Weymouth coach looking to keep up party spirit

FITNESS TEST: Nick Sheppard

FITNESS TEST: Nick Sheppard

First published in Rugby by

PAUL Harding aims to celebrate Weymouth’s 140th anniversary with victory over Ivel Barbarians tomorrow (2.30pm).

The Monmouth Avenue outfit are gearing up for a day of festivities to mark the impressive milestone, including the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by South Dorset MP Richard Drax.

While delighted to toast the club’s 140th birthday, head coach Harding remains focused on maintaining the nine-point gap at the Dorset & Wilts One South summit.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s visit of fifth-placed Ivel, he said: “It’s going to be a big day for the club. There will be a good crowd and a good atmosphere, hopefully we will make it even more special by getting a result.

“But it’s going to be a tough one, so we need to go into it with the right attitude. We lost narrowly at their place in December but it was a game we should have won.

“Every time we play, and get a positive result, we are narrowing the chances of Warminster catching us up, which is what we have to do.”

Gary Hamlin and Adam Hoxey could return to the fold but Simon Dean (shoulder) is expected to miss out while Nick Sheppard faces a late fitness test.

Dorchester head coach Martin Oxland is keen to see his men maintain their grip on fourth spot by beating rock-bottom Melksham at Coburg Road (2.30pm).

He said: “We’ve now got two consecutive home fixtures and we’ll be looking to consolidate our league position.

“The first is against Melksham and although they sit at the foot of the table we can’t afford to be complacent as they proved to be stern opposition in the away fixture before Christmas.

“We will need to get back to defending with more aggression and organisation while continuing to execute our game plan in attack.

“However, the result at Frome (a 36-32 win) should give the team confidence going into this game.

“With five games to go it’s important we aim to gain maximum points tomorrow so we can continue to challenge for a top-four finish.

“We have a few injury concerns from last weekend, which will provide opportunities for others who have put in consistent performances for the second team this season.”

Bridport will be looking to climb the table once more following their trip to Frome Seconds (2.30pm).

Last weekend’s results, including a 52-24 defeat to rivals Weymouth, saw the Blues drop to seventh in Dorset & Wilts One South.

But with Frome struggling at the wrong end of the table, head coach Mark Botten is eyeing back-to-back victories on the road.

He said: “Frome are second from bottom so we’re hoping to get something from the game.

“The league’s very tight at the moment and after last weekend we’ve dropped from fifth to seventh.

“If you can pick up some points away from home it really helps push you up the table.”

Botten is hoping to welcome back Luke King and Dave Blakesley for tomorrow’s game.

In Dorset & Wilts Two South, Puddletown visit third-bottom Fordingbridge Seconds (2.30pm).

The Villagers remain third in the table and despite winning their last encounter with tomorrow’s hosts, 18-0, the Hampshire outfit proved they can be tough opposition.

Elsewhere, Swanage & Wareham welcome Marlow to Bestwall for a South West One East enco-unter (2.30pm).

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