Division 1B

Malone celebrate their important win against Old Wesley at Donnybrook.
Malone celebrate their important win against Old Wesley at Donnybrook.

All eyes will be on Gibson Park as the top two sides in Division 1B clash in the match of the day as Malone host Ulster rivals Banbridge.

Wins over Ballynahinch and Old Wesley have put Malone two points clear at the summit while Bann have also won their last two games to climb above Naas.

Malone coach Paddy Armstrong is expecting a typical thunderous derby.

“We know how tough it is going to be and it will be a really good indicator of where we are at,” he said.

“We’ll just focus and get in a good 80, I think an 80 minute performance is the key against these guys because they are so dogged and they won’t give up at any stage.

“I think you need a break and now we’re into a big spell and we’ll know where we are at the end of it.

“We had the break but we have kept it going and have trained well and we are looking forward to what we know will be a massive challenge on Saturday.

“The boys have done really well and we are focusing on ourselves but it won’t mean anything once that whistle goes.

“We can’t think that we deserve anything without doing the work or putting the hard yards in first and keeping our mind right and just playing the 80 minutes.

“That is the most important thing we have to play for the 80 minutes.”

Banbridge won when the sides met at Rifle Park in December.

“Bann are a good side and a well coached side,” continued Armstrong.

“They have had a lot of success and they are a strong club.

“They have done very well and been an example to a lot of clubs about how to progress and they have done very well both last year and this year.”

“They have always had a strong pack but they also try to play rugby and they have in their artillery a lot of big dangerous backs.

“It’s about being prepared and getting parity in all phases.”

Graham Curtis at scrum half while No 8 Ryan Clarke back in contention.

Bann have Ulster duo Jonny Stewart and Greg Jones available. Caleb Montgomery and David McCann have been released by Ireland U20’s.