Ballymena seek vital points in derby clash with Ballynahinch

Ballymena's Scott Gibson
Ballymena's Scott Gibson

THE situation has not quite reached desperation point, but Ballymena need to break their duck in this season’s AIL Division 1B campaign sooner rather than later.

John Andrews’ side have picked up two losing bonus points from their five games to date this season and currently prop up the table.

Losing 16-11 to Belfast Harlequins last week, Ballymena certainly looked a side which was better than their placing would suggest and Andrews, who saw an improved performance, said it was just a matter of getting that one win which would lift the confidence and turn the season.

However, with their Ulster contracted players missing due to the PRO12 game on Sunday, the Braidmen start as underdogs even with home advantage when they face the league leaders, Ballynahinch, who are yet to lose a game, at Eaton Park on Saturday

Andrews said: “It is probably not the best game to have at this stage, but then again if you want to win leagues you have to beat those above you.”

Ballynahinch, who have arguably the strongest squad in Ireland in the division this season are not being complacent about the task ahead.

Elsewhere, in Division 1B, Malone will look to get back to winning ways after suffered a second defeat of the season in their last game when they entertain Buccaneers. Dungannon, too will look to give themselves a lift in what is a crucial bottom end of the table clash against Blackrock College.

Belfast Harlequins, who have won three on the bounce, will get a real test of their title credentials in Munster, when they take on Bruff.

They do have Ulster players Adam D’Arcy and Niall Annett released, but they are missing Michael Heaney and Stuart Olding who started at halfbacks last week and that could be pivotal in the end result.

In Division 2A, Banbridge aim to preserve their unbeaten run when the leaders take on Cashel, in what could probably be their biggest test of the season to date, while City of Derry go to Terenure College for what could be a tricky enough encounter.

Queen’s University are still searching for their first success and are on the road again when they meet Highfield

In Division 2B, Rainey and Armagh are both unbeaten this season, but on their travels today would be expected to win at Connemara and Skerries respectively.

Instonians face Nenagh Ormond at home, while Ards have a crucial bottom end encounter at Sligo.