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Nelson boost for Ballynahinch ahead of crunch Ulster derby tie with Banbridge

 

By Michael Sadlier

With just five games to go before the play-offs, having an Ulster derby in which first plays third promises to be quite an occasion at Ballymacarn Park.

Current leaders Ballynahinch will do battle with Banbridge with neither side comfortable in their league positions and therefore very much in need of the win.

Hosts Hinch are currently just two in front of Shannon - who play tonight - and will not want to take things to the wire again for a repeat of their last-gasp victory at Naas two weekends ago when Richard Reaney's drop goal earned them five points.

For all that drama last time out, Hinch do come into this key clash with some form having won three of their last four and will have a largely unchanged side though Ulster's Peter Nelson has been released to them along with regulars Pete Browne and Zack McCall.

Bann's Ian Porter is not available for this pivotal derby game which sees promising teenage centre James Hume, a three time Schools' Cup winner at RBAI, make his AIL bow for the Rifle Park club.

Meanwhile, struggling Ballymena are at home to Naas and badly need a result to escape their current lowly ninth position.

In 2B, Rainey will be aiming for maximum points against Dungannon, who are in sixth, and have inspirational lock and former Ulster player Tim Barker back with prop and current Ulster squad member Tommy O'Hagan also available.

Doomed-looking City of Derry are at leaders Old Crescent.

Belfast Harlequins travel to Barnhall buoyed by their first victory of the campaign last week against Gannon.

In 2C, a fourth-placed Bangor outfit also have another pivotal game as they welcome the leaders Malahide up to Upritchard Park.

Omagh, in sixth and just a point behind Bangor, are at bottom side Tullamore.

Up in 2A, leaders Malone host Blackrock.

City of Armagh, in fifth, are at Nenagh who are third and Queen's University, in sixth, are at home to ninth-placed Galwegians.

Div 1B: Ballymena v Naas, Hinch v Banbridge, Old Belvo v Dolphin, Old Wesley v UCC

Div 2A: Malone v Rock, Nenagh v Armagh, QUB v Galwegians

Div 2B: Barnhall v Quins, Old Cres v Derry, Rainey v Gannon

Div 2C: Bangor v Malahide, Tullamore v Omagh

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