Tricky test facing Queen’s in Cashel

Queens' Michael McAuley and Harlequins'  Mark Kettyle.
Queens' Michael McAuley and Harlequins' Mark Kettyle.

Queen’s face a tricky trip to Tipperary for a clash with Cashel as they continue their promotion bid from Division 2A.

The students are second four points behind Galwegains but have opened up a four point cushion over third placed Ballymena after last weekend’s results.

Cashel beat Ballymena at Eaton Park last weekend and Queen’s Director of Rugby Robbie Moore is expecting a tough battle.

“I think it could be a case of their forwards against our backs. Cashel have a big strong pack and like to play a ‘pick and go game’ so our defence will have to be up for it but we have been resolute this season,” said Moore.

“I think the weather could dictate but I think we’re good enough in the backs and with Michael McAuley, Stuart McIlwaine and Damon Hall we have options, it’s our first time down there so it’s new territory but we’re looking forward to it.”

Wingers Andrew Butler and Eoin Devlin are both ruled out so Paddy Colhoun and Paddy Farrell are in contention but centre Chris Colvin is injured.

McAuley and McIlwaine will form the midfield partnership, Hall starts at full back with Connor Spence and Ritchie McMaster at half back.

In the pack Andrew Clingan comes in at loose prop in place of Ben Howard, Stuart Hooks is unavailable in the back row so Robert Whitten moves from lock to flanker with Grant Bartley coming into the engine room.

Ryan Clarke and Ulster Raven, Lorcan Dow, complete the back row.

Despite a narrow defeat last Saturday, Ballymena actually moved up a place in the table courtesy of the losing bonus point against Cashel.

Andy Graham’s side travel to Cork to face sixth placed UCC looking to return to winning ways after losing their last two games late on.

Ulster full back Ricky Andrew is ruled out with a shoulder injury and scrum half David O’Hara is unavailable. Darryl Montgomery and Mike McKeever are likely to form the midfield partnership while Ulster Ravens scrum half David Shanahan is available.

Lock David Whann’s return should help the line out while Andrew Warwick and John Andrew will start in the front row. Two consecutive wins have lifted Rainey to seventh in the table and they travel to Donnybrook to play Old Wesley who are a place below them.

Coach Richard Boyd will be forced into a couple of chances as half back Michael Pyper and winger Kyle Moore are unavailable but Damien McMurray returns. Banbridge travel to bottom of the table Bruff buoyed by last week’s impressive win over City of Derry.

Coach Dan Soper has the luxury of being able to field the same starting XV as last week with the only change in the squad being Johnny Little returning to the bench.

Bann have climbed to 11th but are yet to win back to back games this season while Bruff got their first win of the season last week.

City of Derry are fifth although they are level on points with Ballymena and they’ll hope host struggling Highfield at Judge’s Road.