Leaders Banbridge face tough test against Naas

Banbridge coach Dan Soper
Banbridge coach Dan Soper

It could be a definitive weekend in Division 2A as the top six all meet each other.

Banbridge top the table with a six-point lead but face a trip to second placed Naas and coach Dan Soper knows it will be a tough day in Kildare.

“Cashel away was our first game we won outside Ulster.We got beaten by Naas down there last year and played 14 men for about 75 minutes as they had a player red carded early on and we couldn’t beat them,” said Soper.

“It’s not an easy place to go and it’s another challenge we need to get ourselves up for to get back to back wins on the road.

“There are six games to go and that is a third of the league and if you go back six games we certainly weren’t sitting at the top so a lot can change in six games.

“And it is important we just take it one game at a time and get over that challenge of winning away from home and if we do that things might pan out.

“It’s a pretty important game for both teams, it’s a pretty important game for a number of teams near the top, if we lose it keeps two are three teams in with a chance of finishing first if we win it gives us a big of a cushion.”

“It’s a weekend where there is separation or it gets tighter again and that why it is important to go and get the win and worry about our result and if we do that we’re going in the right direction.”

Bann won the first game between the side’s this season 11-0 at Rifle Park.

“It was a really tight game. We scored a try after two or three minutes and then they dropped the ball and we hacked it through to score.

“That was the only try of the match, the rest of the game was two teams that defended really well.

“When you look at the league table Naas score a lot of points so to nil them on the day was significant.

“League tables tend to tell the truth and both teams are up there for a reason.

“But it’s that long since we played them there are a few things you can sort of look at.

“I don’t think we are playing a level of rugby you’d want to get too carried away with.

“You just want to focus on what you are doing well.”

Soper has injury doubts over Andy Morrison, Chris Allen, Kallan Martin Josh Cromie, Miles O’Hagan and Clarke McAllister but young exciting loose forward prospect Robin Sinton comes into the match squad.

After two consecutive defeats Malone will be hoping to get their promotion campaign back on track against Cashel at Gibson Park.

Jarrett Truscott’s side have slipped to fourth with the Tipperary outfit a place and three points behind Malone.

Full back Mark O’Connor is fit after a hamstring problem while Michael Cartmill comes into the centre but Rory Campbell is ruled out, in the pack James McAlister comes into the second row to partner Cory Tipping.

Nine points from two games has propelled Queen’s back into the playoff race but they face a difficult away trip to fellow students UCC.

Queen’s are sixth while the Cork side are third but Bob Young’s team make the journey with a seriously depleted squad.

Rob Lyttle and Jonny McPhillips are on Irish U20 duty, Nick Timoney, Brian Cunningham, Jake Milligan, Josh Atkinson and Saul Herdman are all injured while seven other players are ruled out for various reasons.