ULSTER RUGBY CLUBS PREVIEW WEEK 4 Sat 21st of Sept 2013: By George Millar

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Results from games on Wed 18th September 2013: Dungannon 41 Ards 10. City of Derry v Armagh postponed. Banbridge 14 Ballynahinch 31 Belfast Harlequins 11 Ballymena 34. Instonians 10 Rainey 20. Malone 15 Queens 21.

Ulster Senior league preview – Week prior to commencement All Ireland League on Sat 28th September 2013.

Ards v Instonians. Both teams will be looking for a win in this game at Hamilton Park. Ards were unlucky to lose narrowly 8 – 6 at Queens. Coach Stewart Porter will have been heartened by their first half performances against Rainey and Dungannon. Instonians under the guidance of Wilbur Leacock have had an encourging start to the season. Instonians to win
Ballymena v Dungannon. The Braid men bounched back from their Senior Cup defeat to Malone to win comfortably at Quins. Coaches Andy Graham, Nicky Wells and former Ulster prop Bryan Young will want to win this encounter. Dungannon have quietly put together two league wins to mount a challenge in the Ulster Senior League. Former Clogher Valley scrum half James Bates has taken on the captaincy of the 1st xv at Stevenson Park. Their six tries against Ards will enable them to travel with confidence to Eaton Park. Ballymena to win
Ballynahinch v Belfast Harlequins. Ballymacarn Park proved a difficult venue for Quins seconds last week in the Junior Cup when they were beaten 59 – 7 by the Hinch seconds. Another visit by the Quins 1st xv this week looks a daunting prospect for the Deramore Park men. Current Ulster Senior League holders – Hinch secured a four try bonus point win at Banbridge to consolidate their grip on the league. Recent addition to the playing staff, NZ outhalf Richie Lobb contributed 16 pts in their win at Rifle Park. Ballynahinch to win
Banbridge v Armagh. Bann coach Daniel Soper will have taken alot of positives from his teams committed performance against Ballynahinch. They host an Armagh team who postponed their game away to Derry. Coach Andy Hughes will want to reverse the home Senior Cup defeat to Banbridge last Saturday where his team were second best. Both coaches will want a win prior to the start of the All Ireland League. Banbridge to win.
Rainey v Malone at Hatrick Park. Rainey bounched back from their heavy Cup defeat at home last Saturday to secure a hard earned win over a determined Instonians side tonight. Rainey will want to win this game to build on their encouraging league performances prior to the start of the AIL league. Malone will want to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Queens when the students dominated the second half to win comfortably. With Dungannon to face at Gibson Park in their opening AIL game coach Jacque Benade will look for a strong performance from his team. Rainey to win.
Both City of Derry and Queens have no game this weekend. Queens have sent out a strong message to their rivals in the AIL that they will mount a serious challenge for promotion this season with wins in recent weeks over AIL 1B sides Trinity, Belfast Harlequins and Malone. On present form they will push Ballynahinch all the way in the Ulster league.

Qualifying One

What a start to the Qualifying league with Clogher Valley scoring over 100 pts and conceding none in their opening two league wins over Ballymoney and UUC. Already the challengers Portadown, CIYMS, Bangor and Coleraine are looking at the Valley team sitting top with ten points. The action continues this weekend with four of the potential contenders meeting each other.
Bangor v Clogher Valley at Upritchard Park. What a tasty encounter. Bangor lost narrowly to champions Portadown on the opening day but bounched back with a 50 pts win over Academy in the Cup. Even at this early stage a must win game for the home team Bangor. Diffiuclt game to call. Bangor to win.
Coleraine v UUC. Despite a narrow opening day defeat to Cooke. Coleraine have bounched back with wins over Ballymoney and Dungannon seconds. Coach Richard Beggs with the help of Stephen Douglas has moulded an experienced squad that could surprise many teams in this league. The addition of young South African scrum half Bokkie Carstens who can also play at ten appears to be a good signing by the club. UUC will have been encouraged by their 50 pts win over Ards seconds in the Cup but their league position doesnt tell any lies. They need to start winning league games. Coleraine to win.
Donaghadee v Cooke. Donaldson Park always presents a difficult challenge for any visitor and with the visit of old adversaries Cooke the confrontation on the pitch will be intense from the first whistle. The Dee men won their opening game against Dromore and lost 10 – 3 away to champions Portadown. They know they have to win their home fixtures. After a bright start at Coleraine, Cooke have lost recent games to Dromore and Ballyclare. They have strengthened their playing squad and coach Colin Atkinson will be looking a big performance from his team. Close game. Cooke to win.
Dromore v Ballymoney. Barban Hill will provide a stern test for Jason Taggart and his players. A hard earned cup win over Lisburn will have lifted confidence. Dromore have moved on from an opening day defeat to win at Cooke and put 85 pts on Armagh seconds in the cup last Saturday. Roared on by their large support: expect Dromore to pick up another four league points.
Portadown v CIYMS at Chambers Park. Last seasons champions and runners up meeting early in the season. Portadown coach Richard Hedley will have been disappointed to lose talisman Stuart Lamb with a serious injury at Bangor. Their playing resources will be fully tested by a confidant CIYMS squad coached by Graham Cloke and led by their Captain Stuart Ferguson. CI’s goal is to win the league this season. CIYMS to win.

Qualifying Two

Ballyclare set out their ambitions for this season by winning their opening league game at Lisburn 33 – 6. Having lost out narrowly to Bangor last season they have to be the favourites to secure promotion. Clubs including Omagh and Grosvenor may have a say in their challenge.
Academy v Lisburn. After being relegated last season. Academy will want to win this opening match to make a statement of their intentions. Lisburn have strenghtened their playing squad but their opening defeat to the ‘White Hare’ men shows how difficult this league will be. Academy to win.
Enniskillen v Carrickfergus. Both teams suffered suprising home defeats in their Junior Cup matches last saturday. If both teams want to be league contenders this is must win game. Carrick to win.
Grosvenor v Omagh. The oustanding game in Qualifying Two. Both teams beat Ballymena seconds and Malone seconds respectively in the Junior Cup to set up an entralling encounter at Belmont this weekend. Neither team can lose this game in their quest to challenge and keep the pressure on Ballyclare. Diffcult to call. Grosvenor to win.
Limavady v Ballyclare. On paper there is only one winner and that is Ballyclare. Limavady have had a busy pre season and recorded an excellent win at Enniskillen in the Junior Cup. The men from the Roe valley will be diffiuclt to beat on their home turf at the John Hunter Memorial grounds. The win by Ballyclare at home to Cooke last Saturday would make them clear favourites. Can Limavady give hope to the rest of the chasing pack by defeating the’ Clare’ team. Expect a large crowd out for this game.

If you are doing nothing on Sat come out and support your local club.


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