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Banbridge debut awaits for Schools' Cup hero Lowry

 

By Michael Sadlier

After racking up the miles on the opening weekend, all three Ulster clubs get the chance to play host with Banbridge and Ballymena aiming to rack up successive victories while Ballynahinch go in search of that first win.

For Bann it's about entertaining UCC at Rifle Park and coach Dan Soper has notably handed Ulster Academy player Michael Lowry his club debut at out-half.

The three-time Schools' Cup winner with RBAI is well known to Inst coach Soper and the Kiwi reckons the teenager will go well.

"I'm quite excited about seeing him step into senior rugby having worked with him so closely over the last three or four years," said Soper, who may also have the services of Rob Lyttle depending on his game-time off Ulster's bench tonight.

After beating UL Bohemians in Limerick last weekend with a last-gasp score, Soper knows that his squad will have to be more clinical against the Cork students.

Ballymena welcome Dolphin to Eaton Park and coach Andy Graham has Callum Patterson and Adam McBurney on Ulster release, while Brett Herron and Dave Shanahan could be with him though this is also dependent on Ulster game-time.

"We'll take a bit of confidence from last week (winning at Old Wesley) and try to build on it," said Graham.

"We need to improve our attack and build on our kicking game as there is lots of room for improvement," he added.

Hinch lost out 13-6 at Old Belvedere in a game that Brian McLaughlin's men could have won had they possessed more accuracy and composure.

Still, the Co Down side still managed to come away with a losing bonus point and will host Old Wesley in reasonably confident mood that the rustiness will have been ironed out.

Selection-wise, Hinch should be largely unchanged with Ulster player Pete Browne again in a strong engine room, while Jonny 'Mo' Simpson should again add much to the front row.

One expected alteration to Hinch's starting side should see out-half and Ulster squad member Johnny McPhillips coming in instead of Tim Crossens.

Ulster Academy player Aaron Hall is available again to Hinch after the back-rower was with Ireland U20s last weekend.

"We'll be looking for a win now as last Saturday could have been a very good away win," said Hinch director of rugby Ronnie Duncan.

1B: Ballymena v Dolphin, Ballynahinch v Old Wesley, Banbridge v UCC, Naas v UL Bohemians, Shannon v Old Belvedere

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