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Malone boosted by Joyce availability

By Michael Sadlier

As if Malone had not already overcome one of the most difficult assignments that could have come their way when they became the first side to down Ballymena last weekend, they now find themselves facing league leaders Galwegians today.

But as they go in search of their third successive win, Jacques Benade's squad are buoyed by the current form they have shown along with the presence of now available Ulster squad members Connor Joyce and Bronson Ross who are back to add their bulk to a pack which will be missing Richard Millar and James McAlister, who both suffered injuries after a clash of heads at Ballymena.

Millar may be out for up to three months while McAlister, who suffered concussion, should return after several weeks of the usual protocols. Joyce comes in for McAlister, who played number eight last week, while either Andrew Black or Ben Alexander will start instead of Millar.

As for second-placed Ballymena, they are at Garryowen and will be keen to atone for last week's shock defeat.

The Braidmen have Michael McComish released from Ulster and Stephen Mulholland moves to the flank to accommodate him. Elsewhere, Aidy Kirkpatrick is back at loose-head prop and Mark Foster comes into the second row while, in the backs, Timmy Small is at out-half with Ritchie McMaster benching.

Down at the other end of the table, Belfast Harlequins are also racking up the miles as they travel to fellow strugglers Corinthians.

Ulster have released Richard Lutton for club duty as Adam Larkin's side now need to focus on securing what would be only their third win.

In Division 1A, Ballynahinch are looking to get back to winning form when they host bottom and winless side Dolphin.

"This is a targeted game for us as we have always aimed to win our home games. They are physical but we'll be able to hopefully handle that this week," Hinch coach Derek Suffern said.

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