Derry face back to back Harlequins test

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CITY of DERRY could be without three key players tomorrow when they travel to Belfast for the first of back-to-back meetings with Harlequins.

Michael Wilson reports

Winger, Simon Logue, picked up a knock in last week’s opening day 19-7 victory over Banbridge and is likely to be rested while back row, Richard Baird, is another doubt after picking up a knock in training. Definitely missing will be the influential Bob McKillop whose wife is due to give birth this weekend.

Tomorrow’s League meeting will be followed by an Ulster Senior Cup tie between the teams at Judges Road in eight days time and Derry coach, Bevan Lynch, claimed the two games will provide a good gauge of how far his side has come in terms of All-Ireland League preparation.

“Last week we did some very good things against Banbridge but there is still work to be done,” explained Lynch.

“Initially we opened them up quite easily and could have had the game buried by half-time but there was a lot going on off-the-ball and in the second half it became a bit of a slog and not a great spectacle.

“Our defence was fairly physical which was pleasing and we are not a million miles away, but the next two weeks will see us really tested. Harlequins had a very good result last week at Malone and they have recruited well and kept the nucleus of their players from last season.

“They have a big heavy pack that scrums well and some very able backs, so our defence is likely to be fully tested.”

While Lynch’s hand will be forced by the absentees, he admitted he was always going to rotate his squad for the game as he keeps one eye on next week’s cup tie.

“Some of the new players did well last week. Adam Bratton had a sound game while Adam Parke and Chris Barber both showed up well in the Seconds

“I want to give some players a run ahead of the cup because you don’t want to go out of it early as it leaves some gaping holes in your fixture list. The AIL comes fairly early and fixtures are coming think and fast at the start of the season but for us, at the minute, we want to see an improvement each week.

“It is important to win so we can carry some momentum into the All-Ireland League but there are some aspects of our game we need to work on before the ‘big’ games. We got a bit out of last week’s match, but not as much as we would have wanted.

“Harlequins will be a good challenge for the players and they are looking forward to it,” he added.