We welcome Paul McIntyre from Back of the Stand to Team FRU. Paul will be bringing his expertise in Club Rugby and he kicks off with a review of this weekend’s matches in the Kukri Rugby Championship.
With second placed Instonians in Conference league action, leaders Ballyclare will look to increase their lead at the top while at the other end Coleraine and Clogher Valley will look at their respective fixtures as season defining.
At Belmont CIYMS host bottom club Clogher Valley. A home win would leave the home team within touching distance of safety in their first season back in the top league, a defeat and they could well be dragged into a dog fight against the Tyrone side.
Over in Shaws Bridge, Cooke are having a better season than their recent years. A home win here against Coleraine would leave the Bannsiders very much in that dogfight too.
League leaders Ballyclare saw their unbeaten start fall against Instonians in a cracking top of the table clash two weeks ago, but they still managed to pick up a losing bonus point which could prove crucial come the season’s end. They should get back to winning ways against struggling Enniskillen at Mullaghmeen.
The remaining fixture at Chambers Park could be the closest game of the day. Carrick have progressed this year following on from their promotion two years ago and currently sit fourth and well in the hunt for an All-Ireland Cup spot. Portadown have picked up a bit of form after a slow start and home advantage might just help them claim another win in a tight contest.
There’s only three games down for decision in section 2, but they all involve the top three sides.
The big game is in Kilraughts Road where unbeaten league leaders Grosvenor travel to take on third placed Ballymoney. The North Antrim side remain in the promotion hunt after only coming up from section 3 and also have a Junior Cup semi-final to look forward to. Their only defeat was to Randalstown where they fell away in the final 20 minutes. Grosvenor on the other hand have coasted to victory in all their games. Last time out against Limavady they conceded an early try but then blew the Roesiders away with six of their own, and all before half time. The crowds have been coming back to ‘The Toon’ this season and Saturday is sure to see another big turnout. It was a big home support that helped them see off opposition like Banbridge 2nds in a tight Junior Cup quarter-final and they will need that vocal support if they are to get anything from this contest. Grosvenor should keep their winning run going, but expect a fright or two from a plucky young Ballymoney side.
Second placed Randalstown will be expected to keep the heat on Grosvenor. They go to Coleraine to take on the students of UUC and Head Coach Gary Longwell would be expecting his troops to pick up the five points on offer against the bottom placed club.
At the Glynn, Larne would be expected to get the better of visiting Limavady. Although games between the two sides at the East Antrim venue are usually close, the home side always seem to edge out their North Derry rivals here. The Roesiders are more than capable of getting a result here, but it all depends what sort of Limavady side turns up.
League leaders Lurgan are inactive this weekend. They have taken the full quota from their nine games and sit nine points clear of second placed Donaghadee.
The Dee will be expected to cut that margin this weekend against North Down neighbours Holywood at Donaldson Park.
Strabane should pick up full points in Donegal Town and remain in third place and stay clear of a Monaghan side that has gone off the boil lately.
Monaghan’s loss to Cavan last Friday night wouldn’t have gone down too well in the Farney County. Saturday’s encounter with Belfast High School Former Pupils will certainly be a real test of character for them in Greenisland.
Newry will have noticed that fine win on the road by Cavan last week and they will need to be on their guard as the Breffni Men travel to Hilltown Road.
In the sections other game, Letterkenny’s form has picked up in recent weeks and being at home they should account for Virginia.
Armagh 2nds v Instonians
Dromore v Ballynahinch 2nds
Academy v Malone 2nds
Ballymena 2nds v Ards
Lisburn v Banbridge 2nds
Omagh 2nds v PSNI
All games kick off at 2.30pm with the exception of Donegal Town v Strabane which has a 1pm start.