeat at Hinch last Saturday, are at home to Dungannon while in Division 2 Belfast Harlequins entertain Bangor.

Belfast Telegraph

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