Heathfield test will gauge our progress

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Eastbourne Rugby Club coach Roger Stanley believes Saturday’s clash with Heathfield & Waldron will tell him just how much progress his team has made this year.

The Blue & Golds were brushed aside by their second-placed visitors when the sides met earlier in the season, but Stanley now feels his men have got to grips with the rigours of the London South East Division three.

Last weekend’s 30-19 victory over Crawley was the club’s fifth in the league this term, leaving them well set for a New Year charge.

Stanley said, “It’s not bad at all at the moment, we played well last weekend and we are picking up a few wins.

“We’ve just got to watch out for the weather, with Christmas coming up we could lose a bit of momentum, but it’s the same for all the teams I suppose.”

With icy temperatures set to return to Sussex, the club will assess the pitch at Park Avenue on Saturday morning, ahead of the 2.15pm kick-off.

But weather permitting, Eastbourne believe they can take on all-comers on home turf. They remain unbeaten at Park Avenue and now sit seventh in the London and South East Division Three standings.

Heathfield are the league’s most resolute side, having conceded just 87 points all season, but Stanley is in confident mood.

He added, “They played us earlier in the season and beat us well. They are good all round, the fly half plays well.

“It’ll be a good measure of us, it is an interesting game.”

If Eastbourne can end 2010 – a year of more downs than ups – on a high, the coach believes 2011 could be a far-more-fruitful 12 months.

“After this Christmas is over every team we play we either have at home or have beaten them already,” said Stanley.

“But it’s early days; we’ll see how we go.”

Eastbourne are expected to keep faith with the majority of the side which started against Crawley last weekend, but Joe Walker could come in for Charlie Smith on the wing.

EASTBOURE: Barron, Oakey, Webb, Mottram, Tobin, Benniman, Redman, Groenen, Keen, Coulthard, Walker, Williams, Clark, Everett, Tennant.