The Islanders are coming ashore…………….
Last Saturday Richmond travelled to Jersey for what was their second cup final in as many weeks, following Ealing’s victory at the Athletic Ground, they faced what many were saying would be a make or break game for the Surrey side in the Channel Islands.
Jersey were on the back of a week off from league action and talking to the Jersey Director of Rugby Ben Harvey earlier in the week, it was a week that he would probably have preferred a hard game, he said " .I don’t think the week off helped us really. Having one hard match after another is sometimes a help as your weaknesses are exposed and can be addressed. "
Indeed during the first period both teams were sparring and it was only after half time that the home side cut loose, maybe as a result of tired bodies on the Richmond front, they found themselves running on empty.
Jersey’s home record is impressive, stretching back almost two years, but as Ben Harvey said, coming to Vallis Way they are expecting a touch game .
"Home form is not unique to us. Yourselves for example have a terrific home record, so good sides will, more often than not, have good home records." He continued, possible some what tongue in cheek following the impressive win against Richmond, " We are expecting a very tough game. Ealing have proved to be a very strong team in this division for many years. Our away form has been inconsistent so going in to the game as clear underdogs".
So we arrived at the business end of the season, a win for either side can put some more daylight between us both and the chasing pack. Both teams have to travel to Albania to face an OA’s side that could still yet have a say in the outcome of the National 2 South title.
As we approach the weekend so the teams sit in 1st and 2nd place :
Ealing Trailfinders Played 20 Won 18 Points for 926 Points against 272 Tries scored 134
Jersey Played 19 Won 16 Points for 628 Points against 299 Tries scored 80
Ealing were visitors to the Channel Islands in October , in front of a crowd of 1350 passionate Islanders crashed to their only defeat of the season to date, and afterwards Ealing’s DoR Mike Cudmore described the game as such : he had few complaints, conceding that the better team had won, although he was disappointed that a losing bonus point had ultimately eluded his team. He said “We wanted something to show for it, but having said that, it wasn’t a cup final, just one game out of 30,”
So we arrive at game 21 of Ealing’s league season and with Phil Chesters National League try scoring record still fresh in the memory, the home crowd will hope for a dry day and plenty of running rugby on offer. Since the two sides met at Jersey’s Rue des Landes ground, today’s visitors have remained unbeaten at home, whilst their 3 defeats to date have come at the hands of 3 of the top 7 sides, Richmond (25-14) , Taunton (32-26) and Southend (33-25) . Can we read anything into this?
Naturally the home fans will point to the fact that Ealing have scored 78 tries at Vallis Way whilst Jersey have only managed 30 away from their Rue des Landes ground. Also in Ealing’s favour is the fact that they boost the meanest defence in the league conceding only 272 points and 13 tries at Vallis Way.
Ealing’s athletic second row Mat Evans ( his run through the heart of the Richmond backs at the Athletic Ground reminded me of a young Jake Edmunds in his prime!) is expecting a tough encounter this weekend , " We expect the Jersey game to be a huge encounter. The entire squad are fully focused on delivering a performance that can provide Ealing Trailfinders with the all-important win. Jersey are known for their powerful forwards, and we believe we can stop them in this area. We know as a side we underperformed in atrocious conditions when we played them in Jersey, we’ll aim to rectify this on Saturday. "
Mat continued , " The season to date has been fantastic, but I say this cautiously as we know there is a lot of tough rugby left in the season. The defence in the Richmond game was by some way the best all season. We had 14 men for a quarter of the game and still managed to hold out a team of Richmond’s quality. I must say, on behalf of the entire first team squad, thank you for the support at this game and the support throughout the season. We need you more than ever in the coming months. "
A history of Jersey RFC
Rugby has been played in Jersey since 1879 with breaks for war and the Nazi occupation but the modern era started when the club acquired the land for a permanent home near the airport in 1961; the original wooden clubhouse was built in 1964, its approximate location was in the middle of the Jersey Bowl car park. From the early 1970s, when tourism on the island was at its peak, Jersey attracted many of rugby’s top clubs who could combine a break from their regular fixtures with a game against the JRFC.
This period culminated with a very successful Centenary year in 1979, teams with international players came over to play and help celebrate this event – JPR Williams being one of the most famous! This decade left the club with an unequalled collection of plaques and memorabilia; teams coming from the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia (the beach guard connection) and Holland.
The current clubhouse was opened in September 1994 and corresponded approximately with the start of the leagues; then Jersey could not rely on random visiting sides and had to join the league in Hampshire. Our 1st XV has worked it’s way up to the National 2 South League but the travel costs are very high – JRFC relies heavily on functions and sponsorship to support this commitment.
In the summer of 2010 the new Lord Jersey Stand was built between the 1st XV pitch and the Airport Road and the Pavilion, with kitchen and bar, to the east of the main club facilities. This to provide amenities for the increasing number of spectators due to the success of the 1st XV.
Jersey in 2011
As we know only two well Jersey are no pushovers, undefeated at home, on the road as Ben Harvey said their " away form has been inconsistent ". Does this have a bearing on what many believe to be the game of the season. Ealing’s Mike Cudmore doubts it: " What has happened in the past has no reflection on this game. Both teams will be well prepared and know what is required. We are very proud of our home record and I will be looking for a huge performance from all to ensure that our home support and the team get what we want from this game" .
Last weekend, and we know Richmond were off the back of the encounter with Ealing, but Jersey very professionally dealt with the Surrey side in the second half, scoring two unanswered tries in the process.
So who are the danger men – Without a doubt the feared Jersey pack have a reputation that precedes them – Number 8 Nick Thrower and open side Steve O’Brien have 10 tries to their name already this season! Wing Ed Dawson has 13, and his colleague Dave Doherty, ex Sale, Leeds and Wasps wing has 8 tries after only a short spell with the club.
Full back Michael Le Bourgeois , what a grand Channel Island name, is their top points scorer, and is well know for his kicking, with 175 ( Neil Hallett has 272 to his name). So giving kickable penalties away with be of paramount importance to Ealing this weekend.
So we are in for a battle royal this coming weekend at Vallis Way – Remember kick of is 2pm ( NOT 3pm as usual) to allow them a quick get away back home after the game!
Entry is Free for Members, though a programme costs £3
Non Members entry is £10
Also playing are Ealing Evergreens vs London Irish at 12.30pm, and Ealing 2nds and Cougars at 2pm
Previous league encounters between Ealing Trailfinders & Jersey
23/10/10 Jersey 32 Ealing Trailfinders 18