Ealing Trailfinders won this tight contest at Vallis Way, the win leapfrogging them above fellow promotion chasers Barking and Rosslyn Park, who ground out an 11-10 win at Roehampton.
The game was of added significance as it marked the 100th game for Ealing’s skipper Jay King. He will be relieved that his side took the win against a determined Dings side.
Captain, Jay King. 100 games for Ealing
Jay added " It was great to celebrate my 100th league appearance at home and all the more special to celebrate it with a win that takes us top of the league. Dings certainly threw the kitchen sink at us. They will definately be disappointed not to have taken anything out of the game. "
"Today we weren’t on top form. Defensively we were disappointing. In many aspects we did not perform as well as we should have, but to get a 5 point win has be to pleasing. We will certainly be looking to improve this week. "
Ealing were pushed all the way by Dings, and statistics say they don’t travel well – never believe an accountant !
Dings tore into Ealing from the start , but some strong Ealing defence kept Dings from their line. Dings’ wing, Jack Tovey took an early penalty to take the visitors into a 4th minute, 3-0 lead. The lead was not to last for long as Ealing full back Pete Hodgkinson showing his pace and taking his opposite man on the outside, he scored in the corner on 11 minutes. Tovey responded with another penalty for Ealing being adjusted offside on 19 minutes.
Again Ealing came back, as they began playing some impressive phase rugby, hooker Jon Moyce making some huge in roads into the visitors defence and this helped to open the Dings defence up to send wing Owen Bruynseels over for his 5th try of the season on 21 minutes. Ben Ward added the two pints to extend their lead to 12-6. Ealing began to turn the screw as Bruynseels fellow wing Richard Briggs, making his full debut for the Vallis Way team, crossed for the first of his brace on 24 minutes. Ward again added the conversion.
Dings struck back with skipper Stern Williams on 28 minutes, following a break by the Dings scrum half Steve Plummer. Tovey added the extras to bring Dings back into the game at 19-13. On 35 minutes Ward added a penalty as Dings’ defence transgressed as the home side began to go after the 4th try bonus point. Following a lineout on the Ealing 22 , Dings’ hooker was at the back of a rolling maul, and he touched down with Tovey again adding the conversion to bring them 22-20.
It was Ealing’s full back Hodgkinson who calmed the home side’s nerves as he again showed his class, again taking the opposition on the outside to cross for the second on 38 minutes for the home sides 4th try and with it a well earned bonus point . Ward adding to his own haul with the two points to take Ealing into a deserved, if somewhat closer than they would have liked 29-20 half time lead.
Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore said at half time "We had scored four tries and secured a bonus point by half time and before the game we would have accepted it and been happy, but our display was not of the standard we look for ".
The second half was a tight affair, and one that was slightly error strewn, and it was the visitors who struck first following a break and pass inside, the Dings’ wing Tovey crossed on 49 minutes, but he was unable to add to his tally and the wide conversion went wide of the mark.
Richard Briggs added to his first half try on 68 minutes, as the Vallis Way side broke out from their own 22, Briggs beating two men before cutting inside to dot down in the left corner. Ward narrowly missing the extra points. Ward put the nail in the Dings coffin with a well struck 75th minute penalty to extend the home sides lead to 37-28 and with it all 5 league points on offer.
Richard Briggs scores the final try to secure the victory
Despite the win, Mike Cudmore will be looking at the negatives as his team seek to build on their position, as they next week travel to Barnes Elms to take on Barnes in the rearranged league fixture. Last week Barnes took the scalp of Westcombe park in a close game at Goddington Dean : 19-20. Mike added , " Both the players and coaches were disappointed with the overall performance and I will be looking for a positive response in training this week and against Barnes away this weekend"
Ealing team – 15 – Pete Hodgkinson 14 – Owen Bruynseels 13 – Markus Burcham 12 – Joe Price 11 – Richard Briggs 10 – Ben Ward 9 – Paddy Gill 8 – Guthrie Hall 7 – Jay King (C) 6 – Blair Morris 5 – James Winterbottom 4 – Gethin Jenkins 3 – Dinos Alexopoulous 2 – Jon Moyce 1 – Steve Neville
Reps. 16 – Sungo Kuwana 17 – Lewis Brown 18 – Stuart Ware 19 – Luke Wallace 20 – Morgan Thompson
Next Weekend, Ealing travel to 14th placed Barnes for their rearranged league game. Kick off is 2pm www.barnesrfc.org
For photos of the match see here.