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Braidmen and Hinch desperate to revitalise their promotion bids

By Michael Sadlier

These are testing enough times for both Ballymena and Ballynahinch.

Both clubs not only need to start putting some good results together to battle their way back towards reigniting hopes of promotion, but they also need to avoid being dragged into the makings of what could be a stressful rear-guard action against relegation.

Losing last time out will have hurt both clubs and increased their anxiety with just five games to go but the sixth-placed Braidmen will be feeling particularly damaged after being walloped 49-19 on Old Wesley's artificial surface at Donnybrook.

They now know that only a positive outcome will do tomorrow in what is, realistically for them, a chase to make the play-offs with Buccaneers already looking good to finish top.

However, Andy Graham's men face quite the task in getting what they require as they host second-placed UL Bohemians.

"We need to get a win to get ourselves back on track," said coach Graham.

"We are only four away from the top four, so it is still achievable.

"If you look behind you, though, another loss and you get close to the relegation zone. I prefer to be looking forward and trying to climb up the table."

The Braidmen have regulars Mark Best, Dave Shanahan, Stephen Mulholland and Matty Rea all on board while out-half Brett Herron is released again from Ulster, meaning that Richie McMaster is benched.

Fifth-placed Hinch have also quite a summit to scale if they are to get the better of Naas who are in second.

Having lost their last two games, they hardly take decent form to Co Kildare.

While Hinch, too, still have ambitions to break into the top four, the need to secure a safe position is also high on their agenda.

The Co Down side should have John Donnan, Conor Joyce, Craig Trenier and Aaron Cairns while Jonny Murphy and David Busby - who scored a try last Sunday ion his senior Ulster debut at Zebre - could also be in the team.

Div 1B: Ballymena v UL Bohs, Buccs v Dolphin, Galwegians v Old Wesley, Naas v Ballynahinch, Shannon v UCC.

Belfast Telegraph


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