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Rugby Previews: Wilson returns for Weymouth
CENTRE Joel Wilson makes his long-awaited return from knee ligament damage tomorrow as Weymouth take on bottom side Supermarine in Southern Counties South (2.30pm).
The Swindon side, thrashed 76-0 by Paul Harding’s men earlier in the season, have won just once so far this term and the Weymouth head coach sees the fixture as the perfect time to reintroduce Wilson to the fold.
Wilson was the club’s player of the year in 2012 and had made a good start to the current campaign before he was injured against Walcot in mid-November.
Sean Murphy will provide cover on the bench if needed but Harding is thrilled to see Wilson back in action after more than two months on the sidelines.
“Having Joel back is a massive plus for us,” he told Echosport. “He has trained well in the last couple of weeks so we are going to try him out against Supermarine.
“He is a terrific player and was really on form when he got injured so hopefully he can carry on where he left off.
“It’s a good game to bring him back and had it been one of the top three or four sides we may have looked at it slightly differently.
“But it’s important he doesn’t come back half-heartedly and really goes for it.”
Sam Morris’s bad back sees him miss out but Harry Charles returns to the back row and Mike Robinson moves to the centre to partner Wilson.
“This is a game we are definitely targeting to win,” added Harding. “They have not been going well but I don’t take anything for granted, especially away from home.
“But if we can put out the side we plan to then we should be good enough to come back with the points.
“When we beat them earlier this season we’d already lost the first couple of games so hopefully if we can win this one it can set us off on a nice little run.”
However, the match is in doubt as the Supermarine pitch was still under snow yesterday while Weymouth Seconds are home to Poole in Dorset & Wilts Two South.
Also in Southern Counties South, Dorchester welcome Walcot to Coberg Road (2.30pm) as the hosts go for three wins in a row.
The visitors are in the lower reaches of the division with only three wins but Dorchester team manager Andy Haworth is not expecting an easy ride.
“Everybody in this league is capable of an upset and we only just sneaked past them at their place so I’m sure they will have a real go,” he said.
“The bad weather has disrupted our preparations but that is the same for every team and we will just have to make the best of it.”
Dorchester’s postponed game last weekend at Devizes has been rearranged for February 2 while tomorrow the club’s second XV goes to Ellingham & Ringwood Seconds in Dorset & Wilts Two South.
In the same division, Puddletown, without a competitive fixture since mid-December, will be hoping conditions improve sufficiently enough for their trip to bottom-of-the-table Hampshire outfit Fordingbridge Seconds (2.30pm).
The corresponding fixture at Greenfields back in October resulted in a 60-14 win for the Villagers, who now have the chance of securing their first double of the season.
Bridport in fourth are the visitors to third-placed Sherborne Seconds in Dorset & Wilts One South (2.30pm) and in South West One East, Swanage & Wareham are looking to score their first point in nearly three hours of rugby when they visit Bletchley (2pm).