Coach upbeat despite Malone's injury crisis
Malone will be without the services of a number of last season's key players when they travel to Banbridge for the first game of the new Senior League programme at Rifle Park this evening (7.30pm).
They will certainly miss Corey Topping (Loughborough), Chris Leathem (Banbridge), last year's captain Glen Moore (Dubai) and especially their main points scorer Josh Pentland who has moved to Bath.
Coach Jacques Benade has had an optimistic start with encouraging displays against Ballymena and Clontarf with the help of a number of new recruits.
Michael Ferguson has joined from Quins and Richard Miller and Philip Eadie from Donaghadee as well as the promising former RBAI centre Nathan Brown.
"The Banbridge game will be a formidable challenge as we are without our Ulster under-19s and 20s but we are gradually strengthening our squad before the start of the AIL," commented Benade.
Bann have brought up Ryan Jamison and Stuart Cromie from their junior ranks to be in the front row while Shandon Scott has returned from Malone at out-half.
Banbridge Academy's Alan Kennedy will be at scrum-half and on the bench will be Matthew Irvine (Malone) and Philip Lunn (Dromore). Former prop Michael Cromie and hooker Jonny Murphy have moved to Hinch.
"We have eight or nine players either injured or unavailable for this game," said coach Daniel Soper.
"It's early days yet but, if we can keep fit, then I feel we will have a more than satisfactory season."
Two second-half tries from Sullivan's speedy winger Angus McCartney helped them to a resounding 27-8 win at Sale.
Ulster led at the interval 6-3 with two penalties from Inst's Robert Lyttle but it was in the second period that they really showed their superiority with an abundance of free flowing rugby. McCartney gathered inside his own '22' and sprinted in for his first which was followed with excellent effort from Wallace full-back Jacob Stockdale.
McCartney then showed his speed and determination again when he ran in from 60 metres out. Lyttle brought his contribution to 12 points with all three conversions before Sale had a consolation try in the last minute.