Table-toppers line out for derby date
For a club who were widely tipped to be facing a traumatic season, Malone have certainly trashed any such notion and now sit top of the pile going into this weekend's Ulster derby clash with Queen's University at Gibson Park.
Their new coaching ticket of Jarrett Truscott and Paddy Armstrong have clearly made their presence felt in the wake of last season's seemingly ruinous exit from Division 1B and the intention is to just keep pushing on with the fifth-placed students their next opponents.
After resting several front-liners for last weekend's Senior League game in Derry, Truscott has brought Richard Millar, Corey Tipping and skipper Neil Alcorn back to bolster the pack while Shane Kelly starts at scrum-half with Josh Pentland in at out-half and swapping the number 15 jersey with Mark O'Connor.
Having former students' coach Armstrong on board is bound to add further value for Malone who will doubtless seek to take ownership of the game up front.
As for Queen's, they have Alex Thompson, Rob Lyttle and Jonny McPhillips on board but fellow Academy player Nick Timoney is away with the Ireland Sevens.
Second-placed Banbridge face a huge clash when they host Cashel, who are in third, and will be very eager to win again after losing out narrowly at UCC in the last round of games.
In 2B, leaders City of Derry are at bottom side Seapoint and should get what then need there.
Fifth-placed Armagh are at Sundays Well who are one place in front of them, while Rainey, who are in sixth, host Highfield. Struggling Dungannon are at Bective.