Weekend rugby preview
Douglas aim for top three finish
Douglas play their final home game of the season in North One West when they face struggling Burnage at Port-e-Chee on Saturday. Burnage are only eleven points behind fourth place Douglas in the standings however they’re also in the relegation zone as this league is so so tight. Douglas want a big finish. They were ninth last season and a top four spot is a huge improvement. There are however changes to the squad. Todd McDowell is injured so Ralph Clarke gets the nod at prop with Owen Carvin coming onto the bench. Niall Killey and Sam Games link up in the back row and Filipe Pereira gets a trot in the engine room. Expect a high pace game and a Douglas win.
Vagabonds travel to Parkonians
Vagas make their final road trip of the season when they travel to Oxton Parkonians. Parkonians have had a torrid season and are bottom of Lancs/Cheshire 3 with just two wins from eighteen attempts. Vagas won comfortably at Ballafletcher and should claim a double even in the absence of inspirational captain James Clarke who has a broken thumb.
Ramsey aim to claim first league title
Ramsey face Old Bedians at the Mooragh Park this weekend in a game kicking off at an ultra early 12.00pm to accommodate Bedians flight arrangements. The Ramsey club has many big days in its history and this Saturday would well be an addition to the list. After ten years of competing in the English Clubs Championship, this season Ramsey are on the cusp of winning their first ever league title. They have two games left to play and need just a single point to be crowned champions. Their nearest rivals are Ellsemere Port and should they fail to win with a try bonus point away at Ruskin Park, Ramsey could also be crowned champions such is the size of their lead. The difference between the two is fifteen points and Ramsey’s final game on 13th April is away at Ellesmere which could be a huge game if the title isn’t won on Saturday.
Ramsey won the away leg 27-5 back in December when an Ali Trace brace did all the damage. Trace is however unlikely to be involved this week, nor is the injured stand off Fintan Cummins. Those two are however the only reported injury concerns for Ramsey who are expected to have Eddie Lord and Anthony Fergusson both available in the second row plus Mark Oldfield is also fit again and ready to take up a role in either the back row or the centre depending on how the selectors cope with Cummins’ absence.
There’s an option to move leading try scorer Daniel Bonwick into the ten jersey and play Oldfield in the centres however Scott Kneale is equally capable of switching from nine to ten and allowing youngster Dan Richmond a start at scrum half. The permutations will no doubt be worked on during training in the week and a final team announcement is expected late on Thursday.
Whatever the outcome of the match it will be a busy day at the Mooragh with the club holding its annual ladies day and unveiling its new electronic scoreboard which is dedicated to the late Jim Duncan who was a fervent supporter of the club. Jim’s wife Caroline will be performing the unveiling duties shortly before kick off.
Southern Nomads to be crowned Shimmin Wilson Manx Shield champions
PDMS Southern Nomads tidy up the Shimmin Wilson Manx Shield this weekend with a visit to Vagabonds B for their final Shield game this season. The trophy is already in the bag for Nomads who are unbeaten in the competition and they’ll look for a double helping of silverware when they meet Douglas Celts in the Manx Trophy final at Port-e-Chee the following week.
Western Vikings host Castletown in Shimmin Wilson Manx Plate
Plate leaders Western Vikings host Castletown at QE2 knowing that a win will all but take Castletown out of the competition and give Vikings a foot in the final. Sadly three postponed games from earlier in the season may mean that the Plate final will have to be moved however as Ramsey B, and Emerging Nomads are both still capable of qualifying. Town play Ramsey the following weekend which may assist the picture.
Vikings were fairly resilient at the Mooragh Park last Saturday and clung on to see off a late challenge from Ramsey B who led at half time. Alex Gibson and Danny Howard were both outstanding for the Peel men which Ollie Creasey was also very effective but slipped under everyone’s radar. Town were unstoppable at Vagabonds two weeks ago in their last outing and won 51-13 but will need to up their game to take Vikings.
Fixtures 6 April
North One West
Douglas v Burnage
Ramsey v Old Bedians @ Mooragh Park
Oxton Parkonians v Vagabonds
Shimmin Wilson Manx Shield
Vagabonds B v PDMS Southern Nomads
Shimmin Wilson Manx Plate
Western Vikings v Castletown