Accies ‘won’t be sucker punched’ again by Tullamore – Marshall.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

OMAGH Accies make their way to Co. Offaly on Saturday to face Tullamore in this latest round of AIL matches with both teams extremely keen to secure the points on offer.

The home side will hope to move from the wrong end of the table, while Omagh's aim will be to keep in touch with the top and potential play-off rugby, but mainly to avoid being sucked into the quagmire of a relegation dogfight.

In the most interesting and unpredictable of leagues, bottom has beaten top on several occasions, and only a handful of points separate league leaders from basement dwellers. With many head-scratching results on a weekly basis, Omagh coach Phil Marshall is taking nothing for granted as he prepares for this weekend's game.

"We have already been caught out once by Tullamore this year.

They came up and did a number on us. We were awful that day and got sucked into a game we didn't want to get in to.

"Things have changed since that day. As I said at the start of the season, this campaign is all about learning and survival. We are aware of the way they play, their forward orientated game, what to look out for and won't be sucker punched again."

Tullamore finished fourth last season in the AIL with 10 wins and eight losses, though they picked up seven losing bonus points indicating they were close run affairs and competitive in every game, though they were 12 points adrift of third placed Rainey who have had a strong campaign in AIL 2B since their promotion.

The pitch at Spollanstown is heavy and sticky which won't suit Omagh's open style of rugby, but the win against Seapoint at home last time out will have given Marshall's men much confidence.

"I was proud of the way they took the game to Seapoint. We won the arm wrestle up front, suffocated them in the second half and didn't allow them anything. I asked for a reaction following the Thomond result, and I got it.

"We need another win here to keep where we want to be.

League positions mean nothing in this campaign. It doesn't have to be pretty but we need to get points from this one."

Marshall will welcome back Richard Hemphill back to the squad while influential second row Jamie Sproule made a return to playing action at the weekend and may have a chance of being on the bench.

However it may be too soon for the versatile Mervyn Edgar, whose knee injury thankfully was not as serious as originally thought.

The pack put in a tremendous shift with sterling work at the scrum and in defence with the back row impressing as did debutant, Stewart Allen, so no changes are anticipated.

Neil Brown picked up an injury and training so misses this encounter, though Yonga Taleni could be back in the squad.

Omagh will be aware that all of Tullamore's attacking came through their influential back row, player coach, whether securing ball in the lineout, or taking the ball on from his No.8 position while they have several kickers in the backline capable of punishing any indiscipline in their own half.

Kick off is at 2.30pm.


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