RUGBY: Ballymena meet Ballynahinch in crucial derby All Ireland League match

Ballynahinch's  Michael Graham and Ballymena's tony Mc Guinness
Ballynahinch's Michael Graham and Ballymena's tony Mc Guinness

Ballymena and Ballynahinch clash at Eaton Park on Friday night (8pm) in a big All Irelnad League Ulster Division 1B derby.

Both sides go into the game of the back of good results, Ballymena drew at leaders Buccaneers last week while Hinch enjoyed a home win at Dolphin.

Hinch are fifth with the Braidmen are a place and a point below the Co Down side, Ballymena coach Andy Graham is hoping to kick on from last week’s draw in Athlone.

“We need to build on that performance,” said Graham.

“We are maybe a bit disappointed we didn’t get the full points but at the same time we went to the top side in the league and drew with them so we’re not far away from that quality ourselves.

“As the game went on we got stronger, we need to start where we finished off against Ballynahinch.”

Ballymena won 28-18 when the sides met earlier in the season at Ballymacarn Park.

“It doesn’t really need selling. the fact we won away as well adds a bit of spice to it as far as Ballynahinch are concerned they will be out to avenge that defeat and for us it’s about trying to get the win and make a promotion bid.

“Every point counts, you are on a countdown of games now that you are past the midway point.

“Your looking to gather up a number of wins to go on a run. If you drop one you’re losing ground any time you play a team now is the last time you play them so you have to make it count.”

Alan O’Connor and Ricky Lutton who played against Buccs have not been released which Bryan Young is unavailable.

Aidy Kirkpatrick and Chris Cundell prop with David Whann and Connor Smyth in the second row.

Stephen Mulholland and Matty Rea are available in the back row.

John Creighton gets the nod at scrum half and partner’s Ulster Brett Herron with Mark Best on the wing.

Hinch are without front row duo Craig Trenier and Jonny Murphy and Johnny McPhillips is with Ireland U20’s.

Peter Nelson, David Busby, John Donnan, Lorcan Dow and Conor Joyce all start.