First Team

Ward aiming to end pre-season with a flourish

With three wins from three Ealing Trailfinders are aiming to round off pre-season with a brace of victories from back to back fixtures against Henley Hawks and Old Albanian on Friday and Saturday.

Already Ealing have beaten Hartpury, Carmarthen Quins and Loughborough Students and player-head coach Ben Ward is hoping to round off Trailfinders’ preparations for their debut season in the Greene King IPA Championships in style.

“It has been nice to get into a winning habit but more importantly it has been good to put into games a lot of the work that has gone into training so far,” he said.

“With the physicality and intensity of the games increasing this year we will need all players in the squad to play a part at some stage and it has been good to get all the guys some match fitness. The performances so far have been good in parts but as always we are striving to be better and deliver for the full 80 minutes.”

OAs are no strangers to Ealing having been rivals last season in National 1, while Henley are another team on an upward curve having joined the Hertfordshire club in National 1 this season.

It means that Trailfinders are likely to be pushed hard over both matches, which are their last fixtures before they kick off the new season against London Scottish at Allianz Park on 14 September.

“Henley have just come into National 1 and have increased the size of their squad,” Ward said. “They have some very good players and all of them will be looking to ensure their place in team for their first league game so they will be pumped up.

“OAs play an open game and will test us defensively. They were the only team to beat us at home last season and we only just won at their place. They will attack from the first to the last whistle and that should make for an exciting game.”

For Ward the new season is the latest challenge since he joined the club in 2004.

The former London Irish fly-half was a key component of the side that has risen through the leagues to reach the second tier of English rugby and like all the squad he has been putting in the hours in the gym and on the training field to ready himself for life in the Championship.

“We were given seven days off at the end of last season and have been working hard ever since to prepare ourselves for the challenge,” he said.

“The step up from National 1 is huge and so the work over the last three months has been non-stop. From a personal point of view I have been at the club for nearly 10 years now and it will be a huge honour to represent the club at this level.”