Catch-up weekend in Manx Cup and Plate
After a short Easter break, the domestic rugby season moves closer to its sharp end with two fixtures in the Ravenscroft Manx Cup and Plate this weekend.
Both were postponed from earlier in the campaign. In the cup, Ramsey travel to Sure Vagabonds for something of a dead rubber in terms of the competition, but try telling that to the players.
Ramsey have already qualified for the May 14 final and Vagas will play Southern Nomads away in the semi-finals, regardless of the result, but the game is key for both teams in preparation for what lies ahead.
The northerners’ fire power out wide in Danny Howard and Brandon Atchison will pose a threat for Vagas - Ramsey have won all four encounters so far this season and Vagas will desperately want to improve on that.
Cam Findlay is back for Vagas and his kicking will be a key for them. In their pack, Matt Rockwell has been the standout player this season simply for his consistent and committed performances, and he will need to be at his best for this game.
In the Plate, things couldn’t be tighter. Vagabonds Hornets are confirmed with a home semi-final but the result of this Ramsey B v Western Vikings tie will determine who they play.
A Vikings win with four or more tries will see them take top slot and give them a home semi. Whether they play Ramsey again or Emerging Nomads will depend on whether Ramsey pick up any bonus points.
One or more will see them go ahead of Emerging Nomads, but a Ramsey win could see them secure a home semi-final depending on Vikings picking up bonus points.
Ramsey captain Neil Hulme will have his work cut out though as he will be conscious of first team demands on his players and his squad may suffer.
Former first team captain Eddie Lord could be a useful acquisition for him. The versatile second row can also play in the back row or centre if need be and could give some additional experience to the squad, alongside youngsters like Ross Quayle.
Vikings though have their own blend of youth and experience. Toby Poole-Wilson in the 10 jersey looks a good prospect, while the Goodwin brothers give solidity in the forwards. On paper at least, this game could go either way.
Fixtures for Saturday, April 23:
North One West
Douglas v Vale of Lune @ Port-e-Chee ko tbc
Ravenscroft Manx Cup
Sure Vagabonds v Ramsey
@ Ballafletcher ko 2.15pm
Ravenscroft Manx Plate
Ramsey B v Western Vikings
@ Mooragh Park ko 2.15pm
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