Ballymena poised for crucial encounter

Ballymena Head Coach Andy Graham
Ballymena Head Coach Andy Graham

It’s the proverbial eight pointer at Anglesea Road as the bottom two in Division 1B Old Belvedere and Ballymena clash.

The Braidmen are two points adrift of the Dubliners and are counting the cost of last week’s Senior Cup final defeat by Armagh with lock David Whann and full back Rodger McBurney picking up injuries.

Andy Graham’s side are also missing props Nacho Crespo and Chris Cundell but the coach is hoping his side can produce the same performance they did when they won 28-14 when the teams met at Eaton Park in December.

“It would mean a lot to win this week and it would give you a spring board over them but it isn’t going to be easy as we are missing a few,” said Graham.

“There are some good youngsters coming in and maybe it will freshen things up a bit because our attack was a bit stale in the senior cup final and it might give us a bit of impetus.

“We went on a run and won three in a row ( after Belvedere at home) and I feel we are getting closer, our defence was super on Friday and we just lost our way in attack.

“They have a big pack of forwards but we had a big pack out in the home game and dominated them but we’re not going to be as big this time.

“I hope the backs will be more potent we have a few guys coming in and hopefully that will give us an edge which was badly missing on Friday night.

“They are difficult side and have lost their last two or three games by a score and I think it is two evenly matched sides and it will take a bit of luck on the day to get us over the line.”

Half back duo Michael Stronge and Bruce Houston are available while Marcus Rea and JJ McKee are in the pack.