Weekend rugby preview
Douglas away at Vale of Lune
Douglas face Vale of Lune this weekend in North One West with a run of five consecutive wins under their belts. Douglas sit fourth in the standings while Vale are in ninth. The Lancastrian outfit haven’t played since 19th October when they lost at home to Penrith, who Douglas beat away. The Manx side have also won at Vale before so the ground will hold no fear for them. As always there are some squad changes. Paul Leivers is unavailable in the second row but the return of Carl Murray in the back line will make up for that. Craig McGee fills in the forward gap and Murray takes Harry Hewson’s place in the back line but aside from that the squad is unchanged. This is a good omen for Douglas who’ll be aiming for maximum points and with third place Penrith away at Burnage, they could well pinch a place in the table.
Ramsey face Garstang
Struggling Ramsey face Garstang at the Mooragh Park this Saturday as the two sides meet in Lancs/Cheshire 1. The Manx outfit have lost all five of their opening games after being promoted last season but will be buoyed by Garstang’s form on the road with the Lancashire Club losing all three of their away games. The last home outing for Ramsey was a 22-5 defeat by Ellesmere Port but a scoreless second half suggests that Ramsey may be moving in the right direction, at least at the Mooragh.
Ramsey will be hoping for the return of some key players this weekend. John F Watling, Matty Meechan and Ben Harding all missed the away trip to Orrell and their availability will make a big difference. Utility forward Rory Nicholson has been struggling with an ankle injury so he remains a doubt while youngster Sam Corlett is a longer term absence after dislocating a shoulder three weeks ago. Last season’s star was Dan Bonwick and his inclusion would boost the squad too.
Garstang have been regular visitors to Ramsey in the past and their last visit in April 2018 ended in a defeat but still resulted in them winning the league that year. Ramsey skipper Eddie Lord will be hoping that is an omen as his side look for their first points of the season.
Vagabonds host Oxton Parkonians
Vagas top the table with one defeat from six, while Parkonians are in sixth place with one win from four. On paper at least Vagas should start as favourites. Its also a chance for them to stretch their lead with second place Port Sunlight on a free week and third and fourth playing each other. The squad should be at full strength bar perhaps Ross McCulloch who limped out of the Manx cup game a week ago. The Vagas pack will aim to dominate as they done in many games this season and they should take maximum points.
Manx Shield returns
After a week off for the World Cup Final, the Manx Shield returns with three fixtures. The pick of these is probably at Vagabonds where the newly rebranded Vagabonds Hornets meet Western Vikings. The Hornets had a good start and picked up wins in the first two rounds but have since slipped a little, while Vikings have won one of their opening games. Both clubs will be stretched a little this week and this should make for a close competition.
Elsewhere in the Shield Douglas Celts face Ramsey B at Port-e-Chee and a win should see them go top. The Celts are favourites for the title at the moment and while Ramsey will put up a valiant effort, they should be no match for a well drilled Celts side who have Cheshire ambitions as well as domestic. The final match this weekend is at King Williams College where Southern Nomads host Castletown in a southern derby. Castletown currently top the Shield standings with three wins from four but look likely to be knocked off their perch. Nomads showed well against Vagabonds in the Cup last week and should be too strong for Town.
Fixtures 9 November
North One West
Vale of Lune v Douglas @ Vale of Lune
Ramsey v Garstang @ Mooragh Park ko 1.30pm
Vagabonds v Oxton Parkonians @ Ballafletcher ko 1.30pm
Manx Shield all ko @ 2.15pm
Douglas Celts v Ramsey B @ Port-e-Chee
PDMS Southern Nomads v Castletown @ King Williams College
Vagabonds Hornets v Western Vikings @ Ballafletcher