Ballymena coach Graham expecting difficult tie against Harlequins

Ballymena Head Coach Andy Graham
Ballymena Head Coach Andy Graham

It’s second against bottom in the big Ulster derby at Eaton Park as promotion chasing Ballymena host relegation threatened Belfast Harlequins on Saturday.

The Braidmen won 22-14 in the earlier meeting at Deramore but despite the league positions Ballymena coach Andy Graham is expected a tough battle.

“You can’t take anything for granted, everyone is beating each other and there will be plenty more upsets, we just have to knuckle down and play to the best of our ability,” said Graham.

“It’s a big derby if you look at the league table it should be an easy win for us but it will be anything but, it is going to be a tough game.

“They had a good win against Bohemianss last time out and they are a different team when they have players released from Ulster.”

Graham was disappointed that Ballymena failed to win last time out at Corinthians.

“Before we went down if you had of offered us the draw we’d have taken it but we should have won it, in the first half we had two try scoring opportunities we didn’t take and that probably cost us the win and a bonus point victory.”

“In the second half the weather deteriorated and we had to play into the wind and rain, it was a missed opportunity to close the gap on Galwagiens after they lost.”

Michael Lagan returns from the Ireland U20’s training camp and starts in a powerful front row with John Andrew and Dave Ryan.

Dave Shanahan and Ricky Andrew start in the back line.

Quins coach Adam Larkin must decide whether to play either Ricky Lutton or Neil McComb, while Rory Scholes is available.

Elsewhere in Division 1B Malone host Corinthians.

In Division 1A sixth placed Ballynahinch travel to UCD who are a place and a point above them.