For Ealing Trailfinders centre Tom Bedford Saturday’s opponents, Plymouth Albion are a team that he knows well and as such he is well aware of what a huge task he and his team mates face when they travel to his home county on Saturday.
Albion are on a run of five consecutive losses in the Greene King IPA Championship and the British and Irish Cup, but this week their head coach James Shanahan has given his charges the target of ending the season with a brace of wins, starting with Ealing.
“They’re a good Championship side,” Bedford said. “I know they’ve had their ups and downs the last couple of years, but they’ve really come on the last couple of years. They’ve had a new coach in and they’ve developed well.
“They’re a tough team to play against, especially at Brickfields. It will be a good challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
Albion’s home ground, Brickfields is a venue that the 25-year-old Bedford is no stranger to. Growing up in Exeter he and his family would regularly travel down the A38 to take in Devon derbies and after he started playing he has run out there for the likes of Exeter Chiefs, Bedford Blues and Cornish Pirates.
“It is a good rugby ground,” he said. “I remember going there when I was very young watching Exeter versus Plymouth and they used to get five, six, seven thousand.
“They’re struggling a bit with numbers now, but I know they have good support. It is a nice big pitch and the chance to play a bit of rugby, so should be enjoyable. They used to be some great games, big games and great crowds.”
Mike Cudmore’s side go into the match knowing that they can’t afford anymore slip-ups if they want to escape from the clutches of relegation.
Last Saturday they earned a bonus point win over Nottingham, which allied to their previous two fixtures means they’ve taken 10 points from their last three matches and so now sit three points behind Jersey who host London Scottish.
“We can win this weekend,” Bedford said. “It is a hell of a challenge for us to go down there and win, but I think we’re been playing knock-out rugby for the last few weeks, so it is nothing new for us. It is a big challenge and we will do our best to get the win.”