Rarely is the old cliché of a game of two halves more appropriate than in the first game played by the 1871 Under 23s in Zoo Shield Division 2 against newly promoted Maidenhead. With a seemingly impregnable lead of 29-0 with a minute to go until the break, Ealing lost focus and in the end had to hang on for a short of the spoils.
With the advantage of the breeze in the first half, Ealing started well, putting the visitors under pressure after they knocked on from the kick-off. The home pack looked to have the edge, but a succession of penalties enabled Maidenhead to relieve the pressure. However, on the quarter-hour mark a fine break by centre Paulo Kretteis led to a try by flanker Matvej Boguslavskij from recycled ball, converted by fly half Enrico Rolfo. Five minutes later a second try followed through prop Tim Hitchcock, fed by hooker Liam McDonagh, Rolfo adding the extras from close to the posts. A few minutes later wing Arian Shehu made a strong break down the left wing, was stopped but recovered to score an unconverted try. A fine try by flanker Luke Parry followed, evading last-ditch tackles by going low. Rolfo converted and added a penalty to leave Ealing handily placed at 29-0. With the last move of the first half Maidenhead put their first points on the board with a forwards’ try under the posts to leave the score at the interval 29-7.
Ealing had taken their foot off the pedal for the last 5 minutes of the first half and proceeded to play long periods of the second half in their own half, with the dominant visitors making full use of a stiffening breeze. Maidenhead ate steadily into the deficit to gain a try bonus point to match Ealing’s, and with the home side hanging on desperately and losing two men to the sin bin a fifth try followed in time added on. Fortunately for Ealing the ball was touched down wide out on the right, and with the conversion missed the game ended in a high-scoring draw, which was probably overall a fair reflection of the 80 minutes of play.
Ealing: Tim Hitchcock, Liam McDonagh, Andrew Barton, Liam Woolford, Jon McKeogh, Matvey Boguslavskij, Luke Parry, Oscar Avis, Lucas Brathwaite, Enrico Rolfo, Jack Marsh, Afzaal Mir, Paulo Kretteis, Arian Shehu, Nathan Oti, Jack Hobbs, Olawafunbi Osuntoki, Neil Taylor, Adam Gilbert, Alex Gillespie, Jesse Otway
Next Saturday, 15 September, Ealing 1871 make their long-awaited debut in the national leagues, with a Herts Middlesex 2 home fixture against local rivals Old Actonians.