Qualifying League Preview Saturday 19th October 2013: By George Millar

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Qualifying One
Round 6. We have five points separating the top five teams with the champions Portadown on 18 pts: two ahead of Bangor and Clogher Valley with CIYMS and Ballymoney on 13 pts. This weeks fixtures have the the teams in the top half playing the sides in the bottom half. Points are vital for the teams pushing for league and top four positions whilst the two North Coast teams Coleraine and UUC occupy the bottom two positions. Three points separate Coleraine Donaghadee, Cooke and Dromore. The students are eight points behind Coleraiene.

Bangor RFC I XV v Cooke RFC I XV

Bangor have made their intentions known after resting several players for their Junior Cup fixture against Portadown when they conceded six tries and ended up losing 43 – 24. The seasiders goal is to win the league and return to playing Senior rugby. Key half backs Ricky Armstrong and Jason Morgan will return for the visit of Cooke. Cooke secured a morale boosting win over UUC 27 – 14 at Shaws bridge to ease their relegation concerns. They recruited twelve players including player coach Colin Atkinson in the off season. Having recorded their second league win the team will look to push up the table. The Gourlay brothers present a challenge for any defence with their attacking flair. The Upritchard Park faithful will want to see nothing less than a convincing win. Bangor to win

Clogher Valley RFC I XV v Donaghadee RFC I XV

Clogher Coaches Glen Kyle and Davy Black will want to see the their team overturn the 38 – 0 lost to the North Down team last season at Donaldson Park. Their 48 – 11 win at UUC last Sat with ensure the free scoring Fivemiletown side remain in contention for league honours. With Portadown topping the league the Cran side can not afford any further slip ups. Donaghadee have performed well in their last two away games against Portadown losing 10 – 3 and CIYMS 18 -12. Their heavy 39 -18 defeat at home to a rejuvenated Ballymoney team sent shock waves through the Dee supporters. The team responded with a 24 – 20 win at Banbridge in the Junior Cup. Half Backs Alastair Lockhart and player coach Paul McKenzie will require a massive effort from their forwards including Chris Good, Tony Brown, Chris Hamilton and David Murray to take points from this fixture. Dee have never won at the Cran. Can they cause upset? Clogher Valley to win


Despite encouraging performances against both Bangor and Portadown: Coleraine ended up losing both games. They will face another title contender at Sandel Lodge knowing a win for the home side is crucial to move them away from the bottom of the league. Their 46 – 26 win at Instonians last Friday when they scored seven tries will have lifted the squad. Coach Richard Beggs praised his back row of Kenny Calladine, Bernard Mullan and Captain Stephen Douglas for inspiring their win. CI with no Junior Cup commitments have had two weeks to recover from their hard earned 31 – 24 win over Clogher Valley. Captain Stuart Ferguson will know a win is vital for his team to keep the pressure on their fellow league contenders. Coleraine to win

Dromore RFC I XV v Portadown RFC I XV

Barban Hill will welcome the current league champions who are building up their challenge for league and Cup honours. With the return of Willy Graham to the second row their back row of Gary Hall, Diarmuid O’Kane and James Carleton have dominated their opposition in recent weeks. Dromore after a promising run have suffered successive defeats at home to Bangor and away to Ballymoney in the Cup. Coach Richard Hedley will want his Mid Ulster team to push on and put distance between his team and the chasing pack. Portadown to win

UUC RFC I XV V Ballymoney RFC I XV

The Riverside students have struggled this season with only a Junior Cup win over Ards seconds to show for their efforts. They narrowly lost the local derby with Coleraine to a last minute try. Ballymoney have strung together several impressive results in recent weeks. The Kilraughts team are chasing a top four finish this season. Ballymoney to win.

Qualifying Two

Ballyclare remain out in front of the chasing pack with surprise package Lisburn their nearest challengers. Recently promoted Strabane have struggled in their opening league games and remain bottom of the league.

Enniskillen RFC I XV v Omagh RFC I XV Played Friday 18th October with a 7.30PM kick off.

This eagerly awaited fixture will attract a large crowd to witness the rivarly between these two clubs under the floodlights at Mullaghmeen. Enniskillen appear to have found their inner belief after a mixed start to their season when they defeated Grosvenor 32 – 12. Coach Alastair McKee will have been pleased with his teams performance at Ballyclare to see them take all five points against Grosvenor. Omagh Captain Ali Ferguson will want his team to bounce back from their 42 – 10 Cup defeat at Ballyclare last Saturday. Enniskillen to win

Ballyclare RFC I XV V Grosvenor RFC I XV

Coach Bob Young and Captain Robert Boyd much be delighted with the strong start the men from the Cloughan have made to their season. On present form they are capable of competing with any team in Qualifying One. Captain Boyd leads by example and his sixty metre dash for a try against Omagh was one of the games hi-lights. Grosvenor are into the Quarter Finals of the Junior Cup and were expected to be one of Ballyclare’s main Challengers. Their heavy defeat at Enniskillen dented their ambitions. Ballyclare to win

Carrick RFC I XV v Randalstown RFC I XV

Points will be vital to both sides looking to avoid getting caught up in a potential relegation contest. Randalstown’s inability to kick their penalties cost them last Saturday at home to Grosvenor in the Junior Cup. Difficult game to call. Carrick to win

Limavady RFC I XV v Lisburn RFC I XV

The team from Blaris have recovered from an opening day defeat to Ballyclare to sit three points behind the league leaders. Limavady sit mid table. Limavady are always difficult to beat at home. Lisburn to win

Strabane RFC I XV v Academy RFC I XV

Newly promoted Strabane have struggled with opening league defeats to Lisburn and Limavady. Academy have recovered from relegation to sit mid table. Omagh had to work hard to beat them in the league 23 -13 two weeks ago. Expect Academy to win.

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