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Rugby: Douglas prepare to face Wilmslow

Four-way battle for Manx Plate also continues

Report by Dave Christian:

 

Wilmslow’s last visit to Port-e-Chee in October 2019 produced a seventy-two point bonanza of a match that the home team edged by just four points. The visitors had slipped back down to North One West from Premier North after a season that highlighted the gap between the two Divisions, and Douglas were embarking on a third season in NW1. Currently in 12th with two rounds in hand

over Wilmslow in 11th, Douglas would like to reproduce more of the form that saw them within a whisker of beating Wilmslow on their own patch in November.

Both had tough rounds last week, with Wilmslow hosting unbeaten league leaders Stockport, and Douglas at Waterloo where injuries and unavailability really took a toll. If the physio room is emptied in time and coaches Phil Cringle and Tom Waterworth are faced with a full squad, the selection process will be tricky. The loss of Seth Waterworth is a blow, as is the temporary absence of promising prop-forward Owen Carvin and Will Cain returning on crutches from Waterloo. With Glyn Hooson-Owen possibly sidelined with an arm injury, there will be a juggling of positions to accommodate the return of Robert Todd, Craig McGee, Carl Markl-Ferns and Harry Hewson to strengthen the home challenge. Harry Raven covers all rows of the scrum, and youngsters John Dutnall, Nathan Hinks and Thomas Coleman are likely to hold their places in the squad. Outside the forwards, Luke Hyland, Harry Swayne, Kyle Martin, Charlie Henthorn and Craig Martin will be polishing their boots.

 

Vagas Ladies host Chester Devas

With a string of consecutive fixtures, Vagas Ladies are slowly creeping up the Women’s NC1 North West table. They’re up to fifth and a home win against sixth place Chester would put them fourth. Leaders Preston Grasshoppers are pretty much uncatchable but with a fair wind, Vagas could snatch a top three finish. Chester have won two from seven while Vagas have won two from eight, but have also drawn two. This means this could be a very close game, although a dip into the scoring stats show Chester have only scored 22 points in their seven matches and a further scratch shows that one of their two wins was a walkover. With home advantage Vagas must start as favourites too.

There were no reported injuries following last week’s win against Halifax, so Vagas look like going into this one with a full strength squad. The main playmakers Corrina Daly, Jules Harrison and Lauren Ellison will no doubt be pulling the strings but Emily Webb was solid last week at full back and prop Jess Swales got on the scoresheet too so there’s plenty of depth available.

 

The heat is on in Ravenscroft Manx Plate

With the cup competition taking a week off, attention focusses on the Manx Plate which is turning into quite a nice four way battle. After three rounds of matches Vagabonds Hornets and Western Vikings are tied at the top on eleven points with two wins from three. Tucked in behind though are Ramsey B and Emerging Nomads who are both on six points. This weekend though will help sort the wheat from the chaff with Vagabonds travelling to Western Vikings and Ramsey heading south to face Emerging Nomads in two ties which could create some obvious gaps in the standings.

The Hornets have slipped up just once, losing to Ramsey B at the Mooragh. That aside their youth and experience blend is working well for them and crucially, they’ve beaten Vikings each time they’ve met so far this season, albeit by small margins. Vikings at home though will be a tough nut to crack. Vikings skipper Ed Knight can play forwards or backs and inspires his team no matter where he starts and the smaller QE2 pitch suits their direct style of play.

At Ballakilley Park Ramsey B will attempt to emulate their first team who won last week. There are a number of injured players who may be looking to come back this weekend. Eddie Lord hasn’t played since mid November and Josh Corteen has been out for over a month. Two new Ramsey signings could also get starts. Paul Carine looks competent on the flank and Matthew Reed could come in at wing or full back.

On paper though, it Vagabonds should take the points at Peel and at Ballakilley it should be a Nomads win.

**

 

Fixtures 12 March

North One West

Douglas v Wilmslow @ Port-e-Chee ko provisionally at 1.45pm

Womens NC1 North West

Vagabonds v Chester Devas @ Ballafletcher ko 2.00pm

Ravenscroft Manx Plate

Western Vikings v Vagabonds Hornets @ QE2 ko 2.15pm

Emerging Nomads v Ramsey B @ Ballakilley Park ko 2.15pm

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