Belfast Telegraph

Braidmen must hold nerve in race for promotion place

With the finish line getting ever closer, there is an edginess creeping into things now with even Ballymena feeling the pinch when it comes to their promotion hopes.

The Braidmen sit second in 1B and host leaders St Mary's College in one of those must-win scenarios if the Eaton Park side want to keep the pressure up on the Dubliners - who are five points ahead - while also staving off the encroachment of nearest rivals Dublin University who are just one behind.

After losing at home to Buccaneers last weekend, Ballymena coach Andy Graham (pictured) needs his squad to put that defeat behind them in this huge meeting with St Mary's.

Ulster prop Andy Warwick has been released to play, as has scrum-half Dave Shanahan, but the pack, though, will again be without John Andrew Bronson and Clive Ross who are with Ulster.

"It's the big one," admitted Graham.

"If we can win it keeps ourselves right in that race for first spot but lose and it becomes very difficult."

At the bottom of 1B, Belfast Harlequins have had a week to lick their wounds after being hammered 40-0 at Shannon and now face the daunting-looking task of taking on Dublin University at Deramore.

In 1A, meanwhile, basement side Ballynahinch host Cork Constitution buoyed by winning at Terenure last week, which has brought the Co Down side to just one point behind the ninth-placed Dubliners who, admittedly, have a game in hand.

This week, Hinch are boosted by the return of Sam Windsor and Lorcan Dow as well as David Busby.

Belfast Telegraph

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From Belfast Telegraph