8:10am Friday 12th April 2013
By David Williams
DORCHESTER’S Coburg Road hosts the second Ridgeway derby of the season tomorrow (3pm) with Weymouth, playing their last game of the campaign, going all out to prevent the home side completing a Southern Counties South double.
Local bragging rights will again be up for grabs as Martin Oxland’s Dorchester bid to follow up a 34-15 triumph against their rivals on the opening day of the season with another success.
Both clubs suffered heavy defeats last time out – Dorchester lost 37-7 at Wootton Bassett and Weymouth were thrashed 81-3 by champions Devizes – so Oxland and Weymouth counterpart Paul Harding will be keen to see a reaction from their players.
For Weymouth, tomorrow’s encoun-ter marks the last competitive game at the club for fly-half Nick Sheppard before he goes to university, while back rower Harry Charles, out through injury for the last three months, is also off to higher education.
And Harding is eager for his side to end their season on a high and give Sheppard and Charles a good league send-off.
“I think it was a one-off against Devizes,” said Harding. “It was the first time we’ve played like that since I took over and I think it was just a case of who we were playing and what was coming up after it.
“The guys were disappointed but had a very positive training session on Tuesday and our only focus now is on the last game of the season which will be Nick’s last competitive match for us.
“He has done a fantastic job over the last two years and we wish him all the best for university. Harry is going away to study as well and it’s just a shame he hasn’t been available for the last three months because of injury.
“Both of them have been part of the success of this club and I’d like to thank them for their efforts.
“Nick has been 110 percent committed and we will miss him. He has been our best fly half and done a really good job and I hope he has a great game tomorrow and goes out on a high.
“The both of them have been great. They pitched up at the club and were not sure if it was for them but after a few training sessions they both became integral to our success.”
He added: “Everyone wants to play in this fixture and I’ve had to drop a few players into the seconds.
“That level of interest is great and if we could have that for every game we would be laughing.
“I said before we played them at the start of the season that I wasn’t so interested in the result, I just wanted to see where we were as a team in the context of this league and how much work we had to do.
“This time I will be able to see if we have improved or not.
“I’m always 100 per cent confident in the players’ ability and I think this is a game we can be very competitive in, and if we play at our best we can get a result.”
Prop Tim Comben and full-back Mike Robinson faced fitness tests last night but captain Julian Quick is back, as is Sam Morris and Craig Barter while Will Eckersley and James Ford are on the bench.
Puddletown travel to champions elect East Dorset (3pm) in their final Dorset & Wilts Two South fixture of the season still believing there is a chance of regaining the fourth place they lost to Dorchester Seconds in last weekend’s local derby.
“Games between us and East Dorset always seem to be really close and that, together with the pressure they’ll undoubtedly put on themselves to finish the season unbeaten, might just work in our favour,” said Villagers’ spokesman Geoff Puryer.
“If we do win and Dorchester slip-up against Frome Seconds then we would move back ahead of them.
“Either way we’re under no pressure. All we can do is take our strongest squad over to Christchurch and give it our best shot then whatever the outcome we’ll congratulate the new champions and join in the celebrations.”
Elsewhere in the same division, Weymouth Seconds round off their campaign at home to New Milton Seconds.
There is a basement battle in South West One East where relegated Swanage & Wareham can climb off the bottom with a win at home against High Wycombe (2.30pm).
Meanwhile, Dorchester Ladies have any away friendly against Bridgewater on Sunday with team manager Jeanette Thompson giving new players the opportunity to step up to the mark.
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