I was delighted to see a large crowd turn up to fill the stadium at the Dub for the Dudley Cup match between Queens University and UCD last Friday night. Spectators were not disappointed with the entertainment provided by both teams with Queens outscoring their Dublin counterparts five tries to four to win 29 – 24. It was second row Ali Burke who squeezed over in the corner to score the all important winning try. Well done to Queens Captain David Whitten and the coaching team of Derek Suffern and DJ Creighton.
REFEREES MONTHLY MEETING
Richard Kerr invited me to their monthly meeting at the Kingspan stadium on Tuesday night. Guest speaker was Ben O’Keefe the New Zealand born referee who was in charge of the recent Wales v Australia Autumn International and will take charge of the Ireland v USA match at the Aviva stadium on Saturday evening. There was an excellent turn out present to hear how he became involved in refereeing and the opportunities being a referee has given him to travel the world and take charge of matches in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Only last week I was appealing for more former players and anybody interested in taking up refereeing to put their name forward for a new induction course commencing on the 1st December. Further information can be obtained by contacting Richard Kerr at M 07493868388 or email Richard.email@example.com
The front row and replacements was a topic Richard Kerr briefed the referees present on. It makes it clear to coaches and managers of club teams to identify and designate front row replacements on team lists for the information of the match referee. What happened in the Dromore v CIYMS match should not happen again. I just feel there has been a break down in communications between the Ulster Branch and Club representatives in not informing club coaches what is expected from them prior to handing a team list to a referee. Is it not the duty of club officials to keep their coaching staff updated on regulations involving the domestic game. The referee is there to referee a match. Prior consultation with the referee should avoid such situations arising again in the future over front row replacements. Again Richard Kerr has pointed out to me he is available to discuss any issues involving his referees and interpretation of the regulations.
DEVELOPMENT OF FRONT ROW PLAYERS
I know this is another subject I have raised in the Domestic preview over the last two years. We have a problem in Ulster with training and developing front row forwards. Some clubs are alert to developing props and hookers. The question I am asking is why are we not putting in place structures to help Schools and Club Youth Sections to identify and develop future front row players.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1
Instonians, Dromore and Grosvenor all picked up wins at the weekend to close the gap on leaders Ballyclare. Instonians trail by six points with Dromore and Grosvenor eight and nine points behind. Games involving the top four take place between the 1st and 29th December. First up is Instonians v Ballyclare on the 1st December with Grosvenor v Dromore on the 8th December followed by Dromore against Ballyclare on the 29th December. Two wins for Ballyclare could see them opening up a commanding lead in this league before we enter 2019.
Portadown picked up a vital win at CIYMS with winger Tom Caesar scoring two tries. We have seven points separating the teams in 5th to 10th place. Enniskillen after losing 29 – 20 at Grosvenor have two vital home games coming up against CIYMS on the 1st December and Portadown on the 29th December.
Enniskillen and Coleraine find themselves occupying 9th and 10th place with the team finishing in 9th place going into a playoff with the team that finishes 2nd in Div 2 at the end of the season. Can any of the bottom six teams in Div 1 challenge for a top four finish and a place in the All Ireland Junior Cup next season.
In Div 2 Clogher Valley travel to play 10th place UUC. A win for the Fivemiletown team will see them move into 1st place ahead of Limavady and Randalstown with Clogher Valley travelling to play Academy on the 1st December
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONF DIV 1
City of Armagh closed the gap on leaders Ballyclare to five points with a 30 – 24 win at the Cloughan last Saturday. With three games remaining can City of Armagh holders of the Past Players Cup for the winners of Conference One overtake the league leaders to retain the trophy this season. If Instonians and Dromore can defeat Ballyclare the Past Players Cup could still be making its way back to the Palace Grounds trophy cabinet.
WEEKEND RESULTS/TEAM LISTS SATURDAY 17TH NOVEMBER 2018
DUDLEY CUP. PLAYED FRIDAY 16.11.18
Queens University 29 UCD 24
Queens team: 1. Nicky woods, 2. Alexander Clarke, 3. Andrew Weir, 4. David Whitten (Capt), 5. Ali Buke, 6. Gary Dillon, 7. Curtis Pollock, 8. James Catterson, 9. Matthew Keane, 10. Robbie Johnston, 11. Mark Keane, 12. Conor Shiels, 13. Rory Bell, 14. Johnny Hunter, 15. Michael Orr. 16. Jack Sleator, 17. Brian Cunningham, 18. Conor Brennan, 19. Callum Cardwell, 20. James Longwell, 21. Conor McAuley, 22. Richie McMaster, 23. Jonny Milliken.
