Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV maintained their status as National 1 league leaders by narrowly beating Cinderford 11-10 at Dockham Road. On a cloudless but chilly winter’s day it was the visiting side who managed to hang on for a particularly hard-fought win. Knowing what a notoriously tough side Cinderford are to overcome and with memories of being 12-0 down in the opening quarter last season, Ealing Trailfinders were unwavering in achieving a positive start. Ealing Trailfinders began the game industriously with a zip and physicality to their play in the opening stanzas. However, an innocuous kick was poorly dealt with by Ealing Trailfinders last line of defence and Cinderford winger Lloyd Stapleton gathered and scored an unconverted try. Ealing Trailfinders settled into the game and strung a succession of attritional phases together with the forwards rumbling forward with impressive power. The Ealing Trailfinders pack contributed to the first points of the afternoon. A Cinderford scrum on the edge of their 22m line was severely disrupted by the ruthless Ealing Trailfinders pack, resulting in referee Mark Caton having no option but to award the visitors a penalty, which was duly converted by Tom Wheatcroft. The remainder of the first half saw both sides demonstrate impressive defensive organisation and a steely determination to hold out their respective opposition. Cinderford flankers Will Foden and Luke Allen displayed doggedness at the breakdown that thwarted any potential momentum the Ealing side were building. With Foden sin-binned for stamping, Ealing Trailfinder’s Anders Nilsson was prevented from scoring after a tremendous last-ditch tackle from Ben West dislodged the ball from the flanker’s grasp as the try-line beckoned.
Ealing Trailfinders began the second half with enthusiasm and purpose. The ball was recycled swiftly to Andrew Henderson who was brought down just short of the line before a succession of close quarter pick and go’s had Cinderford defending their line valiantly. Eventually No.8 Sam Shires crossed for an unconverted try on 46 minutes to push the visitors into an 8-5 lead. The visitors lead lasted just three minutes as Cinderford fashioned an immediate response. Former Gloucester centre Jack Adams showed a quick turn of speed to race round the Ealing Trailfinders midfield before putting full-back Mike Wilcox in to score in the corner. The unsuccessful conversion meant the home side took a 10-8 advantage with half an hour to go. Wheatcroft’s second penalty of the day reclaimed the visitors’ lead and began an uncompromising final quarter with neither side backing down in this physically abrasive encounter. Ealing Trailfinders created a handful of attacking chances to extend their lead but ultimately had to defend their 11-10 lead. They successfully achieved that goal and secured an important win against an unyielding Cinderford side.
This Saturday Cambridge visit Vallis Way, with a 3pm kick off, to find out more click here