Ballymena coach Andy Graham determined to build on derby success

Harlequins'   Mark Glover leaves Ballymena's Roger McBurney in his wake
Harlequins' Mark Glover leaves Ballymena's Roger McBurney in his wake

Coach Andy Graham was delighted with Ballymena’s hard-fought derby win on the opening day at home to Belfast Quins.

The Braidmen edged the game by four points against their Ulster rivals and now travel to Irish Independent Park for a clash with Dolphin (1pm).

“It was a tough game and could have gone either way, the difference was we kicked our points. Both sides scored three tries.

“Quins are a strong side and were boosted by their Ulster players but we defended well,” said Graham.

“It was great to get the win. It was a home game, an Ulster derby and the win against a good side sets us up.”

Dolphin suffered a heavy 46-10 defeat at St Mary’s but Graham knows they will be a different proposition in Cork.

“St Mary’s are a good team, they came down last year and will be strong so it is hard to know where Dolphin are at,” added Graham.

“It is not a game to be taken lightly and we’ll be treating it as a big game. We’ll have to get up for it the same as we did for Quins.

“It will be huge battle up front and the last time we went down there I was playing and we had Chris Henry in the back row so they are unknown.”

There are two changes in the front row from the side that beat Quins.

Ulster’s Bronson Ross has not been released so Ross Kane starts at tight prop.

James Taggart is unavailable and Adam McBurney is with the Ulster U20’s so former Ireland prop Bryan Young starts at hooker.

Alan O’Connor starts in the second row and Graham may switch Connor Smyth and David Whann.

Behind the pack there is one change as Marty Irwin is unavailable so Glen Bailie partners Callum Patterson in midfield.

John Creighton and Ritchie McMaster continue at half back, Rodger McBurney is at full back with Jordan Foster and James Beattie on the wing.

Quins will look to bounce back from their opening day defeat at home to UL Bohemians (1.30pm).­

Loose forward Sean Reidy and lock Lewis Stevenson have not been released.

Hooker Paul Jackson and back row Frank Taggart are available.

Connor Young starts at scrum-half while Mark Best is in the centre.

Bohs started with a 33-5 home defeat against Old Wesley.

In Division 1A Hinch picked up a point in defeat at Garryowen and coach Derek Suffern is hoping they can carry over their good form from last season into the clash with UCD at Ballymacarn Park (2.30pm).

Stuart Morrow missed the trip to Limerick but should be available.

Richard Reaney comes into the centre for Will Stewart who is unavailable and David Busby is back from Ulster duty but Jordan Grattan is unavailable.

Scrum-half Paul Rowley is absent due to injury.

In the pack Ulster prop Kyle McCall is sidelined with a knee injury.

Captain Paul Pritchard returns from injury and should be joined in back row by Connor Joyce.

“Last week (at Garryowen) got away from us. Our set-piece was solid but our lack of discipline cost us and we gave away 15 penalties,” said Sufferin.

“We’ve a good record against them (UCD) and though we know them, they have changed things with a new coach.

“This one will all depend on us gelling in attack and putting them under pressure but if we give them cheap ball, they’ll punish us.”

UCD appointed a new coach during the close season with former Irish Schools coach Noel McNamara coming in but they lost their opener to Clontarf.