Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV continued their fantastic start to the season with a thrilling 42-41 victory over London rivals Blackheath. In a game where the lead changed hand on numerous occasions, it took a last minute penalty kick from Thomas Wheatcroft to secure the hard-fought victory for the visitors.
Wheatcroft opened the scoring for the West London outfit after a stunning break from Peter Hodkinson allowed Ealing Trailfinders (ETRC)to exert pressure on Blackheath’s try-line. ETRC early lead did not last long as Blackheath hit straight back with a try from No.8 Jonathan West. Former Gloucester fly-half Rory Teague was unable to add the extras. ETRC announced themselves into the game with a superb wonder try from Phil Chesters. Having received the ball just outside his 22m line, the left winger sprinted pass his opposing winger before chipping the full-back and gathering to score under the posts. Wheatcroft’s conversion took ETRC into a 10-5 lead. ETRC will be disappointed with the ease in which Blackheath scored their second try to retake the lead. A simple backline move from first phase possession saw full-back Geoff Griffiths burst through the line to score under the posts. Teague’s successful conversion confirmed the home side’s 12-10 lead. A Wheatcroft penalty and an instinctive break from the scrum from No.8 Sam Shires made it 18-12 to the visitors. A penalty for accidental off sides from the restart and a long-range drop kick enabled Teague to level the scores at 18 apiece before Wheatcroft’s penalty on the stroke of half-time gave ETRC the all-important advantage going into the break.
Another well-struck Wheatcroft penalty in the opening minute of the second half stretched Ealing Trailfinders lead to 24-18. Blackheath came back again through Daniel Hamilton’s sharp break down the short side after his forwards provided the pulsating momentum. Teague’s conversion restored Blackheath’s lead to 25-24. The lead once again changed hands as the metronomic Whreatcroft slotted another penalty before Owen Bruynseels gathered a well-weighted Ben Ward kick to score in the corner to restore ETRC’s lead to 32-25. Two Teague penalties brought the scores to within a point before a well-worked converted try finished off by Ronald Mclean-Dents seemed to have put the visitors in a strong position with 15 minutes remaining. Teague’s 4th penalty of the afternoon reduced the deficit to 39-34 as Blackheath seemed to be gaining a new lease of life as the game was nearing its completion.
Ealing Trailfinders were forced to defend their line valiantly for large stages of the game before another first phase move saw Griffiths stroll over to score and level the game with an easy conversion to come. Teague’s impressive kicking display continued as his conversion looked to have broken Ealing Trailfinders hearts and sealed the win for Blackheath. However, the Blackheath fly-half went from hero to villain as a high tackle on McLean-Dents resulted in a yellow-card and more importantly a penalty for the league leaders. Wheatcroft, seemingly the coolest person at the ground, stepped up and struck over the winning penalty with just seconds remaining in the game to continue Ealing’s unbeaten run in National 1.
You can see Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV in action at Vallis Way this Saturday as they take on last year’s Championship side Esher in a 1st v 3rd showdown. To find out more click here