First Team

Neville and Bruynseels welcomed to 200-club in style

Steve Neville v Bristol RugbyEaling Trailfinders’ pulsating 37-35 win over Nottingham at the weekend was a fitting way to mark a special day for two of the clubs’ long-term servants.

Prop Steve Neville and wing Owen Bruynseels both completed 200 matches for the club this season and their milestones were honoured by the club on Saturday. Neville led the team out to a rapturous applause, while the injured Bruynseels was able to share his thoughts with club announcer Mike Schaeffer at halftime.

The match was the type that both would be highly familiar with from their time at Vallis Way; highly-skilled, fast-moving and a try bonus-point apiece after eight tries were scored.

Neville entered the fray early in the second half to lend his power to a strong showing from the Ealing pack as they held off the well-drilled Nottingham eight, notably in the scrum.

“It was a great win and rounded of a good day,” Neville said. “We were always confident of getting a result here, we felt that we were always in the driving position and it was good that we hung on at the end and got the win.

“It was a pleasure (to lead the team out). It is nine, nearly 10 years since I joined and a good way to be rewarded. I knew it was a good club and they’ve always treated me well. They gave me their loyalty, so I’ve always stuck with them.

“We knew we would have to step up and nail our lineouts and compete well in the scrums and if we gave the backs some good ball we could get the win. Especially at the lineout we did well.”

Two minutes from time though Neville and his teammates had to stand by the posts and watch Nottingham fly-half Matt Jarvis hit the far post with a conversion that would have tied the scores.

Owen’s return

A few minutes later though they were able to celebrate a second-consecutive home win, which draws them to within three points of Jersey at the bottom of the Greene King IPA Championship. It means that if Ealing beat Plymouth Albion on Saturday and Jersey lose at home to London Scottish the team will be off the bottom of the table.

Owen Bruynseels promo

“We were calm to be honest,” Neville said. “We knew what we had to do. If he missed we were going to kick long and if he scored we would kick short.”

His fellow bi-centurion Bruynseels joined the club in 2003 and since making his debut in a win at home to Twickenham in London 2 he has helped the team rise through the leagues to their current heights.

As a winger he has been a regular on the scoresheet and also earned a call-up to the England Counties team.

“It has probably been the play-off games or the ones to get into the next game; Cleve to get into the National leagues and then Blaydon at home to get into the Championship, those two really stick out,” he said when asked to pick the highlight of his time at the club.

“The London Scottish games have been pretty good. We’ve beaten them down here a couple of times and they’ve always been good. The local derbies get a good crowd and I always like playing in Jersey, they’ve got a good crowd even though you get a lot of grief.”

The 28-year-old missed the match having broken his leg against Moseley back in January, but having recently signed a new contract and being well underway with his rehabilitation, he should be back to terrorising defences next season and was mightily impressed with the team’s showing on Saturday.

“I’m a not very good spectator, but the boys played fantastically and that was some of the best rugby we’ve played and I think the back line were phenomenal,” he said.

“It is great to know that they can go down to Plymouth on Saturday and win. To score 37 points against a Nottingham side that are on a pretty good run of form means we should go down there with massive amounts of confidence.”