Weekend rugby preview
Douglas away at Anselmians
A combination of 6 Nations, ski trips and the late season blues means that Douglas aren’t quite at full strength when they travel to Anselmians this week. The Merseysiders languish near the foot of the table with just three wins from twenty one outings and while Douglas’ promotion chances look to have passed them by, they remain in fifth and are on course for a top five finish. In the absence of Carl Murray, Bryn Snellgrove moves to the ten jersey with Aidan O’Shea switching to centre. The versatile Mike Dunnett continues in the back row and Adam Boyd also returns to add some extra power in the wide channels. On league position Douglas should take this but their form has been indifferent of late and a big effort will be needed.
Vagabonds at Oldershaw
These sides had close tussles last season in the division above from which they were both relegated and they’ll know each other well. Vagas too suffer the late season blues with a few regulars missing this week. Steve Logan’s presence in the back line will add some pace to their attack and Aaron Ledingham deputises for Johnny Beckley at ten. Vagas won 29-17 at Ballafletcher so will fancy their chances away from home.
Ramsey back in action chasing league title
After a couple of weeks away from league action Ramsey jump back on the horse this weekend to face Ruskin Park in Lancs/Cheshire Division 3. Ramsey are fifteen points clear at the top of the table with four games remaining. They need eleven points to become uncatchable and will be looking for five of these against Ruskin Park. The reds picked up maximum points in the away leg, winning 39-22 back in November. With home advantage they’ll fancy their chances. Ruskin Park are currently fourth place and mathematically could still finish in a promotion place. They have however a horrible run-in to the end of the season with away games at Ramsey and also second placed Ellesmere Port and third place Old Bedians. The odds are very much stacked against them.
Ramsey will however be missing skipper Henry Swithinbank who remains on holiday and leading try scorer Dan Bonwick is also away as is Swithinbank’s stand in Ethan Benjamin. This leaves Ramsey with something of a hole in their back line. The versatile Matty Meechan fills in at one centre with Ali Trace making a cameo as the foil to Meechan’s rapier. Veteran Andy Cleator also pops up on the right wing with Harri Radford dropping to full back in a much changed Ramsey back line.
Western Vikings have a big day planned at Peel.
We had hoped to see the crowning of the Shimmin Wilson Manx Shield champions this week however the scheduled game between Southern Nomads and Vagabonds B has been postponed so that event will have to wait. Nomads need three points from their two remaining games to clinch the title.
Western Vikings host Ramsey B in Peel on a big day for the Vikings. They’re unveiling their new kit with the sponsor they’re hosting an U14 Cheshire Plate Semi Final against Southern Nomads kicking off at 12.30pm and to cap it all newly elected President Graham Jones will also be making his first public appearance. Vikings put in an impressive shift last week against Douglas Celts. They shipped a big score in the home leg but held the Celts to 17-0 at Port-e-Chee. The young Ramsey B side however are improving week by week and will be tough opposition as the two sides feel each other out ahead of a Manx Plate clash at the end of the month.
Fixtures 9 March
North One West
Anselmians v Douglas
Ramsey v Ruskin Park
Oldershaw v Vagabonds
Shimmin Wilson Manx Shield
Western Vikings v Ramsey B
Douglas Celts P-P Emerging Nomads