Preview to Ealing Trailfinders (H) 21.3.14


As one Fat Lady shuffled off the stage this week, another may be waiting in the wings.

After the death of famous foodie and TV presenter Clarissa Dickson Wright - half of the Two Fat Ladies combo - Ealing Trailfinders will hope to keep the large singing female at bay by completing the double over Jersey, their old rivals from National League days.

Trailfinders _rfc _logo

After a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful tussle with Bedford last weekend, and Jersey's win at Plymouth, Ealing are a dozen points adrift at the bottom of the Championship table, and if Jersey win and widen the gap, even the most optimistic home supporter may have to face up to a return to National One.

The Trailfinders opened their account in the Championship on the last day of November, after nine straight losses, and the game marked the final act of Ben Harvey's tenure as Jersey boss. Since then, Ealing have battled gamely, with another away win at Nottingham and a draw at Cornish Pirates. But they need a result at home, and they need it this Friday.

After a tough first season at level two in 2012/13 following promotion, Jersey know full well how tough it is at the higher level. But they should also be aware that Ealing will be fighting tooth-and-nail to defy the odds, and departing Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore (he announced in mid-season that he's stepping down in April) and his players would like nothing more than another Jersey scalp. The visitors will need to match this hunger in order to prevent this happening.

Jersey supporters were disappointed when it was confirmed the match would be a Friday night affair, kicking off at 7.45pm. This ruled out the prospect of a day-return trip, but it seems there will be a sizeable contingent heading over anyway to cheer on their side.

News from the Jersey camp

The Islanders could be without lock Dave Markham, who limped from the field at Plymouth, but could have Nick Campbell ready to return in his stead, and scrum-half Nicky Griffiths back in contention. The Jersey squad will be published on Friday at around 12noon.

Ealing in 2013/4

The club didn't sit still over the summer and recruited heavily on the playing side, while off the pitch Trailfinders helped bring facilities up to Championship level.

DoR Mike Cudmore, entering his 12th season at the club named Adam Preocanin as captain for the season - the lock joined early in the 2012/13, having previously been a member of the Saracens Academy and played for Queensland 'A' during a five-year sojourn Down Under.

Two new recruits were named as vice-captains: three-quarter Chris Kinloch, a former Scotland age-group and sevens player who played for Loughborough Students against Trailfinders - and Jersey - in National 1.

Thomas 'TJ' Anderson meanwhile crossed the Irish Sea from Connacht. He has previously played for Irish age-group sides and his home province of Ulster. His father is the legendary Willie Anderson, the former Ireland captain, and he also has a brother who is probably more famous in fashion circles than his sibling is in rugby - the fashion designer JW Anderson.

Also coming into the squad over the summer were former London Irish flanker Ed Siggery, wing Billy Robinson arrived from Moseley, Tom Bedford from Bedford Blues and flanker Sam Hocking from Plymouth Albion.

For Ealing's results to date this season, why not check out their well-appointed website HERE

A final one to watch is full-back Andrew Henderson. 'Hendo' is a player well known to Jersey fans and staff having scored nine tries in 30 appearances for the club in the 2010/11 season.

040 Andrew Henderson

He is now in his second season with Trailfinders and since the start of the club's debut season in the Greene King IPA Championship, his versatility has meant he has featured in the majority of the matches; first as wing, then in the centre and finally at full-back where his sureness under the high ball and swiftness of foot has allowed him to develop as a counter-attacking threat.

Hendo started his career at Newbury and then played for Rotherham before his move to the Channel Islands. He has punished Jersey before when tackling his former club - in March 2012 the Islanders succumbed to his late try for Barking and suffered their only defeat in a run of 24 games. Barking finished bottom of National One that season, but they also upset high-flying Ealing, and yes of course Hendo was on the score-sheet.

Any Previous?!

The quadrilogy of meetings between the two clubs during their National League co-habitation unfolded thus:

* In October 2010, Jersey scored four tries (Doherty, Penalty, Trower and Hannay), with Phil Chesters (he scored a mind-blowing 70 tries that season) and Sungo Kawana responding for the visitors. It finished 32-18.

* In West London in February 2011 the Islanders completed a double, winning 0-15. These games were the only ones lost by Ealing all season. Donovan Sanders (two tries) and Mike Le Booj (two kicks) supplied Jersey's 15 points.

