In Section 1 Ballyclare will be looking to stay ahead of the chasing pack while Coleraine will look to move further away from the relegation zone following their excellent victory over Cooke two weeks ago.
Grosvenor are aiming to finish the calendar year unbeaten and should, while Ballymoney will be looking to get back to winning ways following their cup defeat to Armagh 2nds last week.
The big game of the weekend is at Pollock Park, Lurgan where the the top two put their unbeaten records on the line while at the other end, a win for Civil Service could see them all but condemn Donegal Town to the junior ranks for next season.
Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship
Ballyclare take on Portadown at The Cloughan and will be expected to claim a win against the Mid-Ulster Blues. The Doagh outfit currently hold a six point lead over second placed Carrick following a bonus point win over Enniskillen two weeks ago.
Carrick on the other hand will be expected to claim full points against Clogher Valley and keep their noses ahead of Instonians who lay one point behind Carrick in third spot.
The Shaws Bridge side do have the advantage of having played a game less and Instonians will start as favourites when they kick off against CIYMS at Belmont Road but can expect a tough afternoon against the Black N’ White’s from the other side of South Belfast.
Shaws Bridge co hosts Cooke take on in form Dromore. After ending Instonians unbeaten start to the season the County Down side have kicked on after a slow start and find themselves in fourth spot and favourites for an All-Ireland cup spot. Two weeks ago they ended another unbeaten start to the season when Ballynahinch 2nds left Barban Hill with their tails between their legs.
Cooke are also in the mix for a top four finish but a heavy defeat to Coleraine last day out has seen them fall to sixth place. Another home reverse could see their top four aspirations all but end, even at this early stage.
Coleraine will take much heart from that win at Shaws Bridge two weeks ago and with Enniskillen the visitors to Rugby Avenue this weekend, the home side will be odds on favourites to claim back to back wins and move well away from the relegation zone.
Grosvenor still sit at the summit of Section 2 and so far no one looks like stopping them. Ards are next in the firing line at Gibson Park and anything other than a convincing home win will be a surprise.
After giving a great account of themselves last week against a strong Armagh second string in the junior cup, Ballymoney travel to Newforge to play the PSNI and will be looking to get back to winning ways against the side that was promoted along with them last season. The PSNI have only recorded one win this season and sit second from bottom. It was always going to be a tough season for the Police and things won’t get any easier on Saturday either.
At Roughfort, Academy will be hoping for a better outcome than their last league outing when they take on Lisburn. A 57-12 reverse in Ards was a result that not many saw on the horizon. A defeat against Lisburn on home turf could see them being dragged into a relegation scrap. Home advantage should see them get back to winning ways, but this may be a tighter encounter than many expect.
There’s no doubt where the big game of the day is in Section 3. Lurgan welcome second place Donaghadee to Pollock Park with both sides putting their unbeaten seasons on the line. Lurgan do hold a three point advantage as they have picked up more bonus point wins than their North Down counterparts.
Lurgan survived a testing tussle against Monaghan last week and despite not picking up a bonus point win for the first time this season, Coach Bruce Cornelius would have been delighted to come through a tough encounter and to keep the winning run going. Previously Lurgan have never lived up to their potential and would’ve fallen short on their trips to places like Monaghan.
The Dee have came through some turbulent times in recent seasons. Towns Cup finalists a few seasons back was followed by consecutive relegations. This season has been all about rebuilding and enticing former players back home. Up until now it’s been a case of so far, so good. After a few close battles they went on a scoring spree last week and ran in 11 tries against Belfast High School Former Pupils.
Lurgan have always been known for their big dominating packs and they will relish coming up against another seasoned forward eight from the Dee. Out wide is where the Dee could cause damage and if they can get the ball to the likes of Rory Graham, Chris Scott and Davy McBride then it could be the North Down side that leave Pollock Park the happier on Saturday.
Third place Strabane face a tricky day on Saturday with a long trip to play a Cavan side that had a great win in Holywood last week. Strabane are one of the few sides that carry their home form into their away games and with experience in their ranks in the form of ex City of Derry player Phil Duffy, it might just be a fruitful journey for the Tyrone side.
After claiming their first win of the season last week against fellow strugglers Letterkenny, Civil Service will be hoping to put the sword into bottom placed club Donegal Town. Donegal are currently 16 points off eleventh placed Service and an away win for the Stormont based club will all but seal a return to the junior leagues for Donegal Town and set up a duel with Letterkenny to avoid a relegation play-off.
Letterkenny host Monaghan and going on current form, that looks like an away win.
The two remaining ties should see closely fought home victories for Belfast High School Former Pupils and Newry over Holywood and Virginia respectively.
All games kick off at 2.30pm with Cavan v Strabane kicking off at 1.30pm.
There is a Junior Cup Final dress rehearsal as Ballynahinch 2nds and Armagh 2nds square up against each other in the only Conference 1 fixture of the day. An away win will see the Orchard side take control of this division.
In Conference 2 UUC host Malone 2nds at 2pm while at 2.30pm Banbridge 2nds play Larne, Limavady will host Omagh 2nds and Randalstown host neighbours Ballymena 2nds in what is likely to be a feisty affair.
Current Kukri Championship standings below.
Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Div 1
Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Div 2
Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Div 3