Ballymena face tough test against Dolphin in Division 1B

Ballymena coach Andy Graham
Ballymena coach Andy Graham

Ballymena return to All Ireland league action after a month off needing one point to secure third place in Division 1B as they welcome Dolphin to Eaton Park.

Coach Andy Graham is hoping to build momentum going into the playoffs.

“We’re looking forward to getting out and playing again and we have a few guys back from injury which will help. We’re getting to the business end of the season now and hopefully we’ll be involved in the playoffs unless something disastrous happens and it is exciting times ahead,” said Graham.

“Third place is looking like where we are going to end up so it just depends who comes out of St Mary’s and Trinity as to who we face in the playoffs so we’ll know more after they play each other tonight.

“We need to get ourselves back in the way of going, we have had a lot of injuries and different things and there were just too many changes at times to the team so hopefully we get back to a more settled side now.”

Ballymena won 37-10 when the sides met earlier in the season in Cork, Dolphin are only three points clear of ninth place and arrive at Eaton Park with plenty to play for.

“It will not be easy, they are fighting to get out of that relegation zone and when we went down there we beat them well but the score kind of flattered us, we scored four or five tries in the second half.

“They have a huge pack and a big heavy front row, they try to maul you and give their big ball carries time so we have to bring our physicality to try and stop that and then get tempo into the game and try to stretch them.”

“We play Dolphin then away to Harlequins and we want to try and build so we are in the best possible shape for the playoffs.”

Graham is able to welcome back Ulster hook John Andrew and academy prop Ross Kane back into his front row.

Clive Ross and Dave Shanahan are also released by Ulster.

Belfast Harlequins are already down and they travel to 9th place UL Boh’s while in Division 1A Ballynahinch will be relegated if they don’t win at fourth placed UCD.