McCloskey returns to Dungannon colours in vital clash against Malone

Stuart McCloskey
Stuart McCloskey

It’s Friday night under the lights at Stevenson Park with Dungannon hosting Malone in a proverbial eight pointer as both sides battle relegation at the foot of Division 1B.

Dungannon are bottom of the table with two wins from nine games while Malone are a place above on points difference despite having only won once this season but Jacque Benade’s side have managed to pick up five losing bonus points.

Malone’s only win came on the opening day of the season when they beat Gannon 20-11 at Gibson Park.

Centre Stuart McCloskey a try scorer for the Ulster Ravens in their win over the Cornish Pirates last weekend returns to club colours for ‘Gannon as does prop Adam Macklin who also touched down against the English side.

Ulster’s Peter Nelson starts at out half and is partnered at half back by captain James Bates.

Mark Faloon is in midfield with McCloskey, with Chris Cousens and Darren Simpson on the wings and Cormac McCartney at full back.

Glen Sinnamon at loose head and hooker Malcolm Allister join Macklin in the front row.

Plunkett McCallan and John Joe Kane are in the engine room with Brian Davison, David Leyburn and Peter Smith in the backrow while James McMahon is in the squad.

Malone will be looking to stop a run of eight consecutive defeats but are without Ulster out half James McKinney and coach Jacque Benade is weighting up his options at half back with John Creighton likely to feature.

Peter Henderson will return at full back while in the pack Ulster Ravens flanker Connor Joyce is available.

Prop Ross Kane and lock Michael Ferguson have recovered from knocks picked up in the defeat at Corinthians with James McAllister returning to the second row.

Belfast Harlequins are sixth and they make the trek west to face fourth placed Buccaneers.

Adam Larkin’s side have four Ulster Ravens available with Rory Scholes set to play his first club game of the season, Michael Heaney is at scrum half with prop Ricky Lutton and Neil McComb starting but Frank Taggart is with Ireland U20’s.

Ballynahinch took a huge step towards Division 1A safety with a win at UCD last time out.

Derek Sufferin’s men are 12 points clear of the automatic place and three points behind eighth placed St Mary’s.

Hinch host seventh placed Dolphin at Ballymacarn Park and Sufferin is hoping to build on the UCD result.

“The win at UCD has helped and we are really positive about climbing out of where we are, we really hope to kick on from here,” said Sufferin.

David McIlwaine is available in the back line and Michael Lawton will start.

Matthew Arneil is ruled out so Roger McBurney could be deployed in the centre with Aaron Cairns on the wing as Ross Adair picked up an injury with the Ravens.

Harry McAleese and Richard Lobb form the half back partnership.

Prop Kyle McCall and hooker Johnny Murphy return to the front row and the pack is also boosted with Michael Graham and Robert Greer being fit.