ALL IRELAND LEAGUE: Banbridge coach Dan Soper targets away success

Banbridge's Adam Doherty has returned from injury
Banbridge's Adam Doherty has returned from injury

A single point separates the top three in Division 2A – Cashel lead on 21 points while Banbridge and Malone are locked on 20.

Malone toppled the leaders in Tipperary last weekend while Banbridge enjoyed an 11-0 home victory over Naas which pleased coach Dan Soper.

“We were delighted to keep Naas scoreless. This is my sixth season back at Banbridge and I can’t remember ever keeping anyone scoreless,” he said.

“Even on occasions when we have had a big win against someone they have got a score or a penalty or something.

“To keep a team scoreless is a great effort and they didn’t even get a shot at goal.

“They only got a penalty where they could have got three points right at the end when three points was no good to them.

“I was pretty pleased with that aspect of our game but it wasn’t a perfect performance. There is a lot to work on but if you keep a side scoreless it’s a sign that something is going right.”

With only a third of the season gone the Kiwi isn’t reading too much into the league table.

“It is very unusual in these leagues for anyone to go unbeaten,” he added.

“Someone always drops a game and Malone going down to Cashel and winning was an upset but that is what this league keeps throwing up.

“That’s why if you look at the league table too hard and get carried away with where you are you can lose sight of going and winning the next game of rugby.

“You have to take it one game at a time and you can’t worry about what is happening elsewhere.

“You want to make sure that if results do go your way, that you have your own result taken care of.”

Bann have lost their last two games on the road to late scores and Soper is hoping to rectify that away at fifth placed UCC on Saturday.

He added: “We had a bit of a chat about that on Tuesday night.

“We can do all the talking we want about what has gone wrong but this is an opportunity to see if we can get on the road and get a result.

“Picking up a handful of results on the road will be the difference between being fourth or fifth or first or second so somewhere along the line we have to start winning on the road.

“I think UCC’s team hasn’t had a huge amount of change from last year and I thought they were a very good side.

“We beat them down there last year with a score late in the game and I’d say that will motivate them a bit this weekend.

“They will be a robust and physical side, they will be well conditioned and we will have to stick at the game for 80 minutes.”

Clark McAllister has left Banbridge to pursue a career in Rugby League in England while Nico Vorster is unavailable, Adam Doherty pulled out with a hamstring injury late last week but should to be fit to face the students.

Malone welcome bottom of the table Neagh to Gibson Park as they look to build on their bonus point win over Cashel last week.

Coach Jarrett Truscott makes one change to the starting line up with Philip Eadie returning at tight head prop while Lee Barlow and David Halliday provide the front row cover on the bench.

Queen’s drew 34-34 with UCC and will be hoping to pick up their first victory since the second week of the season as they travel to Cashel, full back Robert Lyttle and prop Jake Byrne should be available.