Weekend rugby preview
Douglas face toughie against Birkenhead Park
Douglas will be aiming to get the wheels back on the wagon as Birkenhead Park visit Port-e-Chee in North One West. Douglas lost last week but held onto their fourth place. Birkenhead however are sitting second and will be a hard nut to crack even away from home. Carl Murray’s return lasted just one match and his knee injury may keep him out for some time. Paul Leivers may return in the forwards though he will be subject to late fitness test. The rest of the squad is business as usual and with quite a settled squad the Douglas prospects look good.
Hoylake make Mooragh debut
When you’re at the bottom of the table and winless after six matches, there are no easy fixtures, which is where Ramsey find themselves this weekend as Hoylake visit the Mooragh Park for the first time. The two sides have avoided each other since Ramsey joined the leagues in 2008 with Hoylake playing usually at a slightly higher level. Last season however the Terns finished in the drop zone of the then Lancashire/Cheshire Division 1 and realistically Ramsey would have been due to play them even without the decimation caused by a number of Lancashire Clubs leaving the competition. The first meeting between the sides was back in September at Hoylake’s Carham Road ground and Ramsey lost out 56-3.
Since then, there’s been no Ramsey renaissance however two recent home performances have given the Mooragh faithful some cause for optimism. A tight game against Ellesmere Port was the first green shoot, and last Saturday a 19-19 draw against Garstang saw the first bud take shape on the fledgling plant.
Ramsey fielded a strong side last Saturday and will look to do the same again. John F Watling has been struggling with a hamstring problem and he is sits out again, however Jarred Callister returns after picking up a cut lip in training last week. Jamie Arneil deputised well for Watling at number eight and continues but Callister’s return sees Jack Roberts dropping to the bench and leading try scorer Rory Nicholson moving into second row. In the back line, there’s just one change with Chris Hardisty replacing Connor Casey on the wing.
Vagas aim to down students
In Lancs/Cheshire 2 a pretty much full strength Vagabonds side will travel to Liverpool University looking to keep their place at the top of the table.
Vagas have been dominant up front and the students are historically week in the tight five so the Vagas front row of Matty Jones, Mat Rockwell and Kev Birchall will be looking to slow the game down and dominate the set piece. They should do just that and return with at least four points.
Vagas Ladies head for Notts
Vagas meet a new side this week as they travel to Ashfield in Nottinghamshire. There are however a few team changes to content with. Sophia Birchall will lead the side in the absence of Corinna Daly and Gail Smalley. Rachel Beckley is also missing but the half back pairing of Jo McCabe and Lauren Ellison is performing well and should be too tough for Ashfield who’ve not started well in Womens NC1 North west.
Vikings meet Emerging Nomads in Manx Shield
Western Vikings head South to Emerging Nomads looking for their first win of the season. They lost by just five points last week at Vagabonds Hornets and will want to do better this time around. The two sides met in the delayed Plate Final from last season with Vikings only just clinging on to win. That Plate form however has thus far deserted them in the Shield with three defeats from three outings. Nomads aren’t dissimilar. They beat Ramsey B at the Mooragh but lost in their only other Shield outing.
Elsewhere in the Shield Vagabonds Hornets take on Ramsey B at Ballafletcher on Friday night. The two have already met twice with Vagas taking the honours on both occasions. They shouldn’t however be quite as strong as they were in the Plate game at the Mooragh and Ramsey could take advantage however on paper it should be a Vagas win.
Fixtures 15 and 16 November
Friday 15 November
Vagabonds Hornets v Ramsey B @ Ballafletcher ko 7.30pm
Saturday 16 November
North One West
Douglas v Birkenhead Park @ Port-e-Chee ko tbc
Ramsey v Hoylake @ Mooragh Park ko 1.30pm
Liverpool University v Vagabonds @ Liverpool
Womens NC1 North West
Ashfield v Vagabonds @ Ashfield
Emerging Nomads v Western Vikings @ King Williams College ko 2.15pm