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Unbeaten Armagh out to strengthen title hopes

 

By Ronnie Ingram

Armagh are the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership title holders and the only undefeated team in Division 1 so will be expected to gain five points at the expense of City of Derry at Palace Grounds this afternoon.

They have already opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table and with only three games remaining, their main rivals - Malone, Ballymena, Banbridge and Ballynahinch - know that two of them will be virtually out of contention by this evening.

Banbridge are at home to Ballymena while Hinch, who are a point behind the other three, travel to Malone.

Malone have won their last three outings and will be hoping to maintain momentum before they face Queen's in the AIL next week. Their only defeat in the 10 fixtures of the competition came at home to the students (20-11) so they want revenge and a win over Hinch would boost morale.

Injuries have allowed Ballymena coach Andy Graham the opportunity to try out a few players. James Beattie, who was out for nearly a year with a groin problem, made his comeback in the Kyle Cup and he is on the wing, while John Laughlin is in the centre. Nathan Rankin, who has been studying in the USA for five years, is a natural back-rower will play in the second row.

In Division 2, Queen's head the table and travel to Bangor but their recent form has been disappointing. They were well in contention in AIL 2A but have dropped to fifth place.

In the other fixtures, second-placed Belfast Harlequins are at home to Rainey and bottom of the table Omagh entertain third-placed Dungannon.

Belfast Telegraph

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