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Cool Ballymena are on a mission to seal a high five

By Michael Sadlier

Published 17/10/2015

On the ball: Ballymena coach Andy Graham is concentrated
On the ball: Ballymena coach Andy Graham is concentrated

All three Ulster clubs find themselves at home today with Ballymena very much leading the charge as they aim to continue their early eye-catching form in Division 1B.

The Braidmen welcome Blackrock College to Eaton Park as Andy Graham's in-form squad go in search of their fifth win from five games.

Ballymena, in second and just a point behind leaders Old Wesley, will have Mattie Rea in the second row as Ulster squad member Alan O'Connor is out injured and, with Dave Shanahan on Ulster duty, John Creighton starts at scrum-half with Ritchie McMaster outside him.

Graham said: "We didn't play them (Blackrock) last year so they are a bit of an unknown.

"They have beaten Trinity and are not to be taken lightly and we need to focus on our game and improve in some areas."

The outlook isn't quite so rosy for Belfast Harlequins, who have lost all four of their league clashes and are looking vulnerable.

They host Dolphin - and have Ricky Lutton, Frank Taggart, Conor Young and Mark Best all on duty - knowing that only a massive improvement on their poor showing against Buccaneers two weeks ago will result in them escaping their current predicament.

Up in Division 1A, the need for Ballynahinch to register a win is becoming a pressing concern with Derek Suffern's squad having fallen to four straight losses.

And though booking a place in the Ulster Senior Cup semi-finals was welcome, the need to revive the AIL campaign is imperative.

Hinch find themselves sitting bottom of the pile and know that the time is now to manage a first victory in the campaign, especially with Young Munster coming up to Ballymacarn Park one place and three points ahead.

Hinch have Ruaidhri Murphy and Kyle McCall back again in their front row with Lorcan Dow and Conor Joyce making up two-thirds of their strong-looking back row.

Ulster squad member Paul Rowley links up with Richard Reaney at half-back while Hinch also have plenty of power in their backline with Willie Stewart in midfield and the experienced Stuart Morrow on the wing.

Belfast Telegraph

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