Points scorers: 1 x penalty try, James Catterson , Rory Bell, Michael Orr and Ali Burke 1 x try each, Robbie Johnston 1 x con.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1
CIYMS 23 Portadown 28
CIYMS TEAM: 1. Johnny Jordan, 2. Scott McNarry, 3. Michael Lilly, 4. Cory Tipping, 5. Paddy Aiken, 6. Cameron Smith, 7. Jason Gilliland, 8. Scott Dowle, 9. Cameron Stewart, 10. Paddy Beverland. 11. Eunan Nelson, 12. Matthew Kilgore, 13. Gareth Peden, 14.Michael Fry, 15. Jeremy McKeown, 16. John Kavanagh, 17. Shane Moffatt.
Points scorers: Shane Moffatt 1 x try, Matthew Kilgore 1 x try, 2 x cons, 3 x pens. (18 x points)
Portadown team: 1. Mark Neilly, 2. Mark Henderson, 3. Matthew Davison, 4. Matt Stevens, 5. Karim Ahizoun, 6. James Wright, 7. Jordan Taylor, 8. Lloyd Gravatt, 9. Brian Forrestal, 10. Brett Fleck, 11. Josh Matchett, 12. Jonny Holden, 13. Mark Adamson, 14. Tom Caesar, 15. Luke Ashton, 16. Jonny Reid, 17. Gary Hall.
Points scorers: Tom Caesar 2 x tries, Mark Adamson 1 x try, 2 x cons, 3 x pens. (18 x points)
Carrickfergus 8 Dromore 13
Carrickfergus team: 1. Adam Gibney, 2. Alan Whitley, 3. James Graham, 4. Chris Rodgers, 5. Ian McMenamin, 6. Bob O’Callaghan, 7. Ryan Gibson, 8. Curtis Rea, 9.David Moore, 10. David Carse, 11. Michael Black, 12. Brian Alexander, 13. Jack Burton, 14. Fionn McCormick, 15. Simon Wallace, 16. Ross Crymble. 17. R Jeavons.
Points scorers: Chris Rodgers 1 x try, Fionn McCormick 1 x pen
Dromore team: 1. Justin Savage, 2. Stuart Sloan, 3. Rory Pepper, 4. Jonny Maguire, 5. Ross Bingham, 6. Adam McGregor, 7. Peter Elliott, 8. Ben Heath, 9. Lee Steenson, 10. David Lyttle, 11. Andrew Gilmore, 12. Aaron Steawart, 13. Andrew Rutledge, 14. Brian McClearn, 15. Adam McDonald, 16. Andrew Black, 17. Fraser Mulholland.
Points scorers: Andrew Black 1 x try, Lee Steenson 1 x con, 2 x pens.
Grosvenor 29 Enniskillen 20
Grosvenor team: 1. Mark Rainey, 2. Stuart Rainey, 3. Willy Rea, 4. Peter Dawson, 5. Andrew Kelly, 6. Sam Purdon, 7. Jeff Mealiff, 8. Connor McKee, 9. Allen McCluggage, 10. Peter Davison, 11. David Egner, 12. Jos McConkey, 13. Jamie McMullan, 14.Dean Swift, 15. Mark Johnston, 16. Mark Cartmill, 17. Matthew Cahoon.
Points scorers: Willy Rea and Mark Johnston 2 x tries each, Allen McCluggage 3 x cons and 1 x pen.
Enniskillen team: 1. Gavin Warrington, 2. Ryan Cathcart (Capt), 3. Alan Ferguson, 4. David Buchanan, 5. Gary Thorton, 6. Jamie Kelly, 7. Jack Rutledge, 8. James Carleton, 9. Matthew Dane, 10. Adam Lendrum, 11. Gavin Parke, 12. Tyler Millar, 13. James Ferguson, 14. Arnold, 15. Conor Hoy, 16. Dave Patton, 17. Phillips.
Points scorers: Conor Hoy and Gavin Parke 1 x try each, Adam Lendrum 2 x cons and 2 x pens.
Instonians 36 Coleraine 14
Instonians team: 1. Conor Gallagher, 2. Cameron Barr, 3. John Andress, 4. Sean Shuttleworth, 5. Tom Matthews, 6. Johnny Mooney, 7. Massimo Kiri Kiri, 8. James Martin, 9. Paul Marshall, 10. Richard McCarthy, 11. Colm Cregan , 12. David Scott (Capt), 13. Paddy Bell, 14. Gareth Burns – Delaney, 15. Andrew Keane, 16. Josh Cregan, 17. Donal Moloney.
