Weekend rugby preview
Douglas off to Burnage
It’ll be tricky for Douglas this weekend away at Burnage. For starters the game will be played on Burnage’s 4G surface and while Douglas have played on it before, Burnage’s familiarity with how it plays will be a big advantage. There’s only five points between the sides too. Douglas are third and Burnage are eighth, so a defeat could see Douglas slip a place or two. Notable in Burnage’s results is picking up two bonus points away at Wilmslow back in week 1. Douglas however have the tightest defence in the table and it’s their attack which hasn’t been on song. They have just five try bonus points in ten outings.
There are a few changes to the Douglas squad this week too. Sean Garland, Joe Corkish, Phil Plaatjies and Owen Carvin all get call ups. Will Cain is likely to move to ten and Aidan O’Shea to centre. A win for Douglas would be a great result but when you add together all the different factors, it looks like it could be a Burnage day.
Ramsey on the road
Ramsey travel to Congleton this week in Lancs/Cheshire 1 and are hoping to avoid another mauling at the hands f the team known as “the Bears”. Congleton won 57-14 in the reverse fixture at Mooragh Park and are unbeaten at home so far this season. The closest relevant result is a 20-15 win against Garstang against whom Ramsey drew. It’s clear that Ramsey’s performances are improving as the season progresses however the formbook is firmly against them and any points brought back this Saturday will be a bonus.
There will likely be some changes to the Ramsey squad too. Matty Meechan, Dan Bonwick and Ben Harding are unlikely to travel and Dave Hinks will also sit out. Hinks’ replacement is simple enough though with university boy Adam Dunlop likely to step in at front row. John F Watling has been out for a few weeks with a niggling hamstring from the warm up against Ellesmere Port and he could return. Likewise Jamie Arneil tweaked his back in warm up last Saturday and that may have settled down. The backline will however be the tricky bit. A Watling return could free up Harry Parsons for a place out wide, where he has the pace and the physicality to make an impression. Also Connor Casey sat out last Saturday and he would be a welcome addition to the squad.
First v second in Lancs/Cheshire 2
League leaders Vagabonds go to second place Port Sunlight for what could be a defining game. Vagas have a four point lead and will be looking to stretch it. Sunlight however are unbeaten at home this season but are scoring a little easier than Vagas who have just two try scoring bonus points in eight starts.
There are no injury worries at Ballafletcher and a full strength team should be travelling. Vagas won the Ballafletcher leg back in September by just two points so this one could be as close.
Three games in Manx Shield
There are three games on the Manx Shield card this week, the pick of which being a Southern derby at King Williams College where Castletown cross the road to meet Emerging Nomads. The two sides have been historically close on paper and the game could be a belter. KWC does however have its water retention issues although with Poulsom Park close by, the game seems likely to go ahead. Town have had Tom Bielich back out wide recently and he’s a proven try scorer and his finishing coupled with Kunal Patel’s trickery in midfield could be the tipping point for Town.
Elsewhere in the Shield Ramsey B host Southern Nomads at the Mooragh Park for what should be a straightforward Nomads win. Ramsey showed patches of form last week with Nathan Thompson and Nico Gantous especially catching the eye. Nomads however are still in with a shout in this competition and they’ll make sure they take maximum points.
The final game sees Western Vikings entertain Douglas Celts. Vikings have been struggling this season despite a Manx Plate win and with Douglas in imperious form, they should win comfortably. At the time of going to press however the venue for the match hadn’t been agreed, but Ballafletcher had been pencilled in. Port-e-Chee is however also free this week so even if there is a venue switch it won’t be too far.
Fixtures 23 November
North One West
Burnage v Douglas @ Burnage
Congleton v Ramsey @ Congleton ko 1.30pm
Port Sunlight v Vagabonds @ Port Sunlight
Manx Shield all ko @ 2.15pm
Ramsey B v PDMS Southern Nomads @ Mooragh Park
Emerging Nomads v Castletown @ King Williams College
Western Vikings v Douglas Celts @ Ballafletcher