Banbridge know defeat to Malone is not an option

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Banbridge must beat Ulster rivals Malone at Rifle Park and hope Skerries can beat Naas if they are to be automatically promoted.

Dan Soper’s side go into the final weekend of the regular season three points behind the Kildare side after slipping up in Galway last weekend.

“It was disappointing but to be fair to Corinthians they played very well and didn’t look like a team that hadn’t won a lot of rugby this year.

“They played some very good rugby, they defended well and they were deserving winners,” said Soper.

“We played very well for the first 35 minutes, they scored eight points before half time then in the first 10 minutes of the second half they scored twice both times we just lost our shape defensively.

“For a couple of phases they scored, the rest of the game we played very well.

“The first half we played into a strong gale and were pleased that it was 5-3 after 35 minutes but we left the door open a few minutes before half time.”

Soper is only concentrating on beating Malone and isn’t worried about what might unfold at Forenaughts.

“We’ll just go and try and do or own job which is to beat Malone, in terms of finishing top we can’t really do anything about that.

“We’ll just worry about our game and if Skerries were to cause an upset that would be greatly appreciated in Banbridge. We’ll look a bit silly if that happens and we haven’t done our own job of beating Malone.

“Naas at home knowing they have something significant to play for I’d be surprised if they let down their guard.

“But you never know the All Ireland League often throws up these fixtures where one team is at the top and one is at the bottom and they are both fighting for different things. A bit like us last week and it was a case of what team wanted it more and Corinthians certainly did.”

Bann are looking to complete a league double over Malone.

“There was a lot of chat last summer about all the players that had left them.

“Malone are a very good side and we always have tough tight games against them and I don’t imagine it will just fall into our laps this weekend.

“We’re going to have to work hard to get a result.

“You certainly want to get that W next to your name and get that bit of confidence and momentum going into the playoffs.

“Having a two week break again after this game is a bit frustrating since Christmas it has been very on and off in terms in fixtures.

“You’d like to come out of this weekend and go straight into the playoffs but that is not to be we’ll get this week done and look to see where we are sitting.”

Malone coach Jarrett Truscott is looking to finish the season on a high.

“Banbridge well come out all guns blazing and giving it everything, it’s a good way for us to finish and the boys deserve a good result for all the hard work they have put in this year. We weren’t that far off Naas and if we can get our set piece working we can rock the boat. We have nothing to lose and all the pressure is on Bann we expect them to be physical and aggressive.”

The Belfast side will give a number of players fitness tests before finalising selection.

Queen’s have Johnny McPhillips available for their season ender against Corinthians at the Dub.