Points scorers: David Scott, Johnny Mooney, James Martin, Sean Shuttleworth and Donal Moloney 1 x try each, Andrew Keane 4 x cons and 1 x pen.
Coleraine team: 1. Chris Braiden, 2. Marek Juzel, 3. Aidy Nevin, 4. Keith McKnight, 5. DD McAllister, 6. Simon McLean, 7. Bernard Mullan, 8. Steven Dickey, 9. Matthew Leighton, 10. Jonny Crowe, 11. Bradley Dempster, 12. Bruce Kirkpatrick, 13. Martin Senk, 14. Gavin Piennar, 15. Stevie Callaghan, 16. Greg Jordan, 17. David Greatorex.
Points scorers: Gavin Piennar and Steven Dickey 1 x try each, Bruce Kirkpatrick 2 x cons.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONF DIV 1
Ballyclare 24 City of Armagh seconds 30
Ballyclare team: 1. Dean Jones, 2. Matthew Coulter, 3. Al Boyd, 4. Willy Logan, 5. Grant Bartley (Capt), 6. Paul Robinson, 7. Gary Weatherup, 8. Ryan Tweed, 9. Andy Eastop, 10. Robbie Reid, 11. Michael Kirk, 12. Gary Clotworthy, 13. Lewis Cahill, 14. Owen Kirk, 15. Niall Lawther, 16. Rory Henderson, 17. Sam Caldwell.
Points scorers: Niall Lawther 2 x tries, Andy Eastop 1 x try, Robbie Reid 3 x cons , 1 x pen.
City of Armagh team: 1. Oisin Kiernan, 2. Johnny Morton, 3. Johnny Clarke, 4. Stephen Morton (Capt), 5. Willy Martin, 6. Ryan Morton, 7. Joshua Kennedy, 8. Gareth McNeice, 9. Gerard Treanor, 10. Harry Boyd, 11. Stuart Hooks, 12. Evan Crummie, 13. John Faloon, 14. Shea O’Brien, 15. Kyle Faloon, 16. Philip Matthews, 17. Peter Lamb.
Points scorers: Johnny Clarke, Stuart Hooks and Evan Crummie 1 x try each, Kyle Faloon 1 x try, 2 x cons and 2 x pens (15 x points)
Ballynahinch seconds 43 Cooke 10
Ballynahinch team: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Clayton Milligan, 3. Jonny Blair, 4. Tom Martin, 5. Sean Sweeney, 6. Brian Howard, 7. Stuart Elwood, 8. Gareth Gill, 9. Lewis Finlay, 10. Matthew Norton, 11. Johnny McCoubrey, 12.Ralph Mealiff, 13. Robin Harte, 14. Aaron Ferris, 15. Paddy Wright, 16. Campbell Classons, 17. James McBriar.
Points scorers: Details not available.
Cooke team: 1. Aaron Hunter, 2. James Milligan, 3. Russell Hunter, 4. Jonathan Walsh, 5. Matthew Crothers, 6. Josh Harper, 7. Callum Robinson, 8. Jason Lyons, 9. Phil Wood, 10. Alan Gourley, 11. Andrew Hanna, 12. Jonathan Backus, 13. Andrew Nelson, 14. Ryan Flavelle, 15. Alex Gourley, 16. Rob Mitchell, 17. Philip Cartmill.
Points scorers: Andrew Nelson and Jonathan Backus 1 x try each
ALL IRELAND LEAGUE ROUND 6
Garryowen (8) v Young Munster (7). Played Friday 23.11.18. KO 8PM
Lansdowne (4) v Terenure College (10). Played Friday 23.11.18. KO 8PM
Dublin Uni (5) v Shannon (3)
UCC (9) v Clontarf (1)
UCD (6) v Cork Constitution (2)
Ballynahinch (5) v Banbridge (3)
City of Armagh (4) v Old Belvedere (6)
Malone (2) v Naas (1)
Old Wesley (8) v Ballymena (10)
St Mary’s College (7) v Buccaneers (9)
Ballynahinch v Banbridge
Three defeats suffered at the hands of their neighbours Banbridge in the All Ireland League last season including a semi final playoff loss at Rifle Park left the bragging rights firmly in the possession of the Banbridge team. Tom Rock and the coaching staff at Ballynahinch are hoping the players can correct these reverses this weekend at Ballymacarn Park when they meet for the first time this season. The feeling is that the players need to respond following a disappointing loss at Naas 27 – 14 in their last league outing on the 3rd November. As Tom Rock put it the team did not perform. The players have had a three week break and will return refreshed and ready to come back during this block of four games before the Xmas break. The team set its goals and targets at the beginning of the season. It is all about focusing on putting in a performance against Banbridge this week. They hold the bragging rights, they are a good side and we respect them. Releases from Ulster Rugby have to be confirmed. Ulster prop Kyle McCall may be released to play in his first comeback game from injury this season. The availability of Peter Nelson and Zac McCall is to be confirmed on Thursday night.
