Men

REPORT: Amateurs 1sts 43 – 24 Chichester

Granted use of the main pitch for their top-of-the-table clash with Chichester, the Amateurs made full use of the wide spaces to put on a scintillating display of 15-man rugby, particularly in a first half of total dominance that yielded six unanswered tries.

On an unbeaten run since a 23-19 reverse in the away fixture in West Sussex back in November, the Ams were well prepared for the game and started with an intensity they managed to maintain throughout a first half in which they produced their best display of the season. A good kick-off by fly-half Gerardo Minich and rampaging by the forwards immediately put the visitors under pressure.

Despite conceding a penalty Ealing quickly regained possession and prop Phil Cotter powered over from close range, with just three minutes gone. Four minutes later outside-centre Alex Hazell forced a turnover on the visitors’ 22-metre line, the ball was moved left and then right and second-row Sean Kennett finished with his fifth try in three games. Full-back Steve Verma slotted a fine conversion.

With less than a quarter of the game gone the Amateurs kicked a penalty to touch and set up an unstoppable drive from the line-out, with Cotter scoring his second try. Another fine conversion meant that Ealing were already comfortably placed for a crucial victory, but there was to be no drop in intensity, with scrum-half Olly Miller bossing the game.

With just 21 minutes on the clock Chichester knocked on deep in their own half and inside centre Des Crinion picked up and scampered to the line, but the referee blew for the knock-on rather than playing advantage. However, from the scrum No 8 and captain Adam Hulmston picked up and had the strength to make the line.

Chichester finally worked their way into the Ealing 22-metre area for the first time after 25 minutes and came close to scoring, only for left wing Pascal Baptiste to intercept. The Amateurs quickly regained the ascendancy, and when a penalty was awarded 10 metres out the forwards mauled their way to the line and flanker Mike Whitney touched down, Verma adding the extras.

A half of great intensity and no little skill came to a conclusion with the sixth try, with Verma creating an overlap on the right wing and racing away to the line. Another well-struck conversion meant that, in complete contrast to the away fixture in which the lead repeatedly changed hands, Ealing were 38-0 to the good at the break.

The Amateurs were unable to pick up where they left off after the interval due to Chichester withdrawing a prop, citing inability to continue scrummaging.

The uncontested scrums that ensued seemed to deprive the home side of the fluency they had displayed up that point. The men from Sussex had no hope of winning the game but could aspire to score four tries for a bonus point, and by the end of the 80 minutes managed exactly that, their dangerous back line coming to the fore courtesy of a string of penalties and a yellow card for flanker Stuart Miller, for preventing a quick penalty.

Ealing had plenty of chances of their own, but managed just one second-half try, scored by Baptiste with a fine effort in which he stepped inside two defenders and then out again past the last man.

With four matches remaining, the Amateurs now look well placed to win Zoo Shield Division 3 South at the first attempt, but potentially tricky away fixtures at Esher and Chobham still need to be negotiated. This Saturday, 29 March, there is a top versus bottom home match against Wimbledon II.