A MASSIVE weekend of rugby at Fort Matilda kicks off tomorrow at 3pm when Greenock Wanderers host old adversaries Ardrossan Academicals in the final west coast derby of the season, when the sides go head to head in the BT National League Second Division.

It has been a disappointing campaign for both clubs this term and they find themselves at the bottom end of the league well adrift of the sides in the middle order of the table.

The reality is that Livingston and Haddington will be relegated at the end of the season but both tomorrow’s combatants are all too well aware that it could well be them that face the drop at this stage next term if they do not improve rapidly over the close season.

The Ayrshire men are currently languishing in 10th place in the league, one point and one place beneath Wanderers, but they have a game in hand against Livingston, which if won, would allow them to leapfrog their old rivals and give them the same played 17 and won four statistics as the locals.

The derby fixture between the sides is always keenly contested and the earlier tie between the teams in November saw Wanderers edge home 23-22 in a Brendan McGroarty-inspired victory that did much to lift the Greenock men out of the doldrums at the time.

The word from Memorial Field that day was that it was an injury-ravaged Ardrossan side that was patched together to face their old rivals and with somewhere in the region of 11 regular players missing the result takes on a less than impressive veneer for the locals.

They can however quash all doubts about that victory tomorrow by posting a confident, positive and winning performance that would result in doing the double over their old foes for the first time in several seasons.

As always the key factor in any decent Wanderers performance this season will be in ensuring that the strongest possible side is selected and properly prepared for the task ahead.

Coaching team Graham Knox and Ally Hunter have struggled with availability this term but have worked wonders with the meagre resources they have had at their disposal and they, more than most, can take the plaudits for Wanderers successfully holding onto their second division status ahead of next season’s campaign.

The good news for tomorrow’s clash is that Wanderers have pretty much a clean bill of health and have a sizeable squad to choose from. Matt Gray, Leigh Tyley, Kenny Diffenthal, Martin Lavelle and Gregor Fletcher to name but a few, who were all missing last week are available, are ready and raring to go for this one.

Skipper Murray McDonald remains at prop forward where he joins last weeks try scorer Liam Campbell and Andy Love, Anton Ward and Martin Lavelle will form the break-away trio this week and engage in what promises to be a highly competitive battle at the breakdown. Behind the scrum Wanderers have a familiar look with Andy McDougall and Diffenthal at half-back and Michael Frizzel and Callum Harrison at centre three-quarter.

If these key partnerships function at their optimum level then Wanderers chances of victory increase significantly.

The back three of Tyley, Chris McCarron and Fletcher, below, are highly capable and speedy in attack and they will relish the chance of having a crack at the visiting defence if some decent front foot possession comes their way.

President John McDougall said: “The west coast derby is a standalone fixture and we have a great and historic rivalry with both teams always keen to take the spoils whenever we face each other.

“Having won at Memorial Field earlier in the season we believe we can go on and win tomorrow and by doing so hopefully cement a ninth place finish in the table.

“It promises to be a typically tough derby game and I hope our members and spectators get down in numbers to lend their vocal support and encouragement to our efforts.” The match will be fiercely contested and in true derby fashion is too close to call.

Wanderers have home advantage but Ardrossan’s recent results have been better which may give them the slight edge.

Much will depend on which side manages to put out their strongest team and with Wanderers selecting what is probably their best side there is a real opportunity for the locals to register what would be only their fifth win of the campaign.

Elsewhere at Fort Matilda the jam-packed afternoon’s entertainment continues with the usual large pre-match corporate lunch for sponsors and guests and the 2nd XV will face title favourites Marr in a Reserve League West First Division encounter on the small pitch.

The competitive action runs into Sunday with the Ladies’ side hosting a Tri-team tournament during the afternoon when Caithness and Annan will provide the opposition.

The competition is scheduled to start at noon but prospective spectators should confirm arrangements on the Greenock Wanderers Ladies Facebook page prior to attending.

Wanderers are sponsored by Texas Instruments.