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Hinch's ambitions boosted by return of classy Cairns


By Michael Sadlier

Ballynahinch need to strike back tomorrow in the wake of last Saturday's deeply disappointing Ulster derby reverse at Banbridge.

Third-placed Hinch intend to get their campaign back on track after failing to even take a losing bonus point from Rifle Park when they host Naas who are in sixth.

And their cause has been hugely boosted by having scrum-half, and key player, Aaron Cairns back in club colours.

Cairns was part of Ulster's starting team for the first time in last Saturday's loss to Leinster and was subsequently omitted from Les Kiss's squad that travelled to South Africa last Monday to take on the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

Hinch also have Ulster lock Peter Browne and he will pack down alongside Jack Regan in the Co Down side's engine room though out-half Johnny McPhillips will be missing from coach Brian McLaughlin's side due to injury.

"We want to win it and we want a performance too," said Hinch director of rugby Ronnie Duncan.

"And if you want to stay in touch at the top we need to win it."

Second-placed Banbridge face another stern examination of their ambitions when they travel to meet leaders Shannon.

Both sides are unbeaten - Bann have drawn one game but Shannon have won all five - and Dan Soper knows his players face a massive game down in Limerick.

"This is probably the most difficult task in the league," he said.

"Playing Shannon at any time is difficult enough but playing them down there will be pretty difficult.

"It's our first time playing them so that adds to the challenge, but these guys have stepped up to every challenge put in front of them," added Soper.

"We'll go down there and set a marker for ourselves."

Bann will be without scrum-half Ian Porter with Josh Cromie coming in and Rob Lyttle will be at full-back.

Ballymena got their season back on track by winning at Naas last time out and now Andy Graham's men need to back that up with a good home result against UCC.

Brett Heron is at 10 again for the seventh-placed Braidmen and Michael Stronge at nine.

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

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