Jersey Reds resume their Championship season in west London this weekend sensing that the scale of their challenge against Ealing Trailfinders may not be reflected by the current league table.
The third-placed Reds are just three points behind leaders Trailfinders, but know that their hosts are gunning for promotion to the Gallagher Premiership and are especially hard to beat on their home patch at Vallis Way.
Among the current crop of Championship clubs, the most recent league win at Vallis Way was achieved by Pirates on Christmas Eve 2016, since when the only away wins have been registered by clubs now in the top flight.
The Reds’ only league win at Vallis Way came back in National Two South in January 2011, but at Championship level they have defeated the Trailfinders just once in 12 attempts – the 35-7 home win in December 2015.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon makes three changes in personnel to his starting XV from the line-up which began the 32-17 win against Hartpury University at Stade Santander International a fortnight ago.
The lone forward change sees Roy Godfrey come in at loose-head for what will be his first start of the season, with James Flynn moving to the bench.
Rotation at scrum-half has seen James Mitchell and James Elliott start three league games apiece thus far, and Elliott will wear number 9 this weekend while Mitchell is on the bench. Meanwhile Brendan Owen returns at full-back, meaning Harry Simmons moves to the bench, where there is also a spot for on-loan prop Luke Yendle, who replaces Jack Higgins.
The game is part of a run of six games on successive weekends for the Reds, who have had a stop-start campaign so far. A home game against Cornish Pirates, currently second in the table, will be the next challenge for the Island side.
Jersey Reds Women will also be in action this weekend, taking on Pulborough at the Stade on Santander, with the game kicking off under lights at 4.30pm to accommodate the visitors’ flight schedule.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Ealing Trailfinders (A) – RFU Championship, Match 7/20, Trailfinders Sports Club, Vallis Way, Saturday November 20th 2021, k-o 2pm
Brendan Owen; Ryan Olowofela, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Sam Leeming, James Elliott; Roy Godfrey, TJ Harris, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Wesley White.
Eoghan Clarke, James Flynn, Luke Yendle, Alex Humfrey, Guy Thompson; James Mitchell, Tom Pittman, Harry Simmons.
03 Feb 2023
Home side look to improve poor record over London rivals