Ealing returned to West London following a tricky visit to Kent, with 4 points but will be left feeling disappointed at missing out on the all important 4 try bonus point which sees them slip back to 3rd position in National 2 South, behind Barking and Rosslyn Park, who go head to head next weekend. All three teams are on 64 points, but Ealing have a game in hand over Rosslyn Park.
Despite the disappointment of losing top spot, Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore was happy with the overall performance, he said "It was important after not playing for a couple of weeks that we delivered the game plan well and defend with enthusiasm. We achieved both of these requirements and put Canterbury under a lot of pressure in defence and in attack we created numerous opportunities. We were happy with the majority of our performance against a team away who have been playing well recently"
Ealing’s fly half Ben Ward bossed the game throughout and contributed 14 points to the visitors, as their overall superiority proved too much for a determined Canterbury outfit.
Ben Ward began his own personal haul after 14 minutes with a simple penalty. Indeed Ealing continued to put width on the ball but were unable to breach the Canterbury defence. Ealing continued to dominate, their scrum and line outs were one of the most pleasing aspects of their play according to Mike Cudmore, "our scrum & line outs were some of the best we have produced all season, and we caused them numerous problems on their ball as well".
Despite this dominance Ealing were unable to add to Ward’s early penalty, until another long line break by centre Joe Price, some quick recycling and the ball was moved onto Ward by hooker Jon Moyce, who went over under the posts on 38 minutes, Ward adding the extras to stretch Ealing’s lead to 10-0 just before the break.
Canterbury’s fly half Phil Gibson missed another opportunity to put the Kent side on the board, and it went into the third quarter when Ealing’s full back Pete Hodgkinson showed what a class player he is. The Ealing backline had stretched their opponents all day, and his two tries showed what a classy backline Ealing possess.
On 58 minutes the ball was moved left, and some exceptional off loading by skipper Jay King and prop Steve Neville who fed the dangerous Hodgkinson, who hit the line at pace for the first of his brace of tries. Ward adding the 2 points.
Two minutes later Ealing pressing the Canterbury defence again, referee Paul Kimber issued the second yellow card of the day for slowing the ball down. Canterbury’s number 8 Roche was dispatched to the bin. Quick thinking from the resultant penalty by Ealing prop Sungo Kuwana, saw the ball whipped to the right for Pete Hodgkinson stroll over for his second try of the day on 61 minutes. Ward adding the conversion to make it 24-0 to the visitors.
For all their pressure, Ealing could not cross the line for that extra try that would have seen them remain at the top of National 2 South. Instead the final score of the day went to Canterbury wing Michael Melford who won a foot race to dot down on 79 minutes.
Reflecting on this tricky away win, man of the match, Ealing’s full back Pete Hodgkinson said "It was a solid performance in the first half going in 10-0 up. It was particularly pleasing as we had the wind in our faces and Canterbury came out, as expected, firing. The pitch was in a reasonable condition despite the weather so it allowed the backs to have a good go at theirs! Our forwards gave us a good platform by which to attack from. made some good line breaks but we were guilty of being unable to finish off the try try scoring opportunities. We had chances to touch down right up until the final whistle but In the end we went away without a bonus point. Never the less it was a good away win against a potentially tricky opposition, particularly considering that we have not played for a while".
15 – Pete Hodgkinson 14 – Owen Bruynseels 13- Markus Burcham 12 – Joe Price 11 – Phil Chesters 10 – Ben Ward 9 – Paddy Gill 1- Steve Neville 2 – Jon Moyce 3 – Dinos Alexpoulous 4 – Ryan Gregory 5 – James Winterbottom 6 – Blair Morris 7- Jay King (C) 8 – Guthrie Hall
Subs – 16 – Sungo Kuwana 17 – Rob Buchanan 18 – Luke Wallace 19 – Stuart Ware 20 – Richard Briggs
Ealing Trailfinders – Tries: Ward (38 mins), Hodgkinson 2 ( 58/61 mins) , Pens : Ward (14 mins) , Cons: Ward 3 ( 38/58/61 mins)
Canterbury – Try: Melford ( 79 mins)