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Rugby Previews: Dorchester look for Devizes response
DORCHESTER’S credentials are set to be put to the test tomorrow when they face Southern Counties South leaders Devizes (2pm).
Coach Martin Oxland will be looking for a response from the county town side when they travel to Wiltshire following a disappointing 22-17 reverse at home to Walcot last Saturday as Devizes battled to a 31-18 victory at Frome.
If their meeting earlier in the season is anything to go by it should be a close encounter – Devizes ran out 13-11 winners in Dorset, four games into the new campaign.
But despite only having lost once all season, to Corsham on match day two, Devizes are just two points clear of Sher-borne at the top of the table with Dor-chester hot on the heels of fourth-placed Wimborne.
Dorchester cannot afford to make the same mistakes they were guilty of producing against Walcot as they let slip a promising lead to finish the game with only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
“Games between the two sides tend to be close but if we are to compete with a team that is on top of the league then it’s vital we keep our focus for the full 80 minutes,” said Oxland.
“Last week’s fixture was a good example of what can happen if we don’t. Being clinical and taking scoring opportunities when they arise will be key to putting the opposition under pressure on their own ground.
“If we match them for physicality then the chances to score will come. If we take our chances then we have to believe we can get something from the match.”
Meanwhile, Weymouth coach Paul Harding and his squad will be making full use of their weekend without a first-team game with some players on duty for the seconds and the rest working on their fitness.
Centre Joel Wilson, who turned out for the second XV in a 41-5 loss to Poole after the firsts’ match against Supermarine was postponed last Saturday, will join up with them again.
Wilson made a successful comeback against Poole following a long spell out with injury, something that Harding was understandably pleased with.
“Joel played his first game for a few months last Saturday and came through it okay which was a big positive,” said Harding.
“He will play for the seconds again as he feels his way back into it.
“Ryan Lewendon started training again this week and came through a strenuous session so it’s good to see him getting back into condition.
“It’s a shame we haven’t got a game this weekend but some of the guys are playing for the seconds and the rest will have a fitness purge to get them match sharp.”
Weymouth Seconds are away to Ellingham & Ringwood Seconds in Dorset & Wilts Two South while in the same division Dorchester Seconds host East Dorset, while Puddletown are without a game.
In Dorset & Wilts One South, Bridport host a mid-table clash against Salisbury Seconds tomorrow (2.30pm) as they bid to bounce back from a 35-19 defeat to Sherborne Seconds.
Skipper Ricky Stubbs’s side is one of four clubs separated by three points and if number eight Mike Pibworth can continue the form that saw him score a hat-trick at Sherborne then the Blues could move into the top four by the final whistle.
Elsewhere, Swanage & Wareham hope to climb off the foot of South West One East with a win over sixth-placed Salisbury (2.30pm).