REPORT: Bracknell 17 – 35 Ealing Amateurs 1sts

A Bracknell side which had previously suffered just one defeat all season other than its last-minute loss in a tough encounter at Vallis Way, presented a serious potential threat to the Amateurs’ league title credentials but in the end was comprehensively beaten by a team still unbeaten since late November.

With players returning from injury, Ealing were close to full strength, full of confidence and focused on achieving a vital win. They immediately put their opponents under pressure from the kick-off, and after 15 minutes of relentless pressure were already 14 points up thanks to two tries by second-row John Worthington, both converted by full-back Steve Verma.

The Berkshire side finally started to come into the game when the visitors were repeatedly penalised at the breakdown and notched their first points with a penalty, followed by a long-range converted try after a small and rare lapse in defence.

With only four points separating the sides, a third try in time added on was fair reward for Ealing’s dominance of the first period. Fly-half Gerardo Minich, in a man-of-the-match performance, spotted a gap that did not seem to exist and danced through to score under the posts. Verma again converted to leave the half-time score at 21-10.

The visitors maintained their dominance in the second half and secured the four-try bonus point when hooker Liam McDonagh touched down from close range, with Verma adding the extras. At 28-10 the contest was effectively over and five vital league points were in the bag, but the game ended with the two sides swapping tries.

First Bracknell scored from long range, reflecting the great improvement in playing surfaces after a week of dry weather and warm temperatures and finally Ealing restored the 18 point gap when substitute Hugh Williams came off his left wing to score under the sticks from an inside pass. Flanker Mike Whitney drop-kicked the conversion.

Coach Nick Lambert was pleased with the defensive effort and organisation, and felt that the attack had looked potent although points had been left out on the pitch.

The bonus-point win consolidates the Amateurs’ lead at the top of Zoo Shield 3 South, but with Chichester having games in hand a win at home against the men from West Sussex on 22 March is crucial. Before then, there is a break from league action this Saturday with a North West Middlesex Cup game away to Wasps Amateurs 1st XV.