It’s crunch time for ambitious Rosslyn Park as Shaun Justice eyes promotion to the Championship

Shaun Justice feels this year could finally be the year Rosslyn Park win National One and earn promotion to the IPA Greene King Championship.

Park have finished in the top five for each of the past three seasons and last season ended just three points behind winners Doncaster Knights.

This season they are again challenging at the top and find themselves just a point behind leaders Ealing Trailfinders, who they play in a crunch clash this Saturday.

They go into the game having lost just once all season and boasting the meanest defensive record in the league, facts that give director of rugby Justice confidence for the rest of the campaign.

“We had such a fantastic end to the season last year, and we did all we could,” he told SWLondoner.

“We had no regrets because we couldn’t have done any more with the resources we had.

“No one likes coming second, but it was a good second, and that is a good place to move on from.

“There is definitely a steely determination to go one further this year though.”

Park lost less games than Doncaster last season but were beaten to the top due to having an inferior number of bonus points, and it looks as though this year’s competition will be a similarly tight affair.

Ealing are on top because they have one more bonus point than Park, while Coventry are in third, just five points behind Park.

But Justice insists the team’s consistency in the New Year will be decisive in their promotion hopes, and not just their performance against their primary rivals this weekend.

The game at Priory Lane brings together two clinical teams that can boast a combined 21 try bonus points this campaign, while the brotherly back-row battle between Park captain Hugo Ellis and Ealing flanker Arthur Ellis is an eyebrow raising footnote.

“There are the same amount of points on offer than for any other match,” he added.

“Obviously it is a very important game, but the real battle will be about our form in the second half of the season.

“We are really looking forward to the day. The club is in a great place at the minute, and there will be a great atmosphere around the ground.

“Ealing have a squad of full-time professionals, so in some ways the pressure is off. We go in as underdogs and can try to take a scalp at home which is exciting.”

Feature image of Rosslyn Park’s Hugo Ellis, who will be facing his brother Arthur on Saturday. Courtesy of David Whittam with thanks

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