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AIB League Central: Ulster Derby Key To Division Three

AIB League Central: Ulster Derby Key To Division Three

With both teams pushing for play-off spots, this Saturday’s visit of former leaders Portadown to current Division Three table-toppers Queen’s University could decide a lot.

Queen’s, the top scorers across all three divisions with 215 points, are riding high at the moment and director of rugby Robbie Moore will have drummed it into the players just how important this run of January games is.

Moore, who has been with the senior side for the past 24 seasons, was delighted with Queen’s four-point return at Connemara last weekend, particularly given the weather conditions and the club’s current injury situation.

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Injuries and call-ups to the Ireland underage squads could hit the Belfast students in the coming weeks, but wins over Portadown and Sundays Well (on Saturday week) would certainly keep them on track.

Top-scoring scrum half Ian Porter will hope to have a big influence on Saturday’s game, alongside his half-back partner Michael Pyper.

Portadown’s visit to Dub Lane is crucial for them, having lost ground in recent weeks. Hika Reid’s men led the table after rounds four, five and six this season but are back down in fifth place now, albeit just a point behind Queen’s.

When the sides met in the Ulster Senior League in November, Queen’s came away from Chambers Park with a 17-10 win but Portadown have begun 2009 in very good fettle with wins over Banbridge (39-26) and Naas (17-5).

Portadown have had some terrific performances this season from the likes of New Zealand full-back Tom Overy, top points scorer Dave Whitten and industrious lock Chris Banks.

Portadown won the sides’ last AIB League meeting, beating Queen’s 25-12 in February 2007 but Saturday’s encounter is likely to be a lot closer with home advantage possibly swaying it for Reid’s charges.

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