Rugby report by Dave Christian
Could Douglas North secure the Manx Trophy this weekend? Yes, they could is the resounding answer but the likelihood of them securing it is a much more difficult proposition. They have so far earned twenty four points from a possible twenty five and have a six point lead with three games remaining. Only Douglas South and Vagabonds can mathematically catch them and they play Douglas South this Saturday at Port-e-Chee.
To take the title with two games to spare Douglas North must win, score four or more tries and prevent Douglas South from scoring four tries and also prevent them from finishing within seven points. The earlier game between the two side yielded a 57-52 win for North and that wouldn't be sufficient, if repeated. On present form North should take the spoils here but South are pretty close to them in playing standard and to take the win as well as deliver on all the other fronts may be just a step too far.
The two Port-e-Chee sides have as predicted ended up in the top positions in the standings. They have also been pretty competitive with it and haven't quite dominated in the way that Douglas’ level 6 seeding suggested they might. The club and its coaching team have hit on a neat solution to deliver rugby which provides them with the maximum benefit without the competitions becoming too one sided. The use of some of their young talent has been instrumental in this and while Craig and Kyle Martin have been grabbing the headlines, the likes of Jack Shimmin, Brendan Kelly, Harry Corrin and Joe Corkish have been grafting away in the background. Whatever the outcome this weekend, one of these two sides will be lifting the Trophy before Christmas and its most likely North.
In the other Trophy game, Ramsey host Vagabonds at The Mooragh looking for revenge after a 28-27 defeat at Ballafletcher when a last-minute Ryan de la Harpe drop goal snatched the points just as Ramsey were thinking they’d won it. Vagas have the better playing record going into the game but they've struggled a little in attack and have just a single bonus point. The forecast dry conditions and the big space at the Mooragh should give a high scoring game and Vagas back line has proven try scorers Jon Reilly and Tom Gascoyne just waiting for ball. Ramsey however like the wide game. Danny Howard and Brandon Atchison have pace to burn and with Ramsey’s athletic pack in support, they can punish any errors. I suspect another close battle here, with Vagas nudging it on the formbook.
What better undercard for a Ramsey v Vagabonds game than Ramsey B v Vagabonds Hornets? These two play in the Manx Bowl and kick off at 1.00pm. The Bowl has Vagas installed as favourites. They have a five-point lead with a game in hand. That game is however against Ramsey. A Ramsey win this week and in the game in hand would put some pressure on Vagabonds who have yet to face Emerging Nomads a second time. Ramsey look to be building form too and whopped Nomads last week. The Hornets however will be much tougher. A side led by Johnny Beckley will always be difficult to beat.
Elsewhere in the Bowl, Emerging Nomads will be looking for five points when they meet Vagas Ladies at Ballafletcher. They desperately need to bounce back after last Saturday's defeat and should be too strong for the girls in the tag variant of the game. Finally at QE2 Castletown are the visitors to Western Vikings. Both sides have struggled from time to time with player numbers, especially Vikings who lost Danny Howard and Peter Crowe to the transfer market. Town took the honours at Poulsom Park but may find Vikings a tougher prospect in Peel.
Fixtures 28 November
Douglas South v Douglas North @ Port-e-Chee ko 2.15pm
Ramsey v Vagabonds @ Mooragh Park ko 2.15pm
Ramsey B v Vagabonds Hornets ko 1.00pmVagabonds
Ladies v Emerging Nomads @ Ballafletcher ko 2.15pmWestern
Vikings v Castletown @ QE2 ko 2.15pm