Graham eyes victory before festive break

Ballymena's Andy Graham.
Ballymena's Andy Graham.

Ballymena coach Andy Graham is hoping the Braidmen can go into the Division 1B Christmas break with a win at Old Wesley.

Graham’s side are a point behind St Mary’s but face a tricky road trip to Donnybrook.

“It’s an important game and we need another big push this week, there are things that we need to improve on from last Saturday and we’ve work hard on them at training,” he said.

“We don’t want to be losing ground or give anybody a chance and if anybody else slips up we have to take care of our result.”

After are strong start Old Wesley have dropped to fourth six points behind Ballymena.

“They seemed to have hit a dip, they lost to St Mary’s but there are no easy games you can’t afford lapses or mistakes,” Graham added.

“We have a reasonable record at Donnybrook and it was a ground I always liked playing at, the new surface will be a bit alien to us and would slightly favour Wesley as they would be used to it, but it should be conductive to our game as we like fast firm pitches.”

Ulster flanker Clive Ross is rested so Willie McKay comes in at openside to join Stephen Mulholland and Matty Rea in the backrow.

With Alan O’Connor on Ulster duty David Whann and Connor Smyth start in the second row while the front row remains unchanged.

Graham has the luxury of being able to name the same back division that started the 15-6 win over Bo’s last week.

Olly Millar gets a place on the replacements bench.

Belfast Harlequins face a massive task to fend off relegated, Adam Larkin’s side are six points adrift at the bottom of the table and welcome leaders St Mary’s to Deramore.

Quins are missing Lewis Stevenson and Rory Scholes but have Frank Taggart, Connor Young, Mark Best and academy prop Peter Cooper.

Ballynahinch’s plight at the bottom of Division 1A got worse last week as they lost to Galwegians the team directly above them and are now 12 points behind the Connacht side.

Seventh placed Lansdowne visit Ballymacarn Park as Hinch look for their first win of the campaign.

Ulster’s former London Welsh duo Peter Browne and Paul Rowley are available.