Ealing Men’s 1sts rose a place to 9th in Zoo Shield League 2 with a bonus-point win built on razor-sharp finishing in the first half, before losing some of their cutting edge in an uneventful second period.
The opening period, on a warm and sunny day in stark contrast to the recent cold snap, saw Ealing ceding territory to the visitors, but resolute tackling held them at bay, and having absorbed considerable pressure a first foray into the Irish 22 produced a score against the run of play. A well-weighted kick by fly-half Max McMinn found touch, and when Irish failed to secure their own line-out ball scrum-half Kane Joyce probed and offloaded to No 8 Ed Shryane, who forced his way over for a try converted by McMinn. Further pressure by London Irish failed to yield a score, and with 13 minutes on the clock second-row Travis Gibson added to his try tally with a powerful run, following good work by left wing Andre Adeleke.
Irish continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession but were guilty of knock-ons at key moments, thanks in part to committed tackling. An ankle injury to centre Alex Kritikos necessitated a switch to the back line for flanker and captain Stu Miller, but Ealing maintained their intensity, and a vital turnover and run out of defence by flanker Alfie Hill, linking with prop Fillippe Vosabalavu and wing Louis Walker eventually created an opening for Adeleke to finish off with a side-step. The bonus-point fourth try came on the stroke of half-time with a deliciously weighted grubber kick by McMinn to the right wing, where Walker gathered to finish in the corner.
London Irish no doubt wondered how they managed to be facing a deficit of 26 points after dominating territory and possession, but they did notch the only score of a dour second half, while Ealing had a man in the sin bin. Ealing had several chances to add to their total towards the end of the 80 minutes but were less clinical than they had been in the early exchanges.
This Saturday, 25 February, the Men’s 1sts take on league leaders Richmond Saxons at the Athletic Ground.
Team: Kadeem Collins, Charlie Bannister, Fillippe Vosabalavu, Sean Kennett, Travis Gibson, Stuart Miller, Alfie Hill, Ed Shryane, Kane Joyce, Max McMinn, Andre Adeleke, Alex Kritikos, Steve Verma Louis Walker Alasdair Stevens. Replacements Pat Nash Harry Craig, Lewis Ellingham