The Ballynahinch players trained well this week with the squad having a clean bill of health. It is a big weekend for the club with the 1st xv at home to Banbridge and the seconds playing Grosvenor 1st xv at Gibson Park in the semi finals of the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup. This season has all been about development with the younger players putting their hands up as the age profile of the squad reduces. Keith Dickson who missed the game at Naas is expected to come into contention with his replacement Tom Martin doing well. Former Ulster and Jersey winger Ross Adair is expected to be involved with the second xv having completed four weeks of rehab. Stuart Morrow is another in the mix for selection after coming off the bench at Naas. The coach was also delighted to see Conor Phillips and Eamon McAnulty back in training.
Tom Rock is expecting a tough game against really tough opponents this week in Banbridge. They are a physical side with few weaknesses who play a good brand of rugby. Both teams have aspirations to finish at the top end of the league this season. He is hoping the players respond from their poor performance at Naas. It is all about getting the nuts and bolts of their game right against Banbridge. They have a solid and stable group of players. It will be a tough challenge with a match involving two strong teams in Ulster who have great respect for each others achievements.
Ulster releases: Kyle McCall, Peter Nelson and Zac McCall to be confirmed on Thursday night. Injuries rule out Aaron Hall, Jack Regan and Tommy O’Hagan with Iwan Hughes involved with Sevens programme.
After three back to back wins Banbridge surprisingly came unstuck in round five at home to Old Wesley to lose 15 – 8. The break will hopefully have reinvigorated the playing squad when they travel to play Ballynahinch this week. Head coach Simon McKinstry has become a father this week with his new arrival – son called Joe ( Would it have anything to do with Joe Schmidt). This has meant Robert Logan and Ian Porter taking charge of team affairs for the match at Ballymacarn Park. I understand only David McCann has been released by Ulster with both Caleb Montgomery and Alex Thompson unavailable due to injury.
City of Armagh v Old Belvedere
With the news coming through that City of Armagh will represent Ulster in the semi finals of the All Ireland Bateman Cup this season. The current First Trust Senior Cup Holders will play either Connacht finalists Buccaneers or Galway Corinthians at the Palace Grounds on the 12th January 2019 after Willy Faloon’s side lost out narrowly to Bateman Cup Finalists Cork Constitution 20 – 13 at the Palace Grounds in January 2018.
The inclusion of this fixture will mean that City of Armagh 1st xv will have to play 10 weeks of back to back fixtures in the All Ireland League, Ulster Premiership League, First Trust Senior Cup and the All Ireland Bateman Cup before they have a weekend off on the 2nd February 2019 starting with this weekend against Old Belvedere away in the AIL. The challenge for the coaches will be to manage the training load of the players with many of the clubs extended playing squad expected to be given opportunities on the 1st xv. It is not only the 1st xv who are in contention. The second xv have three games left in the Conference league as they attempt to overtake leaders Ballyclare. They also commence their Towns Cup campaign on the 5th January 2019 with the third xv in contention for their league along with the Crawford Cup not to forget the 4th xv who commence their McCambley Cup bid on the 1st of December.
For Chris Parker and the players the focus is on the 1st xv this weekend and taking it one week at a time. The second xv are on a six match unbeaten run and are still hurting from their Junior Cup defeat at Lisburn. They will watch with frustration as Ballynahinch seconds and Malone seconds compete in the semi finals of the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup semi finals this week.
Injuries rule out Michael Hoey and Nigel Simpson this week. Back row forward Ryan O’Neill is added to that list after picking up a knee injury training with the Irish under 20 squad. Both Paul Mullan and Neil Faloon came through training on Tuesday night and subject to a fitness test on Thursday night will come into contention for selection this week.
