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Duncan is calling on Hinch to turn up the heat in title mission


By Michael Sadlier

The push is very much on for Ballynahinch now that they trail leaders Shannon by a mere point, and the Co Down side can make another major statement of intent when they visit Naas.

Brian McLaughlin's side travel to Co Kildare off the back of an impressive home win over UCC but they are under no illusions that Naas will prove to be formidable opponents even though they are four places behind Hinch in sixth.

Director of Rugby Ronnie Duncan said: "We reckon this is the hardest game we have left and this is going to be another huge test for us.

"We beat them narrowly this season at Ballymacarn and we know that we have to go there and grind out a result."

Selection-wise, Hinch are unlikely to change much from last weekend and while hooker Zack McCall has not been released by Ulster, second row Pete Browne will feature after not being available for the UCC game.

Dan Soper, meanwhile, views Banbridge's hosting of Shannon as a massive occasion for his squad's ambitions to challenge for top spot in the table.

"Our next two games are against the teams above us so it is key we stay in the race," said the Bann coach.

"If we can get the win this weekend we're right in it."

Eric O'Sullivan and Caleb Montgomery are again released by Ulster.

Ballymena stopped the rot with their victory over Shannon last weekend but coach Andy Graham now needs that result backed up at UCC.

The Braidmen, who are in a lowly eighth, hope to have Andy Warwick released to them again while fellow prop Ross Kane will also be making the trip to Cork though Luke Marshall, who played last weekend, is not available.

"There's no point beating the league leaders last week and not backing it up this week," said Graham.

1B: Banbridge v Shannon, Dolphin v Old Wesley, Naas v Hinch, UCC v Ballymena, UL Bohs v Old Belvo.

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