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Harlequins need major lift

By Michael Sadlier

Published 05/12/2015

Return: Frank Taggart is back in action for Belfast Harlequins
Return: Frank Taggart is back in action for Belfast Harlequins

It doesn't come much more challenging for Division 1B's bottom side Belfast Harlequins as they reach the halfway stage by hosting leaders St Mary's College on the final weekend in the AIL's upper tiers this side of Christmas.

And not only that but when things reconvene, on the first weekend in January, Quins have to make the return journey to Dublin as all the teams face double-headers with this weekend's opponents.

A chasm of 28 points separates top from bottom which is hardly surprising as Quins have still not managed to win a game after eight attempts and coach Adam Larkin knows that he faces a mammoth task to turn things around this weekend.

Though Quins managed to take two points from last weekend's impressive comeback, but still narrow loss, at a weather-beaten Blackrock College, time is now of the essence to avoid staying bottom and escaping automatic relegation.

"We know the difficulty we face but we've produced in the past and shown that we can take a team down who are top of the table and that is what we are now aiming to do," said Larkin.

Quins have Frank Taggart back on board along with Conor Young while 18-year-old Ulster Academy prop Peter Cooper will also get another runout.

However, Lewis Stevenson is believed to be unavailable while Rory Scholes's Ulster duties keep him away.

If Quins pull off a shock at Deramore they will be doing Ballymena a considerable favour as the Braidmen are just a point adrift of leaders St Mary's.

Andy Graham's squad are at fourth-placed Old Wesley and are without Alan O'Connor and John Andrew as well as Clive Ross though they do have Stephen Mulholland and Dave Shanahan in what is still a notably strong side.

In Division 1A, Ballynahinch's predicament at the foot of the table is beginning to look somewhat unrecoverable as after losing heavily at Galwegians they now trail the ninth-placed Connacht side.

Taking ownership of ninth is now the target for Hinch who entertain seventh-placed Lansdowne in the first of their double-headers either side of Christmas.

"We feel we can still get ourselves out of this with 10 games to go," said Hinch coach Derek Suffern.

"It looks a tall order but we've just got to try and do it."

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