This Saturday represents another big challenge for the City of Armagh 1st xv. The team bounced back from their defeat at St Mary’s to win the Ulster derby against Ballymena at Eaton Park. The coaches are looking the team to turn in the performance they put in to defeat Malone at the Palace Grounds. Old Belvedere have an experienced forward pack and a talented backline to challenge the ambitions of this Armagh team.
Malone v Naas
The meeting of the top two teams in this league with Naas having a four point advantage. Both teams have won 4 and lost one from their opening five rounds. Where Naas have the advantage is they have accumulated five bonus points compared to Malone only having one. Head coach Paddy Armstrong is aware of the difficult run in his team have before Xmas with Naas and Old Wesley at home and Banbridge and Ballynahinch away. The teams experience in the league so far has shown how challenging every team is with the coach not looking too far ahead.
Naas will be a tough challenge for his Malone side with the visitors consistently showing how they have been able to grind out results.
Ulster releases to be confirmed : Scrum half Graham Curtis has been released with the releases of Ross Kane, Joe Dunleavy and Stewart Moore to be confirmed on Thursday night. Injury rules our Matty Agnew and Matty Dalton.
Ballymena v Old Wesley
The release of Ulster players has considerably strengthened the playing options available to Ballymena in recent seasons. This season those releases have been small in number with Ballymena Head coach Andy Graham and his coaching team relying on a number of younger players coming in to play for the 1st xv. The results speak for themselves with Ballymena sitting in 10th place on five points with one win from five. What has been disappointing for the coach is their home performance that has resulted in the team only winning one from three matches at home with the defeats coming in Ulster derbies against Malone and City of Armagh. They travel to play a Old Wesley team at Donnybrook who came up just short against league leaders Naas losing 31 – 23 two weeks ago.
Andy Graham is hoping to have Marcus Rea released with the release of Clive Ross to be confirmed on Thursday night. Bruce Houston has not been released by the Irish under 20s with the coach hoping to have scrum half Michael Stronge available. Centre Glenn Baillie has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Both forwards Conor Smyth and JJ McKee will face late fitness tests to confirm their availability.
Ballymena squad for this week: 1. Nacho Clandero Crespo/Josh Bill, 2. Jonny Spence, 3. Chris Cundell, 4. Conor Smyth/ JJ McKee, 5. David Whann, 6. Clive Ross/Willy McKay, 7. Marcus Rea (Capt), 8. Stephen Mulholland, 9. Michael Stronge, 10. Timothy Small. 11. Johnny McMullan, 12. Alan Smyth/Darrell Montgomery/Matthew Norris, 13. Jordan Foster/James Wheeler,14. Dean Reynolds, 15. Rodger McBurney, 16. Josh Bill/Nacho Clandero Crespo, 17. James Taggart/Andrew Ferguson, 18. JJ McKee/Conor Smyth, 19. Matthew Norris/Eoin Ritson, 20. Scott Willoughby.
The Ballymena coach is expecting a difficult trip to Dublin this week for his playing squad. The key for the team is getting themselves in the right place for the match. He was disappointed for the players in their last AIL defeat at home to City of Armagh. They put in a huge effort particularly in defence in the second half to come away with no league points. You just need that bit of luck and a win to build confidence going forward. Losing key backs James Beattie and Glenn Baillie to injury has been a blow to the team. The coach does welcome back the experienced Rodger McBurney to fill the full back position this week.
MILLAR McCALL WYLIE JUNIOR CUP SEMI FINALS
Dromore v Malone seconds
Head coach Jonny Cullen is expecting a very tough game against last seasons semi finalists Malone seconds at Barban Hill this weekend. Malone lost out to a late score at Ballymacarn Park with Ballynahinch progressing to the final where they defeated City of Armagh seconds. The players trained hard on Tuesday night with the prospect of a Cup Final bringing a real buzz to the club. The hard work of the players has been rewarded with the team securing a home semi final. He has a fully fit squad that came through a tough challenge at Carrickfergus last Saturday to win 13 – 8. It is the depth in strength that the squad has created over the last three seasons that has maintained a competitive edge in training and selection each week. . This was emphasised by the club second xv defeating Malone thirds 62 – 0 last week. The coaches Jonny Cullen and Jamie Kirk will welcome back Jonny ‘Mo’ Simpson into the front row with Justin Savage being rewarded for his performances by retaining a place in the front row. Graeme McCandless is expected to return to the backline after missing the game at Carrickfergus. Andrew Rutledge was another to impress in the backline last week after returning from injury. The five bench replacements have yet to be finalised with Andrew Black, Tom Lyttle and Fraser Mulholland expected to come into contention to cover the front row with the backline replacements to be confirmed on Thursday night.
For the Dromore coaches it is all about the players being up for a physical challenge against Malone. You know what to expect from a Malone team who know where to play rugby on the pitch. The coach is expecting it to be a tight close game. It is all about the players being patient and maintaining their discipline and holding their resolve to get a win.
Grosvenor v Ballynahinch seconds
Head coach Robert Ford is expecting his team to face a very strong Ballynahinch side in the semi final at Gibson Park this week. It is 27 years since Grosvenor last played in the Junior Cup Final. Prop Pearce Jamison is unavailable with Willy Rea continuing at tight head. Second row Peter Dawson is a doubt with an ear injury. Out half Adam Skelton remains unavailable due to injury with Peter Davison expected to continue in the 10 jersey. Number 8 Connor McKee is ineligible after being signed by the club in September. Matthew Cahoon is an option to come into the second row or back row. Andrew Kelly started in the second row last Saturday against Enniskillen and can also play at number 8 alongside Jeff Mealiff and Sam Purdon. Stuart McIIwaine will return to the backline with the coach still to decide his five bench replacements. Mark Cartmill, Matthew Allen and Ben Davis will cover the forwards with James McMullan, Matthew Fitzimmons and Neil Adams in contention for the backline replacements. One area the coaching staff have been working on this season is developing players who can cover a number of positions. This has helped to create strength in depth in the playing squad.
This game is all about the players going out and enjoying themselves. The coach is expecting his team to be competitive against the current Cup holders. The two teams have already met this season in the Conference League at Ards with Ballynahinch winning 32 – 18. The game was close until the latter stages when Ballynahinch scored a try.
For Ballynahinch seconds coach Mark McDowell this weekend is all about the team focusing on the great tradition Ballynahinch rugby club have in competing for the Junior and Towns Cup each season. Ballynahinch seconds are the current holders and will be going for their third final in a row after defeating City of Armagh seconds and Omagh 1st xv in their last two final appearances. For the coaches Brian McLaughlin, Tom Rock and Mark McDowell who is assisted by Davy Harris it has all been about player development to build a strong 1st xv and 2nd xv squad. It is all about the players pushing to be successful with this group of players wanting starting places on the 1st xv such is the competition. This breeding ground for player development was illustrated last weekend with former under 18 second row Sean Sweeney starting for the seconds in their 43 – 10 win over Cooke in the Conference league. Another player who made his debut against Cooke was former Strabane Grammar School 1st xv Captain Ralph Mealiff who has made a big impact at the club.
Mark McDowell knows many of the Grosvenor players from his work in Grosvenor Grammar School. He is expecting a very tough game involving two teams who want to play rugby. He and his players will be showing the utmost respect to this Grosvenor team who are building a good ethos on and off the pitch as they continue to move forward as a club. The two teams will be different from the sides that met in the Conference league game.
Several difficult selection decisions have to be made with the 1st xv waiting on confirmation from Ulster rugby on releases. You have Ronan Patterson putting Aaron Ferris under pressure for a starting place after scoring four tries against Coleraine. Second row Matt McKelvey is another player who will be involved this week Graeme McKitterick is expected to start in the back row alongside Stuart Elwood and Gareth Gill with Brian Howard moving into the second row. Depending on front row releases Clayton Milligan could start alongside Ben Cullen. Both Lewis Finlay and Matthew Norton are expected to start at 9 and 10. Paddy Wright, Johnny McCoubrey and Aaron Ferris will probably cover the threequarters. No decisions will be made on the starting centre permutation until the 1st xv selection is confirmed with Rory Butler and Callum McLaughlin currently holding down the 12 and 13 jersey. Stuart Morrow will come into contention after coming off the bench at Naas. Another player expected to be involved for the second xv is former Ulster and Jersey winger Ross Adair who has completed his rehab from injury to make himself available this week.
Prop Kelvin Hamilton has been ruled out for several weeks after picking up an ankle injury. Two other second xv players making a return to training from injury are Eamon McAnulty and Conor Phillips.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 2
UUC (10) v Clogher Valley (3)
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 3
Letterkenny (10) v Ophir (12)
Monaghan (2) v PSNI (4)
Newry (7) v Holywood (3)
Strabane (5) v Donaghadee (1)
Virginia (8) v Cavan (11)