Old Actonians 1sts 35 – 12 Ealing Men’s 1sts

The Men’s 1sts failed to match the desire of their rivals from Gunnersbury and slipped to an unexpectedly emphatic defeat in the semi-final of the Middlesex Bowl.

Despite some disruption due to a couple of late arrivals for the early kick-off, necessitating a last-minute positional reshuffle, Ealing started brightly. Flanker Ed Shryane burst through the Actonians’ defence, leading to a penalty for offside at the breakdown. Following a second penalty the ball was worked to left wing Joe Smith, who finished smartly, with Alex Gillespie nailing the conversion. The lead proved to be short-lived as Actonians’ accurate kicker reduced the lead with a penalty. Almost immediately afterwards an awkwardly bouncing grubber kick eluded the Ealing defence and the OAs’ left wing was first to the ball as it crossed the try line. One of many debatable offside decisions against the visitors led to another three points, pushing the deficit to 7-13.

Ealing had the more powerful forwards and looked dangerous in pick-and-go situations, but Actonians were in no mood to relinquish their lead and held firm. By half-time the result looked beyond doubt after a smartly taken try by the outside centre, another penalty, for coming in at the side, and an impressive try on the left wing resulting from pacey running and slick handling along the back line but aided by weak tackling.

The visitors narrowly missed with a penalty attempt on the stroke of half time, and found themselves facing the prospect of a heavy defeat when Actonians scored again immediately after the re-start. Ealing were finally stung into action and did not concede any further points in the last 38 minutes of the game. Shryane touched down after good forward play, but the try was disallowed due to an accidental obstruction. With a quarter of the game to go the same player finally did score from a driven line-out following a rare penalty award. A much improved second-half performance nearly led to further consolation tries, with scrum-half Stef McCabe stopped inches short and prop Chris Wells then grounding the ball over the try line but denied because the referee did not have a clear view. Actonians comfortably saw out the last few minutes to record a well-deserved victory.

This Saturday the Men’s 1sts face a daunting trip to Chinnor, currently lying second in Zoo Shield Division 3, and will need an improved performance if they are to compete.

Team: Wells, McDonagh, Bancher, Cotter, Kennett, Shryane, Craig, Hulmston, McCabe, L. Cleary, Smith, Crinion, Gillespie, Kerr, Verma. Replacements: Marty, Szyszko, Atik