FOLLOWING the postponement of all three senior fixtures last weekend due to the torrential rain across the country, Greenock Wanderers’ first XV will take to the road for their away fixture with Aberdeenshire in BT National League 2 tomorrow.
Following their visit to Fort Matilda back in September, Aberdeenshire went home with the points after a 26-0 victory over a Greenock side hard pressed with injuries and an influx of less experienced young players.
The three-hour bus journey to Aberdeen, and an opposition bolstered by foreign imports, will certainly be a challenge, but on the plus side, a more confident Wanderers side will be boosted by the return of experienced players from injury.
Prop Liam Campbell returns to the first team after strong performances in the seconds.
His scrummaging power and ball carrying will be a big boost to the pack. Stalwart second row Matt Gray also returns following injury, and adds his considerable experience and lineout expertise.
This is hopefully an area Wanderers can look to dominate. Nathan Quirey continues to shine in training, with healthy competition between him and David Smith for the number seven shirt. Both have plenty of pace and commitment to winning the breakdown battle, a key area for the back row to target tomorrow.
Andy McDougall retains his place at scrum half. Vice-captain McDougall has been a standout performer this season so far, and hopefully he can put in another top performance.
An increasing number of second XV players are now forcing their way into the reckoning for first XV selection.
The Docherty brothers Fraser and Cameron have produced great performances for the reserves each week in the backline, and will be hoping, if given the chance, that they can show the same at first XV level. Up front, prop Scott Black and youngster Ruaridh McKillop are now pushing for places in the first team.
Looking further ahead, some of the under-18 Youth Academy players are now starting to join up with the senior squad at training on a Tuesday night and not are looking out of place.
The academy looks like it’s paying off in raising the skill levels of the emerging younger players, which bodes well for the longer term future of the club.
The second XV travel up to Glasgow for a West Reserve League fixture with GHA, a side eight places below top-placed Greenock in the table.
The under-18 side host Livingston in the only home game tomorrow. The away Youth Conference fixture back in October was abandoned following a serious injury, and the boys will be looking to post a convincing victory to finish their campaign.
It’s a big weekend for the club’s under-15 team as they look to complete their Youth Conference season unbeaten with a tie against Livingston at Fort Matilda. Wanderers inflicted a heavy defeat on Livingston in the away leg in October, and will be looking to repeat that performance on Sunday.
The team have trained well this week, even braving the gale force winds and rain at training in Wednesday night to ensure they are ready for Sunday’s big match.
They will be looking for big performances from captain Ross Maiden at centre, supported by the electric pace of Roy Jackson in a very talented backline.
Up front in the forwards, big performances will be required from standout hooker Rory Cameron and last week’s try-scoring prop Andrew Graham, with number eight Marco Zavaroni adding his robust ball carrying into the mix.
The under-16s also face Livingston, following an excellent morale-boosting victory over Dalziel last Sunday at home.
They welcome back Philip ‘tiny’ Bradley to the squad and will once again look to the ball carrying of Shay Grierson and Connor McCall to get the team on the front foot, with Max McFarlane and Drew Mitchell pulling the strings at half-back.