Ealing Trailfinders returned from their trip to far-west Cornwall with two points under their belts following a tough 80 minutes against Cornish Pirates, a team that reached the Championship play-offs last season.
After heavy rain the pitch underwent two pitch inspections, but after a day of sunshine and hard work by the ground staff the pitch was sticky, but overall in good condition come kick off.
With only two minutes gone Cornish fly-half Keiran Hallett opened the scoring with a penalty from in front of the posts, but Ealing didn’t hang around before they hit back.
First Ben Ward nearly put Phil Chesters into the corner with a cross-kick, but moments later tight-head prop Richie Palframan charged through the Pirates’ defence and after quick recycling the ball reached Andrew Henderson who cut inside to score.
Hallett put the hosts back in the lead with his second penalty, but again Ealing responded in positive fashion. First Ward caused problems in the Cornish forwards with a high hanging restart that resulted in a penalty that he pushed narrowly wide.
A moment later he set Ronnie McLean running and from there Henderson broke the line and put Phil Chesters free in space. Ed Siggery carried on the move close to the line, but when zscrum-half Morgan Thompson tried a pick and go, referee Luke Pearce ruled it had been knocked on and Pirates then cleared the danger.
Both teams continued to play good rugby and while Ealing tried to keep the ball moving in the backs, Pirates kept the focus on their powerful forward pack and it was through their loose-head prop Shane Cahill that they added to the score when he latched onto an overthrown lineout and dropped over the line to stretch their lead to 11-5.
Pirate’s forwards appeared set to force their way over again, but a crucial turnover from Tom Bedford allowed Henderson and McLean to race out of their 22, McLean reached the halfway and off-loaded to Chesters who held off Cornish fullback Keiran Goss to score.
Chesters and Henderson then combined in defence to stop Michael Pope had collected a Hallett cross-kick and forced the wing to knock-on. Soon after Thompson cleared the danger to go in 11-10 down at half-time.
The second half picked up where it had left off after the break, with both teams keeping the tempo high. Hassell missed a drop-kick and Ealing wing Sam Wardingley was stopped short of the line by Jake Parker after a break from Bedford.
Eventually Ward landed his first kick of the day to score the first points of the second period and it set up a good period of Ealing pressure that subdued the normally boisterous Mennaye Field crowd.
Just as the crowd started to find their voice and their team went on the attack Bedford raced out of the line to make an interception, he cleared the halfway line and when he saw Chesters outside him he picked out the wing to race home to the corner.
Cornish hit back with three minutes remaining and when Hassell broke the line, it set up the move that resulted in scrum-half Kyle Moyle dotting down in the corner and Hassell then converted from the touchline to tie the score.
The fly-half then missed a penalty that would have won the match and from the resulting restart Stuart Commins cleared the ball to touch to ensure the Ealing returned home with a welcome two points in their locker.
Andrew Henderson, Sam Wardingley, Ronnie McLean, Tom Bedford, Phil Chesters, Ben Ward, Morgan Thompson, Ryan Storer, Sam Wilkes, Richard Palframan, Steve Pape, Dan Collier, Matt Evans (captain), Ed Siggery, Sean O’Connell
Richard Townsend, Steve Neville, Conor Carey, Gavin Curry, TJ Anderson, Stuart Commins, Chris Kinloch
Kieran Goss, Mike Pope, Alex Dancer, Junior Fatialofa, Kyle Moyle, Kieran Hallett, Tom Kessell; Shane Cahill, Tom Channon, Alan Paver, Neale Patrick, Darren Barry, Chris Morgan (capt), Joe Atkinson, Aaron Carpenter
Rob Elloway, Jack Andrew, Jake Parker, Alex Cheesman, Angus Sinclair, Tom Hendrickson, Craig Holland
Referee – Luke Pearce
Attendance – 1,127