It's the busiest weekend of the season so far with the Gallagher Challenge Cup quarter-finals taking centre stage in the NCU, followed by the huge Robinson Services Premier League clash on Sunday between last year’s top two, CIYMS and Waringstown.

Captains Nigel Jones and Greg Thompson were on opposite sides yesterday with first blood to Thompson as Northern Knights inflicted defeat on new Leinster Lightning coach Jones.

Both men know that a CI victory would all but end Waringstown’s hopes of taking the league trophy away from east Belfast, although if North Down win at Lisburn tomorrow it would move them level with the ‘Big Two’ ahead of their clash at Belmont.

Mark Adair (CI) and James McCollum (Waringstown) will miss the big game as they will be training with Ireland ahead of Monday’s first one-day international against Zimbabwe at Bready while Shane Getkate and Gary Wilson will be absentees when Instonians host Civil Service North.

Indeed, the latter two also miss the cup ties tomorrow which go ahead despite the counter-attraction of Zimbabwe’s ‘warm-up’ game at Eglinton, where James Cameron-Dow is the only NCU player selected for Ireland Wolves.

With Ted Britton back in action for CI, however, they should still be too strong for Carrickfergus, while last year’s finalists, Waringstown and Civil Service North will be favourites to progress against Instonians and Civil Service North respectively.

Stuart Thompson and Graham Kennedy are the two North West players on duty for the Wolves but all eyes will be on Beechgrove where Brigade will attempt to make seven wins out of seven, at home to Strabane, while closest challengers Donemana and Bready clash at The Holm.

The hectic weekend starts tonight with the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup semi-finals at Belmont and Comber.