Ealing Trailfinders RFC completed their pre season games in emphatic style against an Esher XV at Vallis Way on Saturday, beating the Championship side by 52 points to 20.
After the game Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore commented on his sides pre season and their aims for the new season. He said "I am pleased where we are at the moment. Both teams on Saturday played well and have given me some interesting selection decisions. We have retained the majority of the squad from last season and added some good players where we needed strengthening and I am looking forward to starting our league campaign this weekend away to Lydney. Our goal this season like all others prior is to perform well in every game we play in and in doing so looking to be in the promotion mix at the end of the season."
Ealing’s other pre season games have seen them beat Readingensians 45-12 and Loughborough 53-12.
The West London side finished in 3rd place in National 2 south last season, scoring over 1000 points and boasting the league’s top scorer in flying wing Phil Chesters. The squad are looking good, with the majority of players who played last season re signing for the current campaign. There have been several additions to the squad whom Mike Cudmore believes will add to the Vallis Ways league title credentials.
Matt Evans has joined from Championship side Cornish Pirates, he plays either second row or back row, whilst Esher pair, back row Lee Starling and centre Neil Hallet also add some experience to the squad. Crowd favourites Phil Chesters and last season’s supporters player-of-the-season Pete Hodgkinson will also be back at Vallis Way for the new season.
Ealing Trailfinders begin their league season next Saturday, 4th September, with a tricky away trip to the Forest of Dean and Lydney RFC.
Hooker Jon Moyce said that pre season has been exceptional and they will expect a tough forward battle at Regentsholme "Pre season has been very professional, I feel every player in the squad is prepared for national league rugby. The depth within the squad has caused many selection problems but this only improves players performance. The new signings have fitted in very well, new talent and ideas has improved the game plan and the ability to play the style we want. I feel Richmond and Jersey will be an area of concern as they have signed some strong players. But if we stick to are game and play the patterns we know then we should outplay any team in the league. Every player is very excited about the first league game, are game plan is to bring home five points and send a message to the rest of the teams in the league".
The following weekend, local rivals Richmond are the visitors to Vallis Way for a day of rugby between the clubs. Ealing’s Vets side, the Evergreens begin proceedings at 11.30am against their contemporaries, the Richmond Heavies. The clubs 2nd XV play Richmond 2nd XV at 1pm whilst the main course, the league game, kicks off at 3pm.
Fly half Ben Ward is aware that the league will be tough, but also feels that they have have prepared well: "Pre season has gone well. We have kept virtually everyone from last season and added some quality players on top of that. We will be looking to go to Lydney this weekend and put in a good performance. After that we will be able to see where we are at and it will tell us more about how our pre season has gone. It’s a very tough league this year with teams such as Jersey, Richmond and Taunton especially adding to their squads considerably. Other teams such as Henley, Southend and Clifton have all strengthened and there is no such thing as an easy five points anymore. We have a good squad and hopefully with some good performances and a bit of luck can be in with a good chance come the end of the season."
National 2 South will have a different look to it this season. Champions Barking and play off winners Rosslyn Park have been promoted to National 2. They have been replaced by some new names to many at Vallis Way. Coming down from National 2 are Newbury RFC , whilst joining them are league as Champions from National 3 are Jersey RFC, whilst old friends from London 1 Old Albanians also make up the numbers as play off winners. Taunton were champions of South West 3 , and Hinckley RFC are leveled transferred from the Midlands.
The early expectations for favourites come down to the teams who have strengthened over the summer. Newcomers Jersey will present a difficult place to go and win, whilst Taunton and Old Albanians will test many teams. Other teams to watch out for could be Worthing, Southend and Henley.
Local rivals and visitors to Vallis Way on the 11th September Richmond have also strengthened over the summer, with Ex Oxford University director of Rugby Steve Hill arriving at the Athletic Ground with many faces familiar to him from the Varsity side’s he coached. They have added an influx of players and will represent a stern test to Mike Cudmore’s men as they attempt to go one better on the previous two seasons and clinch the automatic promotion spot to National 1.