Jersey Reds face their toughest assignment of the season so far when they travel to Ealing Trailfinders this weekend. The Londoners have been one of the stand-out sides in the division this season to date, with four straight wins and a honourable defeat against Bristol last Sunday, having made the favourites for promotion work hard for their win at Ashton Gate.
The Reds are looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats against Richmond and Bedford Blues, knowing that they fell short of the required standards in each outing. The challenge is a mighty one given Trailfinders' good form and dominant record in Championship meetings with the Island side.
Having shadowed each other's upward progress in the RFU league pyramid during the 'noughties', the two clubs first met in 2010 and have been in the same league for six of the last eight seasons. The Reds won three of the duo's four National League encounters from 2010-12, but the Londoners have had the better of it at Championship level, with five wins from six games.
Jersey's only Championship win over Trailfinders was the 35-7 success at St Peter in November 2015; all three Championship visits to Vallis Way have ended in defeat, and the Reds most recent win in W13 was by 16-24 in the National 1 encounter in January 2012.
After missing out by 13-15 to the Blues at Stade Santander International last Saturday - the Reds' fifth consecutive league match featuring a margin of victory/defeat in single figures - Head Coach Harvey Biljon makes six changes to his starting XV.
Prop Roy Godfrey and hooker Nick Selway are selected in the front row in place of Jake Woolmore and Jared Saunders, while Dave McKern starts at lock ahead of James Voss. Seb Nagle-Taylor and Rory Bartle come in to join Rory Pitman in the back row, with Matt Rogerson dropping to the bench alongside fellow forwards Voss, Woolmore, Jack Macfarlane and Alec Clarey, the last-named in line for his competitive debut for the Reds after picking up an injury in the pre-season match against Coventry.
Although the back-line remains intact from numbers 10-15 inclusive, Joel Dudley is handed an opportunity at scrum-half, with Kieran Hardy dropping to the bench - the Welshman and Ellis Abrahams cover replacement options for the backs.
For the second week running the Reds are likely to encounter a significant number of former team-mates, with fly-half Aaron Penberthy, centre Lewis Robling and prop Mark Tampin all on the books at Vallis Way and involved in last weekend's match at Bristol.
The encounter marks the sixth and final game for each club in the first phase of this season's Greene King IPA Championship, which will then take a three-week break, the Reds resuming with another teak-tough test as Bristol visit the Island on Saturday October 28th (k-o 3pm).
Prior to hosting Bristol at the end of the month, the Reds will embark on their 2017/18 British & Irish Cup campaign, which kicks off with the Friday Night Lights clash against Yorkshire Carnegie at Stade Santander International on October 13th.
There is no game for Jersey Reds Athletic this weekend, however the club's women's team will be in action when they start their season with a trip to Old Oakmeadians that marks a return to league competition after a season's re-grouping. There'll also be rugby with an avowedly old-school flavour action back on the Island, as Jersey's annual Veterans Super 10's tournament marks its 20th anniversary
Jersey Reds squad v Ealing Trailfinders (A) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 6/22, Saturday October 6th, Trailfinders Sports Club, Vallis Way, London W13; k-o 3pm
Roy Godfrey (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Jake Woolmore, Alec Clarey, James Voss, Matt Rogerson; Kieran Hardy, Ellis Abrahams
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