Weekend rugby preview
Douglas face big challenge at Northwich
Douglas currently occupy third place in the North One West standings but need a win away at Northwich to hold onto it. Nearest rivals are Birkenhead Park and they face next to bottom Anselmians at home which should give them five. Douglas however have a two point advantage which means that a win will be enough for them to hang on. They lost 30-17 last season so will be looking to expunge that memory together with Northwich’s 14-7 win at Port-e-Chee earlier this season.
Top two clash in Shimmin Wilson Manx Plate
While the finalists in the Manx Cup are now decided, the Manx Plate remains wide open and this weekend, with the leaders Ramsey B and Western Vikings, meeting at Mooragh Park, there’ll be an opportunity for someone in the chasing pack to close the gap. Two of these sides, Emerging Nomads and Vagabonds B lock horns at King Williams College and a defeat for Vagabonds could end their chances while a defeat for Emerging Nomads would put a major dent in their ambitions too.
Ramsey and Western Vikings have met once already in this competition. Vikings won that one convincingly 75-5 and as the only unbeaten team left in the Plate they must start as favourites. Vikings have two of the Shimmin Wilson leading try scorers in centre Danny Howard and number eight Alex Gibson who between them have crossed the line twenty seven times. Any side containing these two is likely to have a good attacking edge. Ramsey however are no slouches and average nearly 35 points per game in the Plate. Manager Mike Caine has taken quite a raw outfit at the start of the season and slowly built them into a team. Nathan Thompson and Reece Noden have been regular scorers however the spoils have been shared around a bit more than Vikings and a number of players feature in the stats. The two sides met in the Manx Bowl at the Mooragh and Ramsey edged that one 14-10 which shows they do have a winning mentality at home.
In the other game, much will depend on the squad availability. With both first teams also meeting in the Manx Cup there could be some frailty. Vagas managed a full side last week although a strong Castletown beat them convincingly which suggests that Nomads may do the same. It is however approaching the end of the season and Nomads’ skipper Mike Quayle may also find his options a little limited here.
Final Pool games in Shimmin Wilson Manx Cup
Sadly for all teams involved, the results from the most recent round mean that the finalists are now confirmed. Ramsey will play Douglas Celts in the 27th April final at Ballafletcher. Coincidentally, the two face each other this weekend in their last pool game at Port-e-Chee. The last meeting at Ramsey’s Mooragh Park ended in a 15-15 draw so this dress rehearsal for the final will be a good indicator of form.
Ramsey picked up a few knocks last week away at Newton-le-Willows. Matt Livesey (calf) and Fintan Cummins (ankle) look set to miss this one out, however Eddie Lord, Jarred Callister and Rory Nicholson could well make a return as could Matt Meechan who should be back from his ski trip. Douglas have had a great run in this competition though and will be difficult to beat on their home turf. They have an impressive front five and in the back line, enough pace to cause Ramsey problems.
In the other Cup game Vagabonds make the trip to Southern Nomads looking for their first win in this campaign. It won’t get them off the foot of the table but would restore a little pride. Vagas weren’t too far away from Liverpool University last week in the league and showed some stamina especially in the second half. Nomads will need to have all their big guns firing to swat them aside as they did in the reverse of this leg back in November.
North One West
Northwich v Douglas
Shimmin Wilson Manx Cup
Douglas Celts P-P Ramsey
PDMS Southern Nomads v Vagabonds
Shimmin Wilson Manx Plate
Ramsey B V Western Vikings
Emerging Nomads v Vagabonds B