Four teams head into the New Year all still vying for the title with Ealing leading the way. The west London side hold a five- point advantage over Jersey, the only side to date to have beaten them. The Channel Islanders ran out 32-18 winners on home soil on October 23, and the return game at Vallis Way on February 19th is certainly one for the diary.

However in- form Richmond could be ‘the ones to watch’. The former Premiership outfit were due to entertain Ealing last week until the freezing weather conditions put paid to their entire fixture list. Richmond look a totally different side to the one that suffered three straight losses at the start of the campaign. New coach Steve Hill has stamped his mark on the squad and they have since won 11 games on the bounce.

Southend are still on the fringes of the title race, but have a 10- point differential to make up. Victory at Ealing is vital when league action resumes on January 8th if their slim hopes are going to be kept alive. And they can take encouragement from a 31-31 draw against Mike Cudmore’s men back on September 18th.

Ealing though are deservedly on top, having scored more and conceded fewer points than any of their rivals, and in Phil Chesters they possess the deadliest finisher in the league. The winger is only four short of matching last season’s tally of 28 tries with half the season left to play.