It is hard to believe that we have already reached the halfway point of another frenetic Championship season.
Last week saw heartbreak for Jersey fans as the Blues pinched the game with the last kick of the match - literally! Having said that, it was the best game I have watched this season. Both teams "came to play" and the physicality and skill levels were awesome.
Unfortunately, the Reds picked up another couple of injuries at Goldington Road to further weaken an already injury-ravaged squad. The timing isn't great with the arrival of Ealing Trailfinders this week. Ealing's well publicised aim to get to the Premiership has resulted in them building a substantial squad both in terms of sheer numbers and talent. Given that investment, they are probably disappointed to have lost 2 of their first 11 games, finding themselves a distant 11 points behind undefeated Newcastle Falcons. We welcome their officials, coaches, players and supporters to Stade Santander International.
Our trip to Bedford last week also saw the launch of the brand new "RedsRadio". As our friends at the BBC Radio are no longer able to cover every game live, we are committed to bringing you full audio coverage from any game the the BBC can't cover in full. That will be away games mainly, but home games too if for whatever reason they can't cover those. The stream comes across our Twitter feed and we are using professional freelance commentators from the mainland. The feedback to the first webcast has been very positive and we will continue to work to refine and improve the delivery. Tune in for our game against Doncaster if you can't be there - more of that nearer the time.
With the 6 Nations underway, be sure to make a day of it on Saturday by staying back to watch the Scots take on a chastened England at 16:45 in the Clubhouse and Pavilion.
Let's have a great game.....come on you Reds!!
Ealing Trailfinders’ season to date has confirmed their status as a top-end team in the Greene King IPA Championship.
After arriving at level two for the second time in 2015 and finishing 11th in the next season, the men from Vallis Way have racked up one third and two second-placed finishes in the three subsequent completed seasons.
And second is where Ealing currently lie in the table after an impressive start to 2020 that has seen them amass 19 of a possible 20 points. A 10-18 success at Nottingham four weeks ago may have been hard work, but since then the Londoners have piled on 178 points in three outings.
Prior to Christmas, Ealing won five of their eight league games, with defeat in the opening match against the Pirates at the Mennaye, a draw at home to Coventry and then defeat to Newcastle at Vallis Way in December. Six straight wins in the Championship Cup secured a home quarter-final – the Reds will be the visitors to W13 on February 22nd.
The Reds and the Trailfinders have been rivals for almost a decade since first meeting in National Two South in the 2010/11 season, where Ealing finished as division champions and won automatic promotion, with the Island side following after play-off success against Loughborough. The following season the Reds took the National One title and reached the Championship, with Ealing following 12 months later in summer 2013.
Although their first Championship season ended in relegation, they were back wiser and stronger in 2015/16.
Trailfinders have been the dominant force in recent encounters against the Reds: Jersey’s 35-7 win on home turf in December 2015 remains their solitary win in 11 Championship encounters, with one Championship Cup win apiece last season. The first encounter of this season finished 52-38, with the Reds battling back in the second half of a match that featured 13 tries in all and a half-time score of 33-0.
Meet the opposition
The back-rower joined from Nottingham in the summer and has recently fought his way in to the starting line-up with a number of physical performances.
He made 45 appearances at Lady Bay before making the move to Trailfinders Sports Club, and with the likes of Jordy Reid, Kieran Murphy and Rayn Smid all competing for selection it is an area of real strength for the West Londoners.
27-year-old Buckley came through the Munster academy and was named Academy Player of the Year in 2014 before making his first team debut against Edinburgh later that year. He then signed another contract and went on to make eight appearances for the Thomond Park side before heading to Nottingham. The 6ft 2ins back-rower also represented Ireland at Under 20 level and played twelve times between 2010 and 2012.
The centre came through the Bristol academy and spent a decade with his home-town club from 2009 to 2019, where he went on to make 189 appearances.
He started the season in fine form for the Trailfinders, scoring three tries in the opening two matches of the campaign. A back injury then kept him on the sidelines for a three-month spell, but he came back last week to start in the 59-5 win against Hartpury.
Tovey, 29, plays most of his rugby in the centre but can also cover both wing and full-back, making him a versatile member of the back-line. He crossed the try-line 37 times for Bristol, showing his try-scoring ability and weighing in at over 100kg he adds plenty of size to the midfield
Jersey Reds Minis and Juniors Under 10's sent a 25 strong squad to Cardiff at the weekend. Decked out in splendid tour shirts, the tourists watched the spectacle of Wales against Italy in a thunderous Principality stadium with the roof closed. The 63,000 strong crowds did not daunt the young islanders, who were in strong voice and led cheers of "oggy oggy oggy"! Pizzas and ice cream nourished the athletes before sleeping on the surprisingly comfortable floor of the Llandaff fields Scout hut.
After bacon rolls, the squad split into two teams and took on Llandaff who, despite a weight advantage, struggled to defend home turf, losing three of the four games. A superb opening try from Ryan Allen-le-Bas, and a pitch length sprint to try from George Powell were just two highlights for Jersey's passionate play. Rucks from Tom Pallot, Will Smith, and committed tackles from Callum Coombs and Ianto Davies showcased an energetic team with building technical knowledge.