Malone buoyed by victory over Naas ahead of Ulster derby clash with Banbridge

Prop Ross Kane is unlikely to be released by Ulster for Malone
Prop Ross Kane is unlikely to be released by Ulster for Malone

A bonus point win over Naas at Gibson Park last week saw Malone leap-frog the Leinster side to take over top spot in Division 1b.

Paddy Armstrong’s side are a point clear but travel to third placed Banbridge for a massive Ulster derby at Rifle Park.

Armstrong (pictured) was not only happy with maximum points against Naas but also denying the opposition anything from the game.

“It was a very pleasing performance especially in the first half,” Armstrong said.

“Unsurprisingly they came back at us in the second half and it got quite close at one stage.

“But we managed to hold out and we denied them a bonus point which is important and the boys deserve a lot of credit for it.

“It was a really pleasing result and we had Alan O’Connor up on Tuesday and he did a lot of stuff with the boys and we have parked in Naas and we’re just looking forward to the challenge this weekend and we know it is going to be massive.

“If you look at the fixtures there are no big one-sided games or results - a lot of the time it’s one or two tries and it is so tight you can’t get ahead of yourself.”

Banbridge have lost their last two games but Malone are expecting a fierce derby.

“Banbridge are a very good on and off the pitch and they have done a lot of work.

“We know it is going to be a tough game and going to them is probably as tough as it gets in this league,” he added.

“They are well coached but this is just a game in itself and we’ll just focus on it.

“They are always difficult to play at Rifle Park or anywhere we’re under no illusions about the challenge ahead.

“We’ll not worry too much about the weather, we’ll just adapt to it as it comes and go from there and both sides will still try to play rugby.”

Ben McCaughey is with on Ulster U19 duty against Australia, hooker Adam McBurney is with Ulster while prop Ross Kane is unlikely to be released.

Banbridge stayed in third place despite last week’s one point defeat at Co Down rivals Ballynahinch although the Ballymacarn Park club and Armagh drew level on points with Simon McKinstry’s side.

Ulster No.8 Greg Jones is available for Banbridge as they look to bounce back against the leaders.