SOUTHEND Saxons face “their biggest game in years” against title rivals Eton Manor at Warners Bridge this weekend.

Table-topping Southend go into the game six points clear of their closest challengers.

And director of rugby Josh Ward admits Saturday’s clash is the biggest match he has had during his seven years at the club.

“It’s the biggest game and we can’t hide that,” said Ward.

“Macca (Andrew McClintock) said it’s the biggest month for the club in eight or nine years.

“We know exactly what’s coming on Saturday but we’re excited by that.

“There will be a big crowd here and we’re looking forward to it but after Saturday it’s Harlow away and that’s equally as big.”

Southend head into the Regional Two Anglia encounter having triumphed in their last 16 matches.

And Ward is delighted with how the season has gone so far.

“We are where we want to be,” said Ward.

“It’s been a good season so far and we’ve played some really good rugby.

“We’ve found ways to win in weeks when we haven’t quite been at the races.

“In previous seasons we’ve had a few of those and come up short.

“The resolve and the experience have grown over recent years and that’s been a telling factor.”

But Ward knows nothing has been achieved yet and that his side remain under pressure to perform.

“Being part of this club you’re under pressure from the day you walk though the door,” said Ward.

“I’m fully ware of what’s expected here and we expect it too.

“But as a group and staff these are the games you want to be a part of.

“Saturday is important for both clubs.

“It’s not going to dictate the season but it will influence it and we’re looking forward to it.”

Southend triumphed 13-12 when the sides met earlier on in the season, thanks to a last gasp try from Tom Ramsey.

And Ward felt it was a well-deserved win.

“They will have their opinion on the game and we have ours,” said Ward.

“We felt we dominated it but lacked a clinical edge and did not take our chances as well as we would’ve hoped.

“Ultimately their points came off us with four penalties and they didn’t really enter our 22.

“But for the players to finish the game the way they did and the accuracy they showed in the 79th minute when bodies are tired was so pleasing. “ Flanker Stuart Whatling echoed those sentiments and cannot wait for Saturday’s showdown.

“There’s no hiding it’s a massive game for both clubs,” said Whatling.

“It was close last time but we felt like we dominated a lot of the game and left a few points out there.

“It will be a different game this time and both sides will have improved since then.”

However, Whatling also stressed there were plenty of matches still to be played after this weekend’s clash.

“It probably is the biggest game since I’ve been here but it’s not all about Saturday,” said Whatling.

“We have five games left after this one so there’s no point winning this if we don’t win the ones coming after that.

“There’s still a lot of rugby to be played.”

Elsewhere this weekend, second from bottom Rochford Hundred head to second placed Sudbury in Regional One South East while bottom of the table Westcliff are at 10th placed Tring who sit just above the drop zone.

In Counties Two Essex (South) third placed Billericay host table-topping Basildon while fifth placed Canvey Island are at sixth placed Millwall.