It’s round three of the Ravenscroft Manx Cup this Saturday and the results will determine who will play off for the Manx Cup and Plate on finals day which is April 22.
All four teams are mathematically capable of booking a cup berth so it’s a real nail-biter of a weekend.
The pre-tournament favourites are without doubt Douglas. They’ve won two from two and top the table. Just a single point from their game at Vagabonds on Saturday will be enough to see them through regardless of other results.
They also have to prevent Ramsey from scoring four tries or finishing within seven points as either would give Ramsey a bonus point or points. Plus they also need Douglas to beat Vagabonds with the latter picking up no bonus points.
For Ramsey and Vagabonds, the permutations are a little more complicated and there are a number of scenarios where either could get a place in the final depending on the result of the other game.
As expected, Douglas are the side to beat. They play at level six in the English Rugby pyramid and, while their form hasn’t been brilliant, the extra physicality they bring to the pitch has been more than a match for Ramsey and Southern Nomads.
They’ve been able to rest some of their key players too, with Bryn Snellgrove, Guy Wood and Niall Killey all settling for back-up or cameo roles. John Dutnall has led the side well on the field and Brendan Kelly has stepped up to the mark in the centre too.
Vagas have their own talent mind. Mark Oldfield is a proper warrior and the front five is pretty solid in the set piece. Douglas will have to work to grind them down but, on paper, should win.
This is the Isle of Man ‘old firm’ though and could put an extra spring in the Vagabond step.
At Ballakilley, Southern Nomads will host Ramsey. Nomads ran the northerners pretty close in a Cheshire Bowl game earlier in the season and won’t be at all swayed by the game.
They’re solid but mobile in the forwards and have some talented back line runners. Orry Watterson will no doubt be putting in the hard yards in the pack, with George Callister at nine trying to free up his backs.
Ramsey have a few injury worries: Dan Richmond and Kieran Kneale remain on the sick list and Nathan Robson isn’t available.
Raf Sinadjan may get the nod at nine, while Fintan Cummins and Nathan Brew will probably link up at 10/12 which proved so effective in the win against Vagabonds.
On paper this should be a Ramsey win but rule out Nomads at your peril. They have a big game in them yet this season.
Saturday, April 15:
Ravenscroft Manx Cup
Vagabonds v Douglas
@ Ballafletcher ko 2.15pm
PDMS Southern Nomads v Ramsey @ Ballakilley Park ko 2.15pm