Vagabonds head to league leaders Ashton-under-Lyne in Counties Four ADM Lancs/Cheshire this Saturday afternoon.

This coincides with the beginning of the annual Christmas party season which historically never produces good results for the travelling team.

Ashton are one point clear at the top of the table but only five ahead of Vagas with a game in hand. Theoretically, Vagas could take top spot but, with second place Colne & Nelson playing a home tie against bottom club Blackpool, it seems unlikely.

The RFU computer shows this as the first meeting between the two clubs too so there’s no historic form to look at.

Much will depend on the Vagas travelling squad. Injury to Matty Williams and unavailability from Will Taylor suggests Vagas may need Mark Oldfield to deputise at scrum half and there’s a possibility Mitch Wells may not be available too which will put Jack Caine into the front row frame.

More positive news is that Dan Bonwick should return after a knock he picked up at work. If the team is at full-strength, Vagas may pull off a big result here, but anything less could see them drop points to the two sides above them.

Vikings host Barbarians in Manx Shield

With no firm news from Cheshire RFU just yet, possible Cheshire Plate finalists Western Vikings host the IOM Barbarians at QEII HIgh School.

Vikings sit in second place in the standings and a win here could see them tied at the top with Ramsey who have a game in hand. The Barbarians picked up their first win last week so will be keen to build on that. Expect a big scoreline here as both teams will be keen to keep their momentum building.

Ramsey away

at Dukinfield

Ramsey are keen to keep momentum too and had arranged to play Manchester Medics this weekend in a full-on friendly.

But college pitches are fickle creatures and Medics lost theirs on Monday as the area struggles to recover from last weekend’s weather. Fortunately, Dukinfield stepped in at the last minute and Ramsey’s air fares aren’t wasted.

The Manchester outfit play in the league above Vagabonds and indeed beat Vagas 45-3 in the Cheshire Bowl. They were due to play Orrell this week in a league match but a late re-arrangement left them gameless. They won’t be at full strength for this game but should give Ramsey a decent test.

There are no injury worries in the Ramsey squad ahead of the game.