Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Ulster Senior League: Ballynahinch and Derry ready to leapfrog Dungannon

Ballynahinch and City of Derry have the chance to go top of the First Trust Senior League this weekend.

Dungannon are out in front following their 38-5 six-try victory over Belfast Harlequins at the weekend but are in AIL Senior Cup action against Corinthians this Saturday, so Ballynahinch and City of Derry have the opportunity to overtake them.

The County Tyrone team have played an extra game and have 31 points, one point more than Ballynahinch and two ahead of Derry.

The most intriguing game of the day is at Ballynahinch where Malone are the visitors. This was scheduled for December to avoid the teams meeting twice in two weeks but the fixture was postponed. The Branch Committee has insisted that it be played on Saturday which means that they face each other again in the AIL at Gibson Park next weekend.

Hinch will be without their Ulster contingent but will still have a strong team in action.

Malone, badly hit by injuries all season, will be hoping to have Kenny Calladine back.

Malone have only one Senior League victory and are going through a lean spell having lost their last six outings so Hinch should have few problems taking the points to give themselves a boost for next week's more important contest.

Another interesting fixture sees Ballymena meet City of Derry.

Derry, like Ballynahinch, are still undefeated in the competition but lost to Seapoint 9-6 in their last AIL outing whereas Ballymena were much too strong for Malone, easily winning 19-0.

Ballymena's Peter McKenzie knows that they are virtually out of the running with two defeats but said: “We will still give them a tough game. We need to keep up our momentum after the Malone game before the restart of the AIL but realise that Derry will have the same goals.”

The Eaton Park team make no changes. Out-half Richard McCarter, who had such a major influence on Derry regaining their AIL place, will be on the bench after being on the sidelines with a shoulder injury since September.

Ards will be missing Keith McIlwaine and Stephen Minnis for the visit of Queen's to Hamilton Park.

Tony Brown, called into the squad last week, will be in the second row while David Calvert plays at No 6 and Kenny McCombe goes to No 8.

Mark Robinson of Queen’s has elbow problems while Michael Ferguson has a 50-50 chance of playing.

Michael Shannon is a doubt, while James Reekie should return to the backs.

Banbridge and Instonians clash at Rifle Park. Inst's David Whitten will be turning out for the Ravens, while Bann out-half Robin Thompson is on holiday so Andrew Morrison moves to that position for James Andrews to play in the centre.

Simon McKinstry has a shoulder injury so Colin Bickerstaff is in the second row and Johnny Gibson at No 8.

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