Whitehead out to show Bangor they can retain coveted crown
Something must give at Islandmagee Road today when NIBA Division One title holders Whitehead go head-to-head with their biggest rivals Bangor in an early season blockbuster.
Both sides have made an impressive start to the new campaign though Bangor certainly have a bit of catching up to do because they have been playing second best for the past four seasons and this game could well be a genuine pointer on which way the pendulum could swing come the end of the term.
"It's a massive game for both teams, even though it's so early in the season," said Bangor's Robert Hastings. "We didn't get a game last weekend, but the team played particularly well in midweek to pick up full points at home to Dundonald.
"But we know this will be an even bigger test. Whitehead have been the benchmark for the past few seasons, so hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves.
"Unfortunately we are missing Thomas Canavan, who is on holiday, but it will open the door for someone else."
Whitehead must also reshape their team due to the unavailability of Barry Browne and Keith Walker. Dessie Hill and Ryan McKeown are added to the squad.
"It's always a special game when we play Bangor," said Whitehead's Stephen Moran. "I'm sure they'll be coming to make a statement because we are the title holders. But we are at home, so it's important to take every advantage possible."
There is also a battle of the giants in the Private Greens League Division One with Ballymena rolling out the welcome mat for Belmont.
The Sky Blues will be missing Neal Garrett, but Jimmy Hodges is drafted in as a replacement.
Belmont will be without Norman Thompson, but are looking forward to the challenge.
"It's difficult to assess teams at this stage of the season," said Belmont's Davy Hamilton.
"Ballymena are notoriously difficult to beat on their home green, but we'll go up there and give it a go."
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Balmoral v Dundonald, Sydenham v Londonderry Park, Lurgan v Banbridge, Donaghadee v Portadown, Whitehead v Bangor.
Northern Ireland Private Greens League Division One: Pickie v Larne, Ballymena A v Belmont, Ewarts v Ballymena B, Falls v Dunbarton, Old Bleach v Salisbury.
Northern Ireland Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Limavady v Ballymoney, Cookstown v Dunluce, Letterkenny v Portrush.