* In September 2011, Ealing became the first team to win in Jersey since the unlikely success by Tring two-and-a-half years previously in March 2009. Two tries by Owen Bruynseels and one by Phil Chesters underpinned a 15-26 win, with Jersey's tries from Steve O'Brien and replacements Ashley Maggs and Brendan O'Brien. Match report HERE

* On the first Saturday of 2012 in West London, Rory Damant's try helped the hosts to a 13-10 interval lead, Jersey having registered a penalty try and two Ross Broadfoot kicks. Dave McCormack grabbed an interception on the resumption, Guy Thompson added a second and Jersey finished 16-24 winners. Match report HERE

And in November last year Ealing registered their first win in the Championship at Jersey's expense. That man Chesters scored again, twice, there was a try for Tom Bedford and with the final play Chesters fed Jersey old boy Hendo for a run to the line, changing the margin of victory on match points from 1-4 to 0-5. Second rows Alex Rae and Nick Campbell scored for Jersey. Final score 18-28. Match report HERE

History of Ealing RFC

Ealing Football Club played its first match in 1869 on Ealing Common, prior to the founding of the RFU in 1871. The early years saw regular fixtures against the likes of Wasps, London Irish, Harlequins, Richmond and Blackheath.

Between 1894 and 1958 the club moved location numerous times and is now located at Trailfinders Sports Ground, just south of the A40 at the upper end of West Ealing. The Trailfinders Sports Club was acquired by the Mike Gooley Trailfinders Charity in 1997. Gooley is a former SAS soldier who set up travel company Trailfinders in 1970 and has been a committed and generous patron of the club which took on his company's name.

Ealing's centenary match was played against Harlequins in 1971. The 1970s and '80s saw Ealing playing a high standard of rugby and supplying many county level players for Middlesex.

In 1987 the club finished top of London Division 1 (level five) and over the next six years was never lower than 2nd in London 1 or higher than 10th in National 4. Ealing won the Middlesex Cup three times in this period.

In 1996 Ealing were relegated from London 1, but returned to this level during the 'noughties' and were promoted back to the national leagues in 2006/07.

Immediately competitive on their return to the national stage, Ealing finished third in three successive seasons, the third of which saw them tied with Rosslyn Park on 113 points each. Park had won more games, including the contests against Ealing by 31-24 and 9-8, and therefore took the play-off spot and ultimately won promotion.

In 2010/11 Trailfinders finally achieved the goal of promotion to Level Three, winning National Two South with a strong display of front running that eventually saw them edge Jersey by four points (132-128). The Islanders' good form meant Ealing couldn't afford to lose, and they rose to the occasion with nine straight wins, including 8-3 at Dings, 130-14 over Hinckley, a minor wobble at the penultimate hurdle before despatching Henley 35-25, and finally 127-19 over Lydney in front of 1,100 spectators at Vallis Way.

With Jersey also promoted following the play-off against Loughborough, the two sides went head-to-head in National One, with Rosslyn Park also jostling for supremacy during the mid-point of the season. Jersey got their noses in front after beating Park in mid-January and were never caught, although Ealing battled gamely and eventually finished second with 112 points, seven adrift of the champions.

Last season Ealing tore it up in National One, winning the title at a canter with 128 points, 19 clear of runners-up Esher, to seal promotion to the Championship.

Following the game

Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Ealing v Jersey through the following channels:

• Live Commentary on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday evening from 7pm, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online and on your transistor-wireless device).
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and match report - hold the back page - in Saturday's paper, available from 7am
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Reports and match action on Channel TV online and on Monday evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at 6.30pm

The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend

They'll be going at it hammer-and-tongs at Headingley on Sunday, with play-off hopefuls Leeds and Bristol going head-to-head. Leeds have home advantage, Bristol the knowledge that a win could put them out of reach of the Yorkshiremen.

Rotherham and London Welsh will look to make up ground on whoever loses at Headingley by winning at home to Plymouth and Bedford respectively. London Scottish will be hoping one or both slip up, and to capitalise with a win at Moseley - anything else could signal the end of the Exiles' play-off chances.

In the final game, the Pirates host Nottingham at the Mennaye Field on Sunday.

Saturday March 22
Moseley v London Scottish 15:00
Rotherham Titans v Plymouth Albion15:00

Sunday March 23
Cornish Pirates v Nottingham Rugby 15:00
Leeds Carnegie v Bristol Rugby 15:00
London Welsh v Bedford Blues 14:30?

And finally

Jersey will also take on Ealing at second team level, with Jersey Athletic meeting Ealing's Development XV. Sadly it wasn't possible to have the games on the same Island as the 1st XV games in November and March, so the Zoo Sports Shield clash takes place at St Peter at 12noon. The other scheduled games involving Jersey sides are: a friendly between Panthers and Wanderers on Saturday at St Peter (KO also 12noon); Jersey II v Beeches on Sunday at St Peter (12.30); Banks v LQ Lydian Lions on Sunday at Grainville (1pm) and finally, after a good win at Lewes last weekend, the Banks Ladies travel to Newbury on Sunday.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Tom Innes

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