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Braidmen in the mood to take over at the top of table

By Michael Sadlier

Published 08/01/2016

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 29th November 2014
First Trust Bank Senior Cup
Ballymena RFC v Malone RFC at Eaton Park, Ballymena
Mandatory credit - Pic by John McIwaine-Press Eye
Ballymena Head Coach Andy Graham
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 29th November 2014 First Trust Bank Senior Cup Ballymena RFC v Malone RFC at Eaton Park, Ballymena Mandatory credit - Pic by John McIwaine-Press Eye Ballymena Head Coach Andy Graham

After last weekend's 48-0 annihilation of Old Wesley, Ballymena are in the mood to rack up another victory as they go to Limerick to face struggling UL Bohemians.

With the Braidmen only two adrift of leaders St Mary's College, there is much to be gained from racking up a 10th win from 11 games, though coach Andy Graham will be determined to dispel any potential complacency from the squad after last weekend's seven-try romp.

Graham has made two changes from the Wesley win with prop Ross Kane in for the unavailable Bronson Ross and John Creighton is at scrum-half for the injured Dave Shanahan.

Creighton teams up with out-half Andrew Magrath while Ulster squad member Clive Ross is again togging out though there was some confusion over the venue due to unplayable pitches with the possibility of a late kick-off on the University of Limerick's 3G pitch still an option.

"We played very well (against Old Wesley)," said Graham, "but there are no easy games, even if it is top against bottom."

Eight places below Ballymena, Belfast Harlequins are still rooted to the foot of the pile where the Deramore side have just four points and have lost all 10 games so far. Quins now have to begin to turn things around if they are to have any prospect of staying in 1B next season.

Tomorrow, the Belfast side are at home to Blackrock College, who are four places above them, in this must-win meeting and should be encouraged by their narrow defeat in Dublin in November's corresponding fixture.

Adam Larkin's squad have Jacob Stockdale, Conor Young, Paul Jackson and Mark Best all released from Ulster but face a mammoth task as they are currently 16 points away from safety.

It's a huge weekend for Division 1A's bottom side Ballynahinch in their continuing bid to wriggle free from automatic relegation.

The Co Down side play host to fellow strugglers Galwegians with the Connacht squad sitting just inside the safe zone in eighth, albeit a rather sizeable 11 points in front of Hinch and with a game in hand.

Though Hinch lost last week's return encounter with Lansdowne - their only win this season came against the Dubliners in the first of their back-to-back games - they did earn a losing bonus point after a spirited 29-24 comeback.

However, beating Galwegians is an absolute must for Derek Suffern's squad if they are to stage a great escape with ninth-placed Terenure nine points in front and also with a game in hand.

Belfast Telegraph

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