Hartpury happy to welcome back familiar faces for Ealing trip

Two former Hartpury students will be returning to help their old club-mates fight the drop, when the Red & Blacks travel to Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday.

Scrum half, Ben Vellacott, last pulled on the shirt during the promotion-winning season of 2016-17 and Hartpury will be more than happy if he is able to re-create some of his try-scoring exploits from that memorable campaign.

Since then, his name has been mentioned as an England prospect, based on his form for Gloucester, although it will be in the black and gold of Wasps that he will feature prominently next season, alongside another former Hartpury scrum-half, the newly-capped Dan Robson.

Lewis Ludlow, an AASE winner for Hartpury in his student days, last played for ‘the RFC’ in 2014-15, before making the break-through to become a hard-hitting, big carrying, line-out winning member of the Gloucester back row.

Now having to bide his time for first team action after an early season disrupted by injury, Ludlow is keen to get game-time under his belt and is straining at the leash to be involved at Ealing.

In addition, there is one new face in the team for Saturday, as fly-half Tiff Eden will make his club debut, on loan from Bristol Bears. Lloyd Evans broke a bone in his hand in the win over Richmond two weeks ago and Eden is a tailor-made replacement.

The Cheltenham-born player, whose kicking could be a big asset for Hartpury, spent two seasons with Nottingham in the Championship after joining them from Worcester Warriors. He moved to Ashton Gate for the start of the current campaign.

Charlie Powell, who played so well against Richmond, is a late withdrawal with a hamstring niggle, meaning that England Under-20 centre Tom Seabrook gets another opportunity.

Elsewhere, Rupert Harden makes a welcome return at tight-head, after recovering from a skull fracture suffered at London Scottish back in early January.  Centre, Luke Eves, another to have missed several matches through injury, is among the replacements.

Otherwise, the Hartpury squad retains many of the players who overcame Richmond. Des Merrey gets a start at loose-head, swapping his place on the bench with Dan Murphy, while Mike Wilcox returns at full-back, with Mat Protheroe needed by Bristol.

The match, on Ealing’s 3G Vallis Way pitch, will kick off at 3pm.  All support very welcome.

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