Derry host Ballymena in USL

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City of Derry are expected to welcome back several first team regulars for tomorrow’s Ulster Senior League clash with Ballymena at Judges Road. (Kick-off 2.30 p.m.)

And Mark Nicholl will be hoping for a significant improvement from last weekend’s heavy defeat to Ballynahinch.

Missing a number of players due to a combination of injuries and holidays, Derry fell to a 56-17 loss to the Co. Down men.

With the first AIL game of the season against Rainey on the horizon, Nicholl will be anxious to register a first competitive win of the campaign tomorrow.

Ballymena were relegated from All-Ireland League Division 1B last season and will play against Derry in Division 2A for the first time this year.

The ‘Braidmen’ will come to Derry tomorrow smarting from their heavy defeat at the end of last season and will want to put down a marker for the visit to Judges Road in the All Ireland League in early January.

Ballymena recorded a narrow 46pts to 44pts home win over Queens last Saturday in their first competitive appearance of the season.

Their star man on the day was Rory Drysdale who kicked six out of seven shots at goal to see them to victory and he will certainly be one to watch tomorrow.

Derry and Ballymena met twice last season, both times at Eaton Park.

The first was last November in the Ulster Senior Cup Semi-final which Ballymena won 19-12.

That was a poor game dominated by one red card and three yellow cards issued to Derry players.

The Judges Road men made up for that performance in the last Ulster League fixture of the season in April when they comprehensively overcame Ballymena, scoring eight tries in a 54pts to 19pts victory.

Derry winger David Graham was ‘Man of the Match’ on the night as he completed a hat-trick in a famous victory at Eaton Park.

City of Derry Rugby Club’s Second XV will also compete against Ballymena tomorrow when the two teams meet in a friendly, starting at 1 p.m.