Malone and Ballymena set for Ulster derby clash

Andy Graham
Andy Graham

There is a make or break Ulster derby at Gibson Park for both clubs as Malone host Ballymena.

The Braidmen are fourth after last week’s defeat by Galwegians left them six points of the promotion places while Malone’s defeat at UL Bo’s put them in the relegation zone two points from safety.

Ballymena coach Andy Graham felt he side could have beat leaders Galwegians last week.

“Disappointed but we weren’t clinical enough and we leaked a couple of soft tries,” said Graham

“We had about 60 to 70% possession and were battering away at their line but you have to give credit to Galwegians they defended for their lives which you have to do if you want to win the league.

“They had four opportunities and scored them all, if we had of moved the ball on occasions we could have walked over, our scrum and line out was good and we were able to disrupt they maul.

“If you look at the maths it is not going to be easy and we can do is go out and win try to pick up bonus points and see what happens.”

It will be the fourth time the sides have met this season with Malone winning two to Ballymena’s one.

“They have put us out of the Senior Cup and beat us at home in the AIL.

“We beat them in the Ulster League a couple of weeks ago and we can take heart from that but it is different when it comes to the AIL, they will be more switched on.

“The breakdown will be crucial and I felt we came off second best against them, our game suits quick ball because we have pacey backs but we are equipped for a forward battle.”

Ulster prop Andy Warwick will be released depending on game time against the Scarlets tonight.

Scrum half Dave Shanahan is allowed to play four minutes.

Belfast Harlequins travel to Buccaneers and have Ulster flanker Sean Reidy available.