THEY might not be squaring off in the league, but the two remaining unbeaten teams in the RFU Championship are set to meet for the first time this season on Saturday.
Jersey Reds and Ealing Trailfinders have raced clear of the chasing pack, both taking seven league wins from seven, with the latter leading the Islanders by way of two more bonus points.
The title rivals take to the pitch this weekend in Championship Cup action, where, again, they cannot be separated on points. Both have taken the maximum available from their first two Pool A games, against Nottingham and Hartpury University.
Harvey Biljon’s Reds know they face a battle, against strong opposition that have beaten the Islanders nine times in a row since November 2018.
‘Given the fact both teams are nine wins from nine this season, the match has been built up a little more,’ said Biljon.
‘We have to separate the fact that this is the cup and not the league. People sometimes like to use the expression ‘season defining’ in these circumstances, but I really don’t think that’s the case. If we win this weekend, it won’t define us and if we lose, it won’t define us either.
‘We have been very focused on each game as it comes, as was shown last week against Hartpury [Jersey won 55-24]. If the players had their minds thinking ahead to this fixture, I don’t think a display like that would have been possible.’
Jersey have made huge strides since they first set foot into the RFU Championship.
Now, they must return Vallis Way, the scene of their heaviest competition defeat since earning promotion to the second tier in 2012.
Ealing won 64-17 in April 2021, but if anything that statistic is proof of how far the Reds have come.
Biljon said: ‘What a defeat like that has shown us over a period of time, is how we continue to find improvement and learn.
‘I know that changes year to year with different players in the squad, but as a player-support team and as coaches, we are getting better each year and improving each year.
‘The progress may not be rapid, but it has been steady and when we take a look back, we are able to see how far we have come.’