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Injuries hit Queen's ahead of Braid visit

By Ciaran Donaghy

Third placed Queen's host second placed Ballymena in the match of the day at the Dub (2pm) with both sides needing to win.

The Braidmen hope to keep the pressure on leaders Belfast Harlequins while the students are eyeing a top four finish and qualification for the All Ireland Cup. However Queen's have a crippling injury list but Director of Rugby Robbie Moore wants his boys to give it a go.

"We have serious injuries which are hard to over come. It would be very nice to finish in the top four as we have not achieved that for a number of years," he said. "We'll struggle in the pack as Ballymena will be strong there but I think next week's game against Ballynahinch will be the crunch and will decide who finishes fourth. We won't be favourites but if we get most of our boys back we'll make a match out of it."

Queen's are missing four key members of their pack with captain Timmy Smith, prop Michael Ferguson, hooker Richard Morton and second row Jamie Cornett side lined due to injury.

Mark Connuaghty comes into the back row while Peter Keown makes his debut at hooker.

Michael Johnston continues in the back row but out half Oliver Goss is unavailable.

Ballymena will have no Ulster contracted players for the match but do have four ex Queen's players in the pack.

Both props Chris Allen and Simon Shaw learned their trade at the Dub, lock Bob Young and loose forward Glen Moore have skippered the students in recent years. The Braid men are hoping hooker Steven Douglas is available while Adam Couples gets a chance in the back row. Behind the pack David Drake and Chris Smith form the half back partnership. James Topping continues in the centre with Dirkie Strydom at full back.

Instonians can heap more misery on beleaguered Harlequins at Shaw's Bridge. Quins have won all eight of their Senior League games but have lost all seven in the All Ireland League and currently prop up Division One.

Free scoring Ballynahinch will hope to maintain their AIL form as they travel to Chambers Park to face bottom of the table Portadown. Centre Stuart Megaw and flanker Willie Faloon are rested after playing for Ulster A in their victory over Leinster A on Tuesday night.

Ards and Rainey meet again at Hamilton Park after a hard fought 23-23 last week in the AIL, and both sides are set to rest and rotate to give squad members a chance.

Malone host Banbridge at Gibson Park and hope to have Mark McCrea and Richard Fegan back after injury. Half back pair Richard Fegan and Thomas Horner are close to fitness but it's unlikely they will be risked.

Dungannon's game with City of Derry at Stevenson Park has been cancelled and will be rearranged for a later date.

Belfast Telegraph


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