There is still a buzz around Goldington Road following the final Premiership Cup pool stage game against Leicester Tigers a fortnight ago, and Mike Rayer will be hoping the momentum from that superb victory can be carried in to a tough Championship opener against title favourites, Ealing Trailfinders.
As opening league games go, it doesn’t get much tougher with Ealing big favourites for the title come April, especially with the demise of last season’s champions, Jersey Reds and the side from the capital will be a big challenge on Saturday afternoon.
Ealing Trailfinders defied expectations in winning all of their games in Pool D of the Premiership Cup, including victories against Northampton Saints and Bristol, to set up a semi-final against Leicester in February.
Mike Rayer has made four changes to the starting line up that did so well against the Tigers, with captain Alex Day the most notable returnee while Jordan Venter returns to inside centre.
Joey Conway returns at loosehead prop, and may well be looking to increase his already impressive try count for the season alongside Luke Frost who slots into the second row.
The unique Ealing challenge
There’s no doubt in any Championship Rugby fans’ minds that the visitors for Saturday’s clash at Goldington Road are the favourites for the title, but speaking before the game, Director of Rugby Mike Rayer seems confident in his players’ abilities to more than match their rivals.
“We’ve got to do all we can to nullify Ealing, which is easier said than done because they are of course the favourites for the league title”, said Rayer.
“They’ve recruited well but it’s obviously a new day, in a new competition but we need to bring the right action and the right physicality in order to get the best possible result.”
A repeat of the raucous atmosphere in Goldington Road against Leicester Tigers will also go a long way into giving the Blues the best possible start to the league season, but standing in their way are a side well versed in getting wins on the board.
Tickets can still be bought here for the clash on Saturday afternoon which kicks off at Goldington Road at 3pm.
Bedford Blues Starting XV:
15. Matt Worley, 14. Seán French, 13. Michael Le Bourgeois, 12. Jordan Venter, 11. Dean Adamson, 10. Will Maisey, 9. Alex Day (C); 1. Joey Conway, 2. James Fish, 3. Oisin Heffernan, 4. Robin Williams, 5. Alex Woolford, 6. Luke Frost, 7. Kieran Curran, 8. Cameron King
Bedford Blues Replacements:
16. Jacob Fields, 17. Jamie Jack, 18. Bryan O’Connor, 19. Jordan Onojaife, 20. Jac Arthur, 21. James Lennon, 22. Louis Grimoldby, 23. Ethan Grayson