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Leaders Malone are fuelled by a desire to avenge their sole defeat against Students

 

By Michael Sadlier

Malone's gaze is firmly fixed on a revenge mission when they travel the short distance to Queen's University as a full programme of mostly AIL derbies kicks off the New Year.

Malone are still setting the pace in Division 2A, though they are only one point in front of Highfield, and the only defeat they have suffered so far in the 10 games played to date happened when the Students came to Gibson Park in November.

Coach Paddy Armstrong will be without key forwards Mattie Dalton and Joe Dunleavy, who are both sidelined, while Jack Owens along with Peter Cooper are in the starting side.

Queen's - who are in fifth - have forwards Dave Whitten, Marc Campbell, skipper Nigel Simpson and Alexander Clarke all back on board while scrum-half Jonny Stewart is required by Ulster.

Fourth-placed City of Armagh are the only Ulster club not involved in a derby and make the lengthy journey to second-placed Highfield with the Palace Grounds side heading south after annihilating City of Derry 82-0 in the Ulster League.

In 2B, sixth-placed Dungannon host Belfast Harlequins, who are down in ninth and still winless, while Rainey Old Boys, who are in second, host struggling City of Derry, who are stuck to the bottom and had five points deducted for failing to field against Dungannon last time out.

Omagh, who are third in 2C, travel for their derby game to Bangor and the Tyrone side will go to Upritchard Park knowing this will be quite a contest after the sides played out a 6-6 draw when they met at Thomas Mellon Playing Fields.

Accies coach Phil Marshall said: "This is a massive challenge for us.

"Along with Sligo, they (Bangor) are the biggest pack we have faced but we need to play our rugby and pick up points as we can't afford to slip."

Division 2A fixtures: Nenagh v Cashel, Corinthians v Galwegians, Greystones v Rock, Highfield v Armagh, QUB v Malone.

Div 2B: Old Crescent v Sundays Well, Navan v Skerries, Barnhall v Wanderers, Dungannon v Quins, Rainey v Derry.

Div 2C: Bangor v Omagh, Malahide v Midleton, Seapoint v Bective, Tullamore v Sligo.

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