Rugby rivals preparing a play-off push

PUBLISHED: 12:45 26 April 2013

Eton Manors Chris Jones touches down against Brentwood

Eton Manors Chris Jones touches down against Brentwood


Defining weekend for two local rugby clubs

Both Eton Manor and Woodford Rugby Clubs have season defining weekends as they bid for promotion.

Manor would reach the National Leagues for the first time in their history with victory at Basingstoke in the London One play-off on Saturday, while Woodford will be hoping to return to London One North with triumph at Hemel Hempstead.

Woodford chairman David Shephard admitted he would have settled for another season of consolidation in London Two North East but the arrival of coach Andy Murphy has seen them go on a 16-game unbeaten streak up to Saturday’s final.

“We never expected promotion at the start of the season,” said Shephard.

“We had a very good season last year under previous coach Max Malkin and when Andy came in we have just continued to develop.

“This is a year earlier than I expected but the club as a whole has had a great year with the third and fourth team winning promotion from their Merit Leagues, while several of our colts teams are doing well.

“I am a pessimist though and at some point this great run of form has got to come to an end — though I hope it’s not on Saturday!”

Woodford made sure of their place in the promotion decider with the bonus-point win they required at Braintree last weekend after a strong first half performance effectively sealed the win and saw them leapfrog Ipswich to claim the runners-up spot.

“We needed the bonus point win and we had scored three tries before half time so that put us on course and the main thing was that we did the job we had to do,” added Shephard.

As for Saturday’s opponents Hemel Hempstead, Shephard added: “We did play them a number of years ago, but other than that we don’t know too much about them.

“The main thing though is we have been pretty lucky with injuries and we have a clean bill of health.”

n Ilford Rugby Club stage their annual Festival Day, now in its 25th year, on Saturday.

A Presidents XV will take on an Irish Exiles XV at 1.30pm and there will be music, a barbecue and bouncy castle.

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