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Belfast Harlequins, Ballynahinch need a survival boost

By Michael Sadlier

It's all becoming a bit frayed at the edges for Ballynahinch and Belfast Harlequins who, after six games, are propping up their respective tables in Division 1A and 1B.

Neither have won with Hinch picking up three losing bonus points while Quins have just two of the same so, with both clubs already looking as if they might lose touch with the safety zone of eighth place, their home games this weekend are hugely significant as the battle to salvage their seasons intensifies.

In 1A, Hinch host Terenure - who are three places ahead of them in seventh - but will be without Ruaidhri Murphy, Kyle McCall and Paul Rowley as all three have not been released by Ulster.

Hooker Jonny Murphy is injured so Johnny Simpson and Zac McCall are in to plug the gaps in the front row while the return of experienced flanker Paul Pritchard is a considerable boost for coach Derek Suffern's plans.

"We're in a tricky spot now," Suffern admitted. "We're playing well but only in short bursts and our lack of concentration is costing us dearly. We're making too many silly errors.

"We've got to stay in touch (Young Munster are in eighth and 10 points ahead) and we know we can get out of this as we've done it before. Even so, we're under no illusions to the difficulty of the task we face."

Quins entertain fellow strugglers Shannon and know they really must deliver a victory over the side in eighth place.

Coach Adam Larkin said of the eight-point gap: "We're conscious of the need to stay in touch as things could become very tricky for us.

"This is an opportunity to really have a go at them and we're actually quite confident despite losing at Trinity as our performance there was certainly an improvement on before."

However, Larkin is without Ricky Lutton and Rory Scholes for this key clash as neither have been released by Ulster while he may be missing Mark Best due to illness and Conor Young's ankle injury may also rule him out

Second-placed Ballymena have no such woes as they travel to meet Buccaneers under the lights of Dubarry Park (kick-off 7.30pm).

Coach Andy Graham has Ulster players Alan O'Connor and John Andrew on board.

Belfast Telegraph


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