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Harlequins have new belief in survival struggle: Larkin

By Michael Sadlier

With only seven games remaining, time is now of the essence if Belfast Harlequins are going to navigate their way off the bottom of Division 1B.

And while their first win of the campaign against Blackrock College last time out brought renewed hope, the Deramore side still find themselves seven points behind UL Bohemians and 11 adrift of Dolphin, who are clear of the drop zone in seventh.

Realistically, Quins' best hope is overhauling Bohs, which would put them into a play-off for survival but that is predicated on them getting some immediately positive outcomes.

They are at sixth-placed Shannon this weekend - who are 17 points in front of Quins - which will be challenging enough but they also make the trip without Jacob Stockdale, who is with Ireland U20s, and Mark Best who picked up a knock playing for Ulster A last week.

With Frank Taggart also still on the injured list, Quins' only releases from Ulster are Paul Jackson, Conor Young and Conal Boomer for what will be a demanding afternoon for skipper Neil McComb and his fellow players.

Of facing a side who beat them at Deramore earlier this season, coach Adam Larkin said: "We are confident after getting that win over Blackrock.

"We're not looking too far ahead but our real concern is Bohemians. We still have to play them and to get to ninth and into a play-off would be our lifeline."

Ballynahinch are looking to extricate themselves from the foot of 1A and have a crucial game at ninth-placed Terenure College.

Coach Derek Suffern said: "It's critical we win this one.

"They (Terenure) have a game in hand but if we deny them a bonus point and get a straight win then we would be a point behind.

"Lose and it will be a really tall order for us."

Hinch are without Sam Windsor, Peter Browne and John Donnan who are with Ulster. Justin Rea could get a run at out-half with James McBriar out injured.

At the top end of 1B, second-placed Ballymena host Buccaneers, who are in fourth, and Andy Graham's Braidmen will be without David Shanahan along with Clive and Bronson Ross.

This is the first of two pivotal weekends for Ballymena's title ambitions as they meet leaders St Mary's College - currently just two points ahead - after this week.

Belfast Telegraph


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