Ealing Men’s 1sts earned silverware after a mixed season of highs and lows, taking the North-West Middlesex Challenge Cup back to Vallis Way for a sixth successive year with a fine performance and victory over local rivals Ruislip under the floodlights on a bumpy pitch at the Wasps ground in Acton.
Early possession yielded a penalty converted by fly-half Callum Nolan-Hutchinson, although Ruislip came close to taking the lead soon after. Ealing’s scrum disrupted their heavier opponents’ set piece to eventually relieve the pressure, and it was Ealing who were next to score through second-row Oscar Avis, with the extras added to make the score 10-0. A spirited Ruislip side came back into the game with a forwards’ try, but Ealing continued to seize the chances that came their way with Avis scoring again with their opponents down to 14 men. Ruislip continued to take the game to Ealing, with the No 8 in outstanding form, and two tries around the half-hour mark took them into a narrow lead, although flanker Alfie Hill’s try from a driven line-out restored Ealing’s advantage at the break.
Although a Ruislip penalty at the start of the second half brought to the score to parity at 22-22, the rest of the game was dominated by Ealing as their opponents tired. A converted try, the fourth by a forward in the shape of No 8 Kadeem Collins, moved Ealing into the lead, which was extended by Mike Rugeley. Nolan-Hutchinson slotted another penalty to push the lead out to 37-22 before making way for Harry Vidler, who within a minute was called upon to convert an outstanding try by centre Ollie Morris, surging through the floundering Ruislip defence from 40 metres. Ruislip continued to compete gamely and reduced the deficit to 15 points with a converted try 2 minutes from the end.
Best wishes are extended to Akeem Eubank-Anderson, who had an outstanding game at tight-head prop before sustaining a serious knee injury.
Team: Tim Hitchcock, Liam McDonagh, Akeem Eubank-Anderson, John Worthington, Oscar Avis, Devon Smith, Alfie Hill, Kadeem Collins, Dan Thomas, Callum Nolan-Hutchinson, Chris Rose, Luca Townshend, Oliver Morris, Afzaal Mir, Michael Rugeley
Replacements: Pat Nash, James Wilson, Harry Vidler, Rasaan Samms