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Leaders Hinch bidding for double over Shannon


By Michael Sadlier

New Division 1B leaders Ballynahinch will not be lacking in belief when they journey to Shannon in the wake of knocking the Limerick side from top spot when they met last Saturday at Ballymacarn Park.

Hinch crossed the Shannon line six times in their thumping 42-15 victory but, this time around, coach Brian McLaughlin will be bringing a substantially altered side to Limerick due to the call of Ulster A for their game in England against Hartpury College.

As many as eight of last weekend's starting side are involved in the British and Irish Cup and, while Shannon will also be suffering, with Hinch losing plenty of vital players, the Co Down side will be digging into their resources for this game.

Having said that, Hinch are still able to put out a pretty decent team, with the experienced Stuart Morrow and assistant coach Tom Rock likely to be the centres, while Rhys O'Donnell and Richard Reaney are at half-back.

Up front, Campbell Classon is retained at prop while Stuart Orr, Keith Dickson and Conall Boomer are all available.

"We'll put out a competitive team, but it's going to be tough," said Hinch director or rugby Ronnie Duncan.

"This is a good enough team and one thing's for sure, they won't lie down, and Brian (McLaughlin) and Tom (Rock) will come up with a game-plan that plays to our strengths," added Duncan.

Third-placed Banbridge make the long haul to Dolphin after just beating the Cork side 26-25 at Rifle Park, and they too will be missing some key personnel with Rob Lyttle, Eric O'Sullivan and Tom O'Toole all being called up to the Ulster A side.

Conor Field comes in for Lyttle in Dan Soper's squad, while Stuart Cromie is added to the front row.

"With the Ulster contingent being not available, it brings a different element to it," admitted Soper.

"But we'll just be looking to improve our own performance and try and beat them again."

Ballymena put the brakes on their miserable run of reverses when they beat Old Belvedere at Eaton Park but, as with Hinch and Bann, it's now their turn to hit the road to meet the same opposition.

Coach Andy Graham will be without Dave Shanahan, Brett Herron, Callum Patterson and Adam McBurney, who have all not been released from Ulster but David Whann, James Taggart, James Boville, Matthew Norris and Alan Smyth are all brought in to start.

Div 1B: Shannon v Hinch, Dolphin v Bann, Old Belvo v Ballymena, Old Wes v Naas, UCC v UL Bohs

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