This weekend Ealing Rugby Club welcomes 2nd placed Barking to Vallis Way for this top of the table clash in National 2 South.
With very little rugby being played due to the weather, neither team will be happy coming into a game like this on the back of little activity. Barking’s last outing was was on the 2nd January against a determined Canterbury outfit which ran them close whilst losing 17-13. The hero that day was fly half Craig Ratford who scored 7 points to take the Goresbrook side home to a narrow victory. Meanwhile Ealing were on their way to a four try victory against Richmond, and whilst not at their best, proved too much for their West London rivals.
It will on the day boil down to experience, and previous fixtures will have no relevance to what happens this weekend. As Director of Rugby, Mike Cudmore said ,"We are all looking forward to our return fixture against Barking this week. The team have come a long way since our previous meeting in September and all are relishing the challenge in front of them and looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd".
Barking RFC – A Short History
It all started in 1930 as Park Modern Old Boys. Park Modern was a rugby playing school in the borough and their first headmaster, Bill Easterby, decided that there was enough interest to form a senior side. The school grounds in Rosslyn Road were used in the early years before moving to Barking Park in the 1960’s. The Club continued under the Park Modern name until 1974 when it was no longer a strictly old boys’ team and became Barking Park Rugby Club, and two years later, changed to its current name Barking RUFC. In 1989 the Club moved to Goresbrook initially with two pitches one of which had floodlights enabling the Club to play and host evening matches. Training facilities were improved beyond recognition from the previous facilities and lighting at the school and park.
The two most prominent players being Club President Jason Leonard-OBE (England and British & Irish Lion) and Kris Chesney (England Sevens & Toulon). Other players include Glyn Llewellyn (Wales) and John Rudd (Newcastle Flacons and England Saxons). International Players of note who have also played for Barking are Jeff Probyn, John Buckton (England) Corrado Pilat (Italy), Sevanaia Rokobaro (Fiji) and Mathias Albina (Argentina).
What of the current crop of players? Well we know from our visit to Gorsebrook that coaches Alex Codling and Kevin Sorrell have put together a team that knows how to win games. There is plenty of experience in their squad, and they have taken each game one at a time.
Since the first meeting Barking have suffered financial difficulties and can no longer guarantee payments to their players.
Coach Codling feels that the shift of power may have changed as a result – "Pretty much the whole programme was wiped out at the weekend and we knew it would be by midweek" said the former England lock.
"We would rather have played, without question, because with Saturday’s game being called off, and the Lydney game before Christmas, it’s all been a bit stop-start lately.We now play Ealing, who are top by a point and it’s a big game for both sides. For us, our aim was never to win the league, but just to take every game as it comes."
However both sides are close to the summit, but the season has a long way to go, and teams like Rosslyn park and Clifton will have something to say in the destination of the league.
Fly half Craig Ratford is the guy who pulls the strings for the Eastenders, and so far he has amazed 146 points this season. Flanker James Kellard is top of the try scorers with 8 so far to his name, whilst he is followed by 3 players on 6 a piece , wings David Vincent and Nico Fraser and open side James Nagan. Lock Tim Collier tops the bad boy stakes with 3 yellow cards to his name.
If going into the game Mike Cudmore and his team are looking for a clink in the Barking armour, then their away record may offer one, they have won 5 of their 6 games, losing to Clifton 17-13 in the final minute, and have failed to collect those all important try scoring bonus points in 5 or their 6 away games so far! BUT they have still won 5 of the 6 games though.
We should expect a game of contrasting styles, the forward dominated style of Barking and the expansive style of the Vallis Way side. Skipper Jay King is looking forward to the game, he said, "Playing against teams like Barking is why we want to play at this level. Last time against Barking we made some silly errors, since then we have grown as a team and learnt a lot from it. The whole squad are ready for the challenge that lies ahead"
Previous meetings between Ealing Trailfinders & Barking
26/09/09 Barking 44 Ealing Trailfinders 29
24/01/09 Barking 27 Ealing Trailfinders 8
27/09/09 Ealing Trailfinders 55 Barking 0
22/12/07 Ealing Trailfinders 38 Barking 9
08/09/07 Barking 13 Ealing Trailfinders 13