Ealing Trailfinders Academy 27 – 30 Nottingham Academy
The U20’s programme kicked off this season with a narrow home loss to Nottingham Academy, 27 -30 after a final gasp try saw Nottingham clinch the victory.
An early penalty, converted by Max McMinn gave Ealing Academy the lead after the first couple of minutes of sustained pressure. Unfortunately, for the next 25 minutes Nottingham piled on the pressure leading to a penalty, drop goal and a penalty try awarded from sustained scrum dominance.
Ealing then came back into the game for the last 10 minutes of the first half, Sparked by some dominant carries by props Akeem Eubank-Anderson and Kadeem Collins and some brilliant offloading saw Ciaran Poynter cross under the posts for what seemed like a vital try to give the Academy side a new lease of life.
Right from the restart, a brilliant break from promising centre Ollie Morris saw him dragged down metres short of the try line, good physical attacking play around the breakdown saw Matt Hodson go over for a try to give the Academy the narrow lead going into half time 15 -13 up.
Both teams pushed hard with ball in hand. Ealing spotted a blindside opportunity leaving the Nottingham defender in an all or nothing situation… he timed it right to juggle the interception to allow Nottingham back into the game with a converted try.
Ealing again countered and 17-year-old Man of the Match Henry O’Meara showed amazing work rate all game and his efforts allowed Ciaran Poynter to put flying winder James Booth away into the corner to even the scores up at 20-20.
A clever cross field kick meant Nottingham crossed again, this time unconverted.
Scrum half Josh Steadman took the tiniest of opportunities to run half the length of the field before again falling just short of the line, Lock Dante West kept the attack alive and Ollie Morris crossed under the posts to give Ealing the narrowest of leads going into the last minutes of the game.
Unfortunately for the young Ealing side, experience showed in closing out tough games as Nottingham pounced on the opportunity of some more scrum dominance and crossed again with another clever cross field kick, leaving the end result 27-30 to the visitors.
U20 Head Coach, Tom Gamage said “Today was a great opportunity for the younger players to experience what it is like playing at this level and ultimately gives us the learning opportunities to go away and improve for the next game. Nottingham were very physical and we had to front up to that, however their dominance at the set piece and lineout made life very hard for us.”