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Form counts for little in Ulster derby, says Queen’s team boss Chris Moore

All-Ireland League


Graham Curtis of Queen’s

Graham Curtis of Queen’s

Graham Curtis of Queen’s

The Ulster derby between Division 2A leaders Queen’s University and struggling Rainey Old Boys comes already equipped with considerable pre-match tension, so much so that both sides have shown early intent on talking the other up.

The students, who have lost just the once in seven rounds, will turn out at Hatrick Park as the league’s form outfit, while their hosts have managed just two wins and find themselves down in ninth spot.

Still, there is only caution to be found as Derek Suffern’s strong squad — the only likely alteration will see Graham Curtis start and Stuart Martin bench — prepare to visit Magherafelt.

Team manager Chris Moore said: “You never get it easy there.

“It’s always a tough game and you know what you are going to get when you play Rainey, you get a tough abrasive pack that try to push you around up front.

“With Ulster derbies form goes out the window, we may be top and they may be near the bottom but it doesn’t mean anything.”

And now over to Rainey.

Director of rugby Brian Smyth said: “Queen’s are on a different level.

“We expect them to be at pretty much full strength and we’re expecting a tough day at the office even though we are at home.

“If the conditions are very wet we’ll just have to hope for the best and then take it to them up front.”

The hosts will be without centre Connor Fitzsimmons while Andy Magrath may be involved as he continues his comeback from long-term injury.

Also in 2A, third-placed Ballymena are at UL Bohemians where another victory will keep them in sight of Queen’s.

Up in 1A, bottom team Ballynahinch are in Dublin at Terenure College and are still without a win after frustratingly taking Cork Constitution to the wire last weekend.

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Hinch director of rugby Tim Morton recalled: “We should have won against Cork Con.

“It’s pretty frustrating and you have to think that your luck has got to change at some point.

“We just have to get on with it and see what happens.”

Hinch have Reuben Crothers on release from Ulster but are without club player Zack McCall.

In 1B, City of Armagh are at leaders Highfield, where Shea O’Brien and Ross Taylor are in for injured centres Chris Colvin and Matthew Hooks.

Elsewhere, Malone meet Shannon at Gibson Park while bottom club Banbridge are at Old Wesley.

Belfast Harlequins know they have to dig out a result when hosting Wanderers in their 2B clash at Deramore, while Dungannon, who had no AIL game last week, are at Blackrock.

As for 2C, Bangor are at Sundays Well and City of Derry go to Skerries.

Omagh, meanwhile, host Midleton.

Div 1A: Terenure v Ballynahinch. Div 1B: Highfield v City of Armagh, Malone v Shannon, Old Wesley v Banbridge. Div 2A: Rainey Old Boys v Queen’s University, UL Bohemians v Ballymena. Div 2B: Belfast Harlequins v Wanderers, Blackrock v Dungannon. Div 2C: Omagh v Midleton, Skerries v City of Derry, Sundays Well v Bangor.

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