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Ballynahinch still in search of elusive first victory

Michael Sadlier

For all the admiration that has been coming Ballynahinch's way, courtesy of some notably battling performances, there is no hiding now from the fact that, after five straight defeats, things need to change and fast.

Hinch certainly put it up to Old Belvedere two weeks ago before losing 30-26, but now they need to deliver their first win of their first Division 1A campaign when basement team Garryowen – who are also without a win and a mere two points behind one from bottom Hinch – arrive at Ballymacarn Park.

And Hinch coach Derek Suffern wasn't in the mood to mince his words ahead of tomorrow's challenge as his injury-ravaged squad attempt to get their AIL season back on track.

"We just have to win and we need to beat the side below us," Suffern said. "Otherwise, it's backs to the wall time already for us."

Their cause has hardly been assisted by a spiralling injury list which includes Ulster prop Paddy McCallister as well as second row John Donnan. Indeed, finding fit second rows is proving quite problematic at the moment with John Madden also on the missing list.

Things are so severe that Suffern reckons he has used 36 players over the course of Hinch's five AIL outings and he is sure this total is about to climb a bit further.

Suffern is hoping Harry McAleese will again give Hinch good guidance at out-half where he should link up with Aaron Cairns while the hope is that Robin Harte will be fit enough to tog out in the backline.

In Division 1B, fifth-placed Belfast Harlequins go in search of their third win on the bounce when they host bottom side Dublin University.

Ulster squad member Neil McComb should be available for coach Adam Larkin who is likely to select something close to the same side which battled back to see off Malone two weeks ago.

As for Malone, they are urgently seeking to avoid a fifth straight defeat when fellow strugglers Blackrock College provide the opposition at Gibson Park.

Ulster back row Mike McComish has been released while fit-again second row Michael Ferguson brings extra ballast to a pack which will be missing Alan O'Connor until the New Year.

Dungannon will be seeking to back up their bonus point win at Blackrock with something similar at Buccaneers (kick-off 7.30) and they have Ulster's Adam Macklin lined up to make his first start for the club.

Belfast Telegraph


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