In a double-header played in glorious early spring weather against the leaders of Zoo Shield League 2, who have lost just once in 20 games, Ealing Men’s 1sts competed well for 35 minutes but were eventually overwhelmed, conceding nine converted tries, all of which were converted.
The visitors began with the confidence born of success, and ominously opened their account after just three minutes with the right wing outpacing the Ealing defence to finish under the posts. Undaunted by this early setback, Ealing defended stoutly as further waves of attack were launched, and good low tackling meant that with half-time approaching only one more Stortford try had been conceded, while a period of pressure at the other end, initiated by a clever kick to touch a few metres from the try line followed by strong scrummaging yielded a penalty in front of the posts, duly dispatched by fly-half Joe Smith. A momentary loss of concentration and a missed tackle enabled the visitors to score a third try just before the break.
Any hopes Ealing cherished of clawing their way back were dispelled soon after the Norwegian referee’s whistle blew to start the second half, with the impressive Stortford scum-half bursting through to score under the posts, followed soon afterwards by another try created by a flowing backs’ move. Two further tries while Ealing were a man down pushed the score to one short of the half-century, and with prop Patrizio Bancher lost to a rib injury the game became a matter of damage limitation.
A heavy defeat was perhaps not entirely unexpected, but there was an air of disappointment after a game that showed glimpses of what the team is capable of achieving.
This Saturday, 19 March, sees the Men’s 1sts in home action again, this time against mid-table Redingensians.