Ealing Trailfinders ended a tough month of fixtures on Saturday with an away win at 5th placed Old Albanians, thanks in part to full back Neil Hallett’s remarkable display at Woolhams. Hallett scored 18 points, despitere receiving a 15th minute yellow card, as he helped Ealing negotiate a tricky away fixture against an Old Albanians side who in recent weeks had ran both Jersey and Richmond close in their respoctive games.
Ealing’s Mike Cudmore was pleased with the away win, his first at Woolhams in his time at Ealing, he said to the Rugby Paper following the game, " The yellow card hurt us, after that we were always in control and should have converted more opportunities". A true reflection on a game that with exception of the first 20 minutes Ealing controlled, and showed an intensity in their play pleased the coaches.
OA’s started the game brightly, looking to play with width and pace on a dry surface that Ealing have not seen for some weeks. Home full back Richard Gregg opened the scoring for the home side with 3rd minute penalty. With OA’s stretching the Ealing defence, Ealing’s Hallett was forced to make a decision to stop a sure try, and was sent to the sin bin. OA’s Gregg knocked over the resultant penalty to take OA out to 6-0.
Playing with the extra man, OA’s began to move Ealing around the pitch, and on 19 minutes centre Johannes Lombaard made the most finding a gap to cross the Ealing line. Gregg converted and OA’s were 13-0 ahead.
With the numbers now equal Ealing began to stamp their own authority on proceedings, as through a superb kicking game by Ben Ward, they took control of territory. On 29 minutes, Ward’s chip over the Albanians defence found wing Phil Chesters who strolled over for his 42nd league try of an amazing season. Hallett was wide of the mark with the conversion, but Ealing were playing with added conviction after the sluggish first 20 minutes and went into half time 13-5 behind"
Ealing started the second half with an added momentum, and on 44 minutes, from a Ealing scrum on the Old Albanians 22m line, fly half Ben Ward opened the home defence up and slipped through for a try under the posts which was converted by Neil Hallett. The home side began to make errors as Ealing upped the pace of the game, and they were unable to impose themselves on an increasingly dominant Ealing side. Gregg increased the homes sides advantage on 56 minutes, taking the lead to 16-12.
From the restart OA’s were penalised for not rolling away and Neil Hallett stepped up with the first of two huge penalties on 58 minutes, he followed this up 7 minutes later as Ealing pulled into a 16-18 lead. Gregg’s fourth penalty of the day took the lead back for the home side briefly.
After the penalty, Mike Cudmore made some changes bringing fresh legs on. Karl Gibson replacing Blair Morris, and Sonny Kuwana came on for Lewis Brown.
Ealing’s aggressive defence was leading to more errors from the home side, and the intensity they played with in the final quarter saw Ealing begin to pull away. Neil Hallett was the recipient of some slick play when following a turnover, Lee Starling moved the ball to Pete Hodgkinson who finding a gap managed to find Hallett who crossed over the OA’s line for a converted try. Hallett extended Ealing’s lead on 79 minutes with a penalty and took away OA’s loosing bonus point.
Neil Hallett said after the game "Having left the boys in the lurch a little it was pleasing to score a few points to help the team secure the vital win.
Hopefully we can use the momentum gained from OA’s & get back to the high paced rugby that we love to play. The boys should be proud of our achievements in recent weeks, especially defensively. The last two weeks have been very tough, physical games & the effort & commitment has been of a